*Artwork by Justin Gammon – pretty much sums up how I’m feeling at the mo’.
*Aaron Boe and Lex Althoff. Photo by Chad Castigliano.
Dead Votes Society has officially passed the 3/4 mark in principal photography. It was a full weekend, starting off with a news desk location on Saturday, and ending with the goriest shoot of the movie on Sunday.
Joanne Robertson and Parker Anderson did an incredible job as our morning news show hosts. More than one crew member on the shoot turned to me and said, “Oh my god, that was perfect casting!” And they were right. This pair of local actors had great timing and chemistry together and were fully believable as their characters. Plus? Super fun and easy to work with. This was the one location that didn’t require SFX makeup, and the shoot zipped along smoothly. We actually got out early!
Sunday was a different story. We were all tired from the previous day’s shoot, it turned out that the location’s electrical system wasn’t going to cut it (a huge “THANK YOU!” to Forrest‘s dad for letting us borrow a couple of generators), and it took FOREVER to get our zombie actors ready. But, as you can see, they turned Aaron and Lex into great looking zombies and we finally started shooting around 1:30 p.m.
Folks were getting impatient as the set up time dragged on for the “martini shot,” or the last shot of the day. And yet, Carie Hughes, busy freezing on the concrete floor while Production Designer Penelope Davis and her crew prepped the scene with a gallon of stage blood and faux innards and gore, managed to stay professional and patient. After lots of “Wait, you can see fill-in-the-blank,” or “Move your head more that way,” and “More blood over Carie’s shoulder,” it was time to settle and take the damn shot.
And you know what? That final shot was AWESOME! Jaws dropped as the action unfolded. I don’t think anyone (except me, ’cause I know how inventive and detail oriented she is) imagined that Penelope would be able to pull off gore as well as she did SFX makeup. But it looked amazing and it looks even better on screen than it did “in real life.”
When Andrew called out, “It’s a wrap!” we all cheered and started hustling our poor, shivering poll worker actress off that concrete floor (Carie Hughes was as soaked in stage blood and gore as Sissy Spacek in “Carrie”), while the crew broke down the lights and sound gear in record time.
From start to finish, a great movie-making weekend!
*Andrew Johnson-Schmit, Parker Anderson and Joanne Robertson. Photo by Chad Castigliano.
Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: local ranch matriarch Maisie McAllister.
All right, enough’s enough. I been reading all the back and forth in this here paper for weeks now and I have yet to see anybody express a sentiment containing a lick of sense. Lettin’ zombies vote? What in the name of Juniper Creek are people thinkin’? Zombies smell just as bad as hippies and they’re almost as stupid. And there ain’t nobody fool enough to suggest we let hippies vote. (Not since we put down that Amendment in ’69.)
Heck, this used to be a halfway decent town to live in before all the walkin’ dead took over. Now first thing I gotta do every morning is grab my shotgun and blast me some zombie brains out. At least two or three a day. Like I ain’t got enough to do around here without that. Otherwise the smelly buggers’ll infest my property, spookin’ the livestock and gettin’ all bitey with the hired help. Plus you would not believe how many of them pus-brained corpses I’ve had to fish outta my cistern. Makes my water taste mighty pungent even iffen I boil it.
(I don’t want to belabor the comparison, but once again these are many of the same problems I used to have with them dang hippies.)
And now, insult to injury, I hear they’re fixin’ to put out a movie about this whole zombie voting debate. “Dead Votes Society,” they call it. Well, it just goes to prove that them Hollywood folks are plumb outta good ideas for movies. I don’t get down to the Antelope Theater much anymore since Clark Gable passed, but some nights when I’m soakin’ my feet I do like to watch the satellite, even if most of the stuff on there is about as pointless as a double-decker outhouse. Just the other night I saw some fool thing about a bunch of nine-foot-tall blue hippies that wouldn’t come down outta the trees no matter how much the brave soldier boys shot at ‘em. I don’t know who in their right mind would pay hard-earned money to see such trash, but I’m sure if people like that, they’ll just love this “Dead Votes” thing. Probably make a billion bucks. There just ain’t no accountin’ fer taste no more.
Anyway, that’s my two cents.
MAISIE McALLISTER is a fourth-generation Crest Topper, a direct descendant of pioneer stock. She owns McAllister Ranch, one of the largest cattle operations in Northern Arizona. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.
We wrapped up our first shooting day around 6 p.m. on Sunday. And yes, it was AWESOME! And a lot of work. But mostly it was so much fun that the work didn’t seem like work.
Penelope Davis, our production designer, did an incredible job with the make up for both the zombies and the “normies.” Even with a knee injury, Tiffany Antone had a great attitude and played a terrific “straight woman” to Cason Murphy’s zombie. And yeah, it was great to have former Coyote Radio Theater member Sean Jerald play the extremely nervous (and sweaty!!!) zombie interpretor.
Other than a great cast and a kick ass zombie “look,” what made the shoot successful was a crew that figured out how to work well together super fast. Truly, a great group of peeps for the crew. And I know we’ll only get even better as we move through the next three shooting dates. I DO believe in zombies!
Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: Arizona State Senate candidate Blaine Walpole.
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Glllughd nvfjnvn Obamacare nvjfnvurnuh bhbffdb death panel drrgggggl djsfsjh privatization ggjadjcnbvb grrrq f;ssfc bjss lower taxes! Fjhngdjvh nfdefgrrr socialism bldagfv djnvjsnv BRAINS g;gafgagd ngndjon gndaujg job creators cnnhvnvsuihv gasdfksadh bvyhdgbv 47% brrdgadsg axbsauxb asdhb smaller government.
BlrrwEF dfjgndi dnfuhs The Constitution nfgjdzncxnv Founding Father’s Christian principles dfnudf nsudhyfih gnsoi freedom. The troops cmvjxsodvihj grdasdr God bless America! Gdnfoi gardasd dfgijo BRAINS.
BLAINE WALPOLE is running for the State Senate seat in Arizona’s 31st District, and has already beat the incumbent Sen. Dudley Serling in a hotly contested primary race. Before his untimely demise, Blaine was the proud owner of a Chik-Fil-A franchise and treasurer of the Crest Top area Tea Party chapter. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.
Behold, an Imported English Zombie Contact Lens.
Angie, as producer of this fine little zombie movie, found herself researching zombie contact lenses after talking with our SFX Make-Up Consultant, Ridgḝ Gḁllagḧḝr. (That’s Ridgḝ, testing make-up designs with zombie spokesmodel Cole Lahti.)
Ridgḝ, quite rightly, holds that its not enough to just slap on some white powder, paint a little fake blood and black around the eyes and call it an apocalypse. Don’t believe it? Go to Netflix and use the search term zombie. Lots of low budget films, yes? Watch a few. Aaaaand they spent the budget’s other $1.50 on the catering. In terms of production value, not a lot of it.
And this where I totally dig Ridgḝ’s approach. Besides his very detailed make-up, he talked with Angie about using contact lenses to take the effect farther, plus added effects like objects impaled in our walking dead or burns.
Think of it this way. If our zombies are still wearing the clothes they died in, everything that’s happened to them since is evidenced on these garments and this flesh. When Lex Althoff’s zombie appears on the screen, if she’s got a pencil sticking out of her head like a poorly aimed harpoon, you can just imagine some poor zombie killer that didn’t live to tell the tale. If Cole Lahti’s zombie shuffles around the Square will one arm charred you can just imagine the fiery fate that could not stop her shamble.
All of which makes for an interesting movie. And production values. And Angie scouring the EU for just the right look in contact lenses. Its the work of Ridgḝ and Production Designer Penelope Davis (costumes, make-up, props and production values) to make this all come to life aaaaand on a budget that matches what big Hollywood movies spend on coffee stirrers at the craft table (unless its a Bruckheimer film. Have you seen his coffee stirrers?!)
Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: local activist and businesswoman Callista Brubaker.
My good friend Hester Morton made some good points in her September 14 letter, about the many benefits legalized zombie voting will bring to Crest Top’s local economy. However, I do have grave concerns about this “satirical” film she mentioned, “The Dead Votes Society.” If recent events in the Middle East have taught us anything, it’s that certain segments of the population just can’t take a joke. I’m sure that as former human beings, zombies have many wonderful qualities, but a sense of humor about themselves is not one of them.
Who can forget the wave of zombie violence that gripped London in the weeks following the premiere of Shaun of the Dead? Or the terrible recriminations Woody Harrelson suffered because of his appearance in Zombieland? Some may say that these incidents were not directly caused by these films, but were rather cases of radical zombie organizations exploiting undead anger (or just, you know, hunger) in order to further their own agendas. But I say, why take the chance?
I’m all for freedom of speech, of course. My ex-husband was a lawyer for the ACLU and he would not shut up about that subject. But the First Amendment doesn’t give us the right to shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. Or to shout “brains!” in a shopping mall crowded with zombies. The makers of “The Dead Votes Society” would do well to remember this. In fact, I would suggest that the production take on a zombie consultant to review the script and to observe every scene as it is shot. If this zombie gets all offended and bitey by what he or she sees, then that portion of the film should be cut. After all, who wants to live in a society where anyone might be offended, just so smug Hollywood elitists can make a quick buck? I surely don’t.
CALLISTA BRUBAKER is the Director of THE ASSOCIATON OF LADY VOTERS. She also teaches a course in Applied Civil Disobedience at CREST TOP COLLEGE and owns the HEALING HANDS, HEALING HEART BOOKSTORE on Crest Top’s Historic Tequila Row. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.
Normally we re-post a letter to the editor related to the vital issue of Zombie Voting Rights. Due to an unfortunate SqueeZ Cheese incident in the Crest Top Chronicle news office, Christian H. Smith is no longer allowed to operate technical equipment of any kind, and this week’s letter has been irretrievably lost. We hope to resolve the situation quickly so that Crest Top community members can continue to make their voices heard across the “interwebby.”
Who knew zombies were so dang popular?! I mean, everybody knows the kids love them some sparkly, broody vampires. But zombies? Zombies are kinda gross and are pretty much the opposite of sparkly. And not so much with the broody romance, since, y’know, missing body parts and corpse stank is kind of a turn off for most folks.
But here is something about the notion of the walking dead that seems to alternately freak out and fascinate people. Remember when zombies were just slow and creepy (White Zombie) instead of those badass super fast 28 Days Later zombies? Yeah, I don’t like those fast ones. Actually, I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t want to run into either variety in a dark alley, or even a brightly lit grocery store with a fully loaded shotgun and tons of extra ammo. No sir. Not me.
I’m still trying to figure out how we ended up making a zombie flick – even one that has a hefty dose of comedy in it – when I can’t stand to sit through horror movies. They scare the hell out of me. Just ask Andrew about the time we watched “The Silence of the Lambs.” On Fast Forward. With the sound on mute. It took about 30 minutes and it was one of the longest half hours of my life.
But here we are, just a few weeks out from shooting, and I’m the one telling Penelope, “More blood! There must be serious blood spurtage! And head wounds, yeah, that’s the ticket!” So Penelope is dutifully whipping up a whole gallon of fake blood and working out some lovely, nasty SFX to try out. And we are both laughing like loons and having a great time.
Zombies, man. Part freak out, part fascination, pure fun.
One of the awesome things about making an indie movie is getting the chance to do some “inside” jokes and references. Dead Votes Society is adapted from a Coyote Radio Theater script written several years ago, but now is our chance to give some of those fab voice actors a chance for some screen time. And the really funny thing? They don’t actually have any lines. It’s one of those details that pretty much nobody but the writers and some hardcore CRT fans with great memories will recognize, but it makes me giggle. A lot.
Then there are the little things that make sense to us, but probably won’t mean anything to the average viewer when all is said and done. But you know what? If you’re gonna go to all the trouble of making a movie, you might as well throw in a few things just ’cause you wanna.
Another perk? Getting to play with fake blood! Andrew decided that he really, really needed to see if Ben Nye’s Stage Blood truly has a “zesty mint” flavor. He pronounced it “pleasant, but not too strong,” while Art Director/Production Designer Penelope Davis gave it the thumbs up for color and consistency. Our actors can rest easy. Our SFX blood is officially director tested and Production Designer approved.
Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: local businesswoman Hester Morton.
Our fair city has been the center of a lot of nation-wide media attention recently. As debate rages in the rest of the country about undead voting rights, here in Crest Top the matter has already been decided. Thanks to the foresight of our late and lamented Mayor Roscoe Sackenheimer, Crest Top is the only town in America where zombies already have the vote.
Whatever your opinion of undead voting, the publicity surrounding the issue has been a boon to local businesses. Zombies are considered to be both “hip” and “cool,” and people are coming from all over the world to visit the place Holiday Road Magazine has called “The Premier Walking Dead Destination.” The hotels, bars and restaurants on our own Historic Tequila Row® have seen a surge in zombie-related tourism. Local gun shops and survivalist supply stores report brisk business as well. I say anything, even a zombie plague, that brings in tourists and their dollars is by definition a good thing.
While tourists might come for the zombies, they will no doubt stay for the local history and color. Crest Top has a proud tradition of pioneering civil liberties that began long before the zombie controversy. Did you know that the time of its founding, Crest Top was the first and only municipality in America to recognize same-sex marriage? Of course, this ended at about the same time the first women were admitted as citizens, but just a few decades later Crest Top broke down another Civil Rights barrier when horses were allowed to vote in the 1886 city elections. In fact, the horses just might have provided the swing vote that elected Virgil Sackenhiemer (Roscoe’s grandfather,) thus establishing a political dynasty that lasted well into the twenty-first century.
And now Crest Top leads the way towards liberty once again. Our city’s brave stance on individual freedom has attracted the attention of a Hollywood-type film production company, who has come to town to shoot a Major Motion Picture entitled “The Dead Votes Society.” I don’t have to tell you what a shot in the arm a movie can give to a town’s economy. So, despite niggling concerns about public health and how the entirety of Historic Tequila Row® tends to smell nowadays, I say zombies are good for business. And what’s good for business is good for Crest Top.
HESTER MORTON owns several local businesses, including THE MANOR saloon, the HOTEL MONTEZUMA, THE STAMPEDING BUFFALO fine arts and gift store and HESTER’S CONES ice cream parlor. The Crest Top Chamber of Commerce (of which she’s President) has awarded her the “Outstanding Local Businessperson” award for twelve years running. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.