Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Night Shift: Zombie Camp

The Night Shift is the on-set diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in pre-production in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

Zombie Camp

It must be really boring to be a zombie.  Seriously, think about it. You spend all day stuck in your grave with no television, no cell service - not even Facebook, for crying out loud. Then, if you get out, what is there to do? Maybe wander around a mall and terrify a few humans, if you're lucky? That's no way to spend an afterlife.

At Pinewood Oaks, the cemetery at the heart of The Night Shift, we treat our "residents" like the people they used to be. The cemetery is run almost like a retirement community, with facility-provided arts and crafts, audio/visual equipment, and board games (such as Death playing chess with a baseball zombie, shown here). There are also planned group activities that residents may enjoy. For example, Tuesday is Community Movie Night. 

Boy, was that a trip to shoot. I had to pick up some ice for the cooler on my way to the cemetery, so I was a little past cast/crew call time arriving. When I drove up, there were three or four zombies on the front lawn, and a couple of ghosts finishing up their makeup. I'm used to this by now, but this was our secondary filming site, so we haven't been there much. It's also in the middle of a rather posh neighborhood. I can't begin to imagine what all the orthodontists and
soccer moms thought of us! I will say that they were all very nice and didn't complain about the traffic or noise or anything else, and for that, we thank them whole-heartedly. Also, if any of you are reading this, your homes are gorgeous!

All in all, we had 16 creatures for this scene. That had me pretty much completely terrified. We held a make up workshop a couple of months ago, but I really wasn't sure how much of that had stuck with the actors. Almost all of our lined up make-up artists quit before we started filming, and while I was able to beg a couple of people I knew into helping me, and we still had our principal artist, that's a lot of make up for a very small number of people to handle.

We were very lucky that most of the zombies remembered how to do the make up, and we only had to fully make up a couple of people. After that, it was just touch-ups and detailing. Honestly, I was thrilled with how everyone turned out.

Shooting went well. I had a few small fires to put out, though. We lost our Victorian Ghost Gentleman over the afternoon. Our make-up designer, Jessica, has a wonderful husband who volunteered to take that role, and he is my hero. It's also really cute, since Jessica is playing our Victorian Ghost Lady (shown here). They're a little creepy together. Our Prom Queen didn't show up, either, which was bothersome, because we had to rework some blocking. She's been recast, so we will have a Prom Queen zombie in subsequent scenes, which makes me happy because she has one of my favorite costumes in the movie. I'm just glad we had not shot anything with either of these actors. If we had, we would not have been able to recast and fix the problem as easily as we did.

Herbie, the skeleton, is a diva and decided he no longer wished to turn his head. We've fixed it, but it took a lot of time, and it gave Thomas a chance to improve his cussing abilities. He's getting really good at it. I'm so proud.

This was our latest night, yet. We finished up around 1:15 in the morning, but we got everything, and I think it all looks good. I'm posting some pictures to give you an idea.

Oh, and if you or a loved one are considering after-end-of-life care, might I suggest arranging a tour of Pinewood Oaks? We're all just dying to meet you.

Next Week: More on the joys of filming! Until then, you can follow Fighting Owl Films on Facebook or by going to the official movie site, You can keep up with the movie's progress on Twitter at @NightShiftMovie.