Friday, July 9, 2010

The Night Shift: Undead laundry & police intervention

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.

Undead Laundry & Police Intervention

I have seen the world post-zombie apocalypse, and it's going to require a lot of detergent. I just went through my fourth bottle of stain stick, and need to buy a fifth and probably sixth, tonight. I'm also about halfway through a bag of something called Power Booster that sounds like a whole lot more fun than it really is.

We finished up filming with the undead extras on Wednesday, and as soon as Thomas yelled, "Cut!" I was attacked and completely surrounded by about 20 half-dressed zombies, all eager to get home at a reasonable hour, and all trying to throw their costumes and prosthetics on top of me. I actually had to yell, "I have two hands and they're both full! Follow me to my car!" and lead the pack of flesh-eaters back to my little Nissan so I could at least have a light to see by and a couple of garbage bags for the laundry.

When I opened the bags the next day ... oh, the horror. I honestly think this was the scariest part of working with zombies. The clothes were hot from being in the car, wet with sweat, and there was actual condensation on the insides of the bags. I really can't begin to describe it. Just, if you ever find yourself working with costumes in a tropical climate, never, never, never leave anything worn in a plastic bag in your trunk. You won't like what you find.

I sorted out the sweaty piles of reds, darks, lights and hand-washables, and got to work trying to get out the make-up stains. Now you may ask, "Why bother? Can't you just toss them in the trash or donate them somewhere?" I know that was my inclination when I opened the first bag.

Actually, my first thought was more along the lines of lighter fluid and a match, but I digress.

See, not all of the costumes are ours. Two costumes were borrowed, and the rest could be donated (for a lovely tax credit), but nowhere around here will take clothing that's in that bad shape. Plus, a few costumes were fairly elaborate, and are marked to be resold on ebay. With all that in mind, I set to work with the stain stick. 

It's been five days, but I've made it through the lights and darks, and can happily report that about 99% of the make-up has come out. Of course, we still have costumes yet to be returned.  To paraphrase Sheriff Brody, we're going to need a bigger washer.

On a completely unrelated note, it seems I'm married to a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Well, according to one person who called the cops on us, anyway. It seems Thomas and our DP, Soren, were carrying props from Thomas' car to our wooded location on the local college's ROTC trail. One of the props was a plastic axe, and Thomas had it over his shoulder. The two were the first on set, so they took their time and, more or less, mosied around the trail. Someone drove past, saw the axe, and called the campus police to report a crazed maniac with a chainsaw.

Obviously, the caller needed an educational trip to the hardware store.

Campus police knew we were filming and figured it was us (we've had a contract with the school for ages), but came out anyway and had a good chuckle. Couldn't have been nicer.

Then Saturday night, at the smaller of our cemetery locations, someone called the cops on us - again. We're not entirely sure what the complaint was, but as soon as the city police arrived and saw the lights, camera and werewolf, they fell out laughing. They checked to make sure we had permission to be there (we did, of course) and told us to have fun making the movie. One even pulled out his phone to videotape some of the action. Again, they couldn't have been nicer. Of course, our lead was a wreck for a little while. He had a very realistic-looking revolver strapped to his leg the whole time. Whoops.

Next Week:  I honestly have no idea, but hopefully something that doesn't involve Power Booster or bail money.  One can hope. Until then, you can follow Fighting Owl Films on Facebook (and check out the new, improved logo shown here) or by going to the official movie site, You can keep up with the movie's progress on Twitter at @NightShiftMovie.