The Zombie Casserole Chronicles – Part One

Several months ago, after going to several conventions and film festivals, John and I met a number of different filmmakers who were pulling off productions for staggeringly small sums of money.  Over bourbon we asked ourselves “Why couldn’t we do that?”  We both recognized that making a full length feature film on evenings and weekends would be far too much to bite off so we decided to try making a 20 minute short.

With that decided somewhere around August, we picked the first two weekends in November as the filming dates.  We put out calls on Twitter and Facebook, spoke with people at more conferences and created a group on Facebook we stayed in touch with.  Through these channels, we ended up with 3 highly enthusiastic makeup artists.

As we got to September, we finally realized that if we wanted to do this, we needed to actually write a script.  Details, details.  A friend expressed interest in helping us, and one weekend and several beers later we had cranked out a script best described as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner but with zombies.

We called the script Zombie Casserole as a working title and sent it out to friends and family and received some rather honest but brutal feedback.  We then sat down and rewrote about 50% of it.  Sending this out, we got much better feedback.  We did a read through and discovered it took us about 20-25 minutes to read it all the way through.

We felt pretty good about this version of the script and were ready to go.  To celebrate we bought a new video camera and fancy lighting.

One problem – it was very obvious to us that in order to make this work – we’d probably need real actors.  And we couldn’t pay them.  Oh joy.

Luckily, John had made a contact in the film department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  He suggested that we arrange a casting call there.  John and I figured why not?  So without having a location or date, we made some announcements and got some interested parties.  Once we had a location and time (Tuesday October 23’rd), we gave people timeslots on the promise that they’d show up.

We showed up with our shiny new video camera and a green screen, and got everything up in about 20 minutes when, at 10 AM, we had our first audition.  Quite frankly, we were a little surprised that people showed up – but they did!  Later in the afternoon, our friend Baxter (the red-shirt zombie from Blobageddon) joined us.  

After reviewing footage and contacting our choices, by the end of the week, we had a cast for the film.  In the interest of full disclosure, we did let our cast members know exactly what our experience levels were and what we’d done in the past, giving them an opportunity to back out.  Still, everyone still seemed game.  To say we were tickled would be an understatement.

Our first rejection

Dressed to Ill

Earlier this week when Hurricane Sandy tore through Philly, we got a scare when we lost power for a day and a half, resulting in sleepless nights and acid reflux.  But now things seem to be stabilizing, and this weekend we begin principal photography.

Now, we’re just going with it.  It could totally blow up in our faces, but it won’t be for lack of trying on our part.

I think I summed it up best when in describing our project to someone else, I said “We’re so far out of comfort zones it’s become comical.”

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