John and I both had a difficult week following the first days of principal photography on Zombie Casserole. We were tired and sore – one of the side effects of being in our 40’s and scampering around moving equipment and contorting our bodies to unnatural positions to frame scenes up. The first couple of days of the week were pretty much write offs as we both caught up on much-needed sleep. Of course, maybe nearly killing a bottle of rum between Saturday evening and Sunday morning may not have been our wisest move, but such is life.
On Monday evening, we still had to get our zombie extras nailed down because we would be filming all scenes involving our zombie activist horde the following weekend. We sent out emails to all friends and acquaintances who had expressed interest in being zombie extras on our project and with the exceptions of a couple, everyone was game. It’s a good thing zombies are a hot these days!
This was the weekend we were going to be eating one of the characters, which would require blood and guts. I started listing out the items we would need: more meat jello, probably a gallon or two of edible blood, and probably some intestines. I just *happened* to have some intestines lying around from a prior shoot, but went out and picked up more pantyhose and paper towels to make sure I had backups. It is always entertaining to see the looks on people’s faces when I’m loitering in the women’s hosiery section deciding on the best nude hose.
As the week came to a close, we still had a couple of scenes we hadn’t put together shot sheets for and we had decided that we wanted to film a scene with zombie protesters parading around in a park. Only problem was the scene hadn’t been written yet. Doh! The additional missing scenes were to be filmed on Sunday, so Friday night I sat down and, to put it politely, pulled Scene 22 – the zombie protest – out of my ass and then printed it up as a reference for the following day.
Saturday arrived and our makeup artists, actors and zombie extras started trickling in. One of the most critical needs on both of these days of shooting was makeup. We couldn’t shoot any scenes involving the horde until everyone was made up. We shot a phone conversation scene in one room while the makeup artists were going to town on the rest of the zombies. While others were being made up, we gave the zombies poster board, paint, markers, signposts, some hastily scrawled ideas and asked them to make protest signs.
We finished shooting Saturday’s horde scenes and were happy with the results. One of the coolest moments was when our small horde shambled forwards en masse at the end of a stirring speech by one of their leaders. This was totally not in the script, but just happened. We loved it so much, we asked them to continue doing it when we filmed the scene from other angles. We’re sure it will make it into the final product.
John and I behaved ourselves on Saturday night and woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed to a sunny day that promised to get into the mid-60’s. It was perfect weather for shooting outdoor zombie mayhem.
With the weather so nice, we setup the makeup stations outside. Once again, while the makeup artists started working on zombies, we filmed other scenes we hadn’t gotten around to the prior weekend.
The makeup artists started at around 9 AM and finished up by 2 PM. We finished the scenes we were filming and then got everyone organized. We had to get everything done outdoors before we lost daylight. We threw out the shot sheet and slating and just barreled ahead full-speed.
We finally got the big scene where the zombie activists confront one of the characters, he kills himself and the horde eats him. We had warned the actor playing the character to bring a complete change of clothes, including underwear, as everything would be soaked. And not pleasantly. Edible fake blood is mostly corn starch and incredibly sticky. Good thing we weren’t filming in the middle of the summer or placed our actor on an ant hill.
I had expected a couple of zombies to assist in the initial tearing apart, but pretty much everyone was game. So we pre-cut the actor’s shirt and loaded him up with meat jello, intestines and fake blood. Told everyone we had to get this in one take and let the camera roll! We filmed additional outdoor scenes and were then able to go back in.
We managed to get the final indoor scenes done by around 7:30 PM (we had told everyone we’d be done around 7). Not too bad for a couple of amateurs. We still have a couple of pick-ups to do for one of the characters, but at this point, we’ve got everything else we need to start putting together a movie!