Episode 4 of Shivers Down Your Spine, Convention Girl, is up! Give it a whirl and then read my comments after the jump.
First, some context….
Convention Girl was another story brought to us by Professor Bleak whom I give a ton of credit to because honestly, if he wasn’t shoving stories in our face we probably would have done one episode and quit from laziness! He came up with the initial script and story and then I did my own small re-write of it. From there it was a simple matter of grabbing the actors, in this case our Dead Lantern regulars in Steve Eaton and old Splattercast host and Mr. Hollywood himself, T.J. Roe (acting in the first thing for us since The Grand Horror!). We just so happened to be attending Flashback Weekend in Illinois which gave us the opportunity to work with our good friend Ali who was also doing her first thing with us since The Grand Horror. She had the thankless job of having to lay on a bed half naked for 10 hours in a hotel room kept at about 32 degrees by Steve and Deejay, but I get ahead of myself….
This was technically the second short we shot. The first being Sleep Tight. And yes, before you ask, both of these stories are supposed to be taking place at the same hotel/horror convention. We completely screwed up in trying to tie them together but that’ll be fixed for the future DVD release. Though Sleep Tight is certainly humorous, Convention Girl is the first intentionally comedic horror thing we’ve done. On the trip to Chicago, Steve and T.J. did a lot of back and forth with each other, adding comedic moments, pauses, looks, and phrases. In the original script, T.J. breaks a chair and stabs the vampiress with one of the wooden legs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually break a chair in the hotel, so Deejay made up a couple really rad looking stakes that he home made himself. The question became: “Wait, why does T.J. have a stake in the first place?” And thus, the stake gag was born. Hopefully you laughed, and if you did, mission accomplished!
The actual making of this short was a horror story in and of itself. Mostly involving Deejay who decided at about 11pm to fuck us all and just go to sleep. To say he was surly would be an understatement. He basically blew us all off and we were left to film for 8 hours on our own. Keep in mind, at this point in time, we still had no idea how to run the camera. We were basically just shooting and hoping that everything was in focus. There are a few audio snafus here and there, particularly some blown out audio during screams and yells, but hey, considering we literally had no idea if what we were shooting was gonna turn out at all, I can live with a few audio mistakes here and there. The bar scene was actually shot twice. Once with static cameras and then again when we got back to the hotel room and Deejay was like “Oh yeah, I have a slider.” By the end of the second hour of bar shooting, Deejay was off to Pissy Land and we were left to our own devices.
I want to quickly mention two girls whose names we have lost that we met at the convention. We just happened upon them in an elevator and told them we were shooting a short film and needed some FX work. Turns out, they were FX artists and they were the ones who created the neck prosthetic for T.J. and, most importantly, the stake in Ali’s chest. If either of you girls are out there reading this, e-mail me your names so we can credit you properly! Much thanks to them in any event. Convention Girl is also our first foray into the realm of SEXUALITY!!!!!! Filming a sequence of my friends ripping their clothes off against a wall, even if there is no nudity, was weird and awkward, but I think that sequence ended up looking really good. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was using it somewhat as a test run for a sequence in the horror noir I have written, but I think the scene actually exudes a bit of hotness. Mission accomplished, lol! And while we’re on this subject….
HUGE thanks go out to Ali. Poor, poor Ali. That girl was the ultimate trooper. Deejay and Steve have this psychotic need to sleep in a freezer. And Ali had to lay on a bed, half-naked, for literally 8 hours while we filmed. She never once complained. We couldn’t have done this short without her and on behalf of everyone involved we want to give a big virtual hug to her. Care Bear Ghost, after all I mentioned there were some snafus with the audio. There were actually multiple snafus with the editing as well. The first cut I did of this a couple months back, I wasn’t even watching Ali at all. I sent it to the actors to get their opinion and was horrified at the universal response of: “Ali is blinking in every shot.” I went back and rewatched my edit and found out, yeah, Ali was blinking constantly. I then went back and covered up as much as I could. I got most of them! But if you look closely in a few shots, you’ll see some blinks. You’ll see some breathing. Considering where it was, this cut is perfect relatively speaking, lol. There was also a horrible continuity error at the end of the short. You might be able to catch just the briefest glimpse if you go back and look. It’s the scene where Steve has his hand on T.J.’s back before he leaves the room. The camera pans past Steve and in the original cut, the stake is just sitting straight up in a styrofoam cup filled with blood (look close, though, and you’ll see a copy of Outpost Doom on DVD!). None of us even noticed it until a short while ago so I had to cut around that at the last minute as well. My other pet peeve with this short is that we just didn’t have a good vampire hiss. The hiss you hear is actually me, from this afternoon, hissing into my microphone. That’ll be beefed up and fixed for the DVD release. REMASTERED!
Overall, considering everything we went through to get this short shot, I am very happy with it. I think the humor comes off pretty well and T.J. and Steve were just great the entire evening. Even at 6am, when the sun was up and we had to cover the goddamn windows (Did you notice that at the end?) in order to keep Ali from bursting into flames (vampire, after all) they were still going strong. We were all exhausted and tired as hell, but everyone stuck it out all the way to the end (except Deejay. Quitter. ) and I hope T.J. , Steve, and Ali see this short and consider it all worth it. I certainly do. It was a fun weekend and a fun night. There are more stories to tell about the making of this short, but that’s for another day.
With that, Shivers might be going on a bit of a hiatus. We are unable to shoot our next short until May. Hopefully we can scrounge something simple for next month. We’ll see. We’ll let you know when the next episode is up. Thanks again for watching, everybody!