About The Film

Dead Weight is an independent film produced in central Wisconsin throughout the course of 2011, and released in March 2012. It tells the story of Charlie Russell, traveling the wilderness in the wake of an apocalyptic viral outbreak, in search of his girlfriend, Samantha. As his journey brings him closer to his destination of Wausau, WI, he must face physical exhaustion, malicious survivors, and perhaps most menacing, his own emotional burdens. With his newfound traveling companions Charlie must attempt to find attempt to break his obsessions with the past. He must learn to let it go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

LET'S MAKE SOME NOISE, SHALL WE?

Oh, foley work… If you're not sure what foley is, it is, simply put, re-creating everyday (and not so everyday) sounds to use in a film. When filming, you concentrate on getting the best possible audio for the actor's dialogue. Doing so, there's a lot of additional sounds that you don't capture, so you need to replace them. 

Our foley list consisted of over 300 separate sounds. However, one entry on the list could have been, "Group Footsteps". Could have been?! Who am I kidding, that entry appeared multiple times. Most of the time, "Group Footsteps" implied four to five of our characters walking on different terrain; grass, concrete, leaves, hardwood floors, and/or snow. So one item on the list might have actually been five separate sounds to create one overall sound. Make sense?

Now, we didn't go out and actually walk around in the snow to get the right sound. In fact, the only sounds we recorded outside were the sounds of a car. Everything else was recorded in our recording studio, aka my bedroom. Here, we recorded everything from the sound of a hand going into a backpack, cocking a gun, walking in the snow, a roaring campfire, and gore sounds (just for example, there were tons more). 

How in the hell did we record snow and a campfire in my bedroom? Well, the fun of foley is figuring out what resources you need to get the sounds that you want. We're not going to give away all of our secrets, but walking in snow was recreated by placing rice and cornmeal in a leather pouch, and squeezing it for every step. The campfire consisted of potato chips and saran wrap, and fruits and veggies were used to make some gross gore sounds. 

Adam and I, along with our good friend Scott, spent three days, twelve hours a day, capturing these sounds. Then, I had to go through and place each sound in the film, being sure it fit with the video. At the moment I have about 75% (if not more) of the foley in the film, and have probably spent well over thirty hours doing so. Seems like a lot of tedious work, doesn't it? It is, no doubt about it. However, foley makes a film. Correction: sound makes a film. Audio is equally as important as your video, if not more. You could have the best looking film in the world, but if the audio sucks, no one will sit through it. 

To help better illustrate what we did, here's a nice little clip of the pros making foley. Adam was so inspired by the guy wearing ruby high-heels, he insisted on wearing them everyday we recorded foley… even if we didn't need footsteps. Okay, that may or may not be true. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PROGRESS REPORT

We just wanted to take a moment to give everyone a brief progress report on where we're at with the film. I realized that the blog gets a lot of long, elaborate posts, while we don't necessarily explain much about where we're actually at with the film. So here we are!

This is the to-do list, this is all we have left. That is weird!


- Color Correction
As detailed in John's great blog post!)

- Foley and ADR placement
We've recorded almost all of the foley and ADR, just a couple quick spots we need to hit and then it's all captured, just needs placing!

- Score
Nicholas Elert has about 15 days as of today, to finish this beastly score. We know he'll do it, and it will be awesome. More about Nick here.

- End Credits
We recently had a hiccup with the progress on getting the credits handled, but we're back on track. Not like it's going to take a lot of time, just a lot of typing and then proofreading.

- On screen graphics
Alongside the end credits, had a recent hiccup in progress. As of today we have Eric Arsnow, who has worked on Screaming in High Heels, Sleepless Nights, and Swamphead with our color correction wizard, Derrick Carey. Eric did the opening credit sequence for Swamphead, so if you've seen that then you know he does great work. Special note: THIS IS NOT CG. There is a single scene that requires some graphics, that's what he's handling.

- Audio mix and master
There will be a huge blog post on this guy in the future, you'll all have the chance to get to know an old friend of mine, Adam Tucker. Adam runs Signaturetone Recording in the Minneapolis area, and has handled mixing and mastering for many of the releases I've done on my record label.

- B-Roll
This is basically filler video, essential to the visuals of the film, but without dialogue or anything. We had to wait until the trees were bare so this footage would match our initial filming conditions back in April, so these past two weeks have been perfect. We were even able to send our still photographer, Mary Manchester, out with a DSLR to grab some 1080p video during that snow last week. Party time! Just a couple more we need after the snow falls again.

- Pick-Up Shot
A single segment we need to grab to accent a scene we already filmed. We have the pleasure of working with Milwaukee actor Joel Kopischke on this, who was suggested to us by Dead Weight actor Reva Fox. Great lead, Reva!! We will be filming this on Friday, once again enlisting the help of Mary Manchester.

That's all! Then on to bonus features! We can't believe we're almost there.

We're both glad the to-do list doesn't look like this anymore!

OTHER TRAILER AND INTERVIEW

In my last blog, "The First Taste of the Big Screen", I mentioned the short film, Other, which screened after our trailer at Terror in the Aisles. Well, today was a big day for Other, as the official trailer was released, as did a great interview with director Danny DelPurgatorio, courtesy of Beth from Icons of Fright.

Be on the lookout for an interview of Adam and I on Icons of Fright, coming soon. Guess you don't really have to be on the lookout for it, as you know darn well we will post the links.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

IT WILL BE CRUSHING


There is one crucial aspect of a film that can make or break a viewing experience for me. Music. I’m sure you’ve been in the position where you’re taken entirely out of a scene because of some piss poor choice in music. I know it happens to me more than I care to think about. This is something we’ve been absolutely conscious of throughout the entire film, and one big reason we can’t wait to finish everything up. We know the music is going to play a huge roll in driving home the intensity and emotion that we wrote and the actors delivered. It’s going to round out the story and put that nice shine on the smooth parts, and dirt on the gritty parts.

We knew at once that Dead Weight would be a film that required a score, not unrelated licensed songs. Although there will be a couple scenes that feature songs by bands you may or may not know, the film really needs a dedicated, composed soundtrack to achieve the feel we are looking for. Throughout pre-production we reached out to a few different people I’ve met throughout my years working in music that may be able to contribute something, or score the film entirely. With one of them we were actually making some progress, but discussions sort of fell apart and it was obvious it wasn’t going to work out in the end. Right around that same period I received an email from Milwaukee musician Nick Elert.

Nick is someone I’ve come to know well after seeing his band, Northless, play a few shows and by eventually releasing one of their albums on my record label. Northless is a heavy band. Actually, heavy doesn’t even do them justice. Northless are the heaviest band I have ever seen, heard, or been sonically assaulted by. I’ve seen them play alongside some incredible bands, and they always steal the show. Nick plays guitar in Northless, and the scowl on his face while they execute the most intense misanthropic sludge metal I’ve ever heard, that scowl is something to behold. I knew Nick was a great guy and a great musician, but a great composer of soundtrack material? Well, it was worth a shot.



Little did I know that in addition to performing pummeling riffage, Nick focused on a lot of ambient & soundscape music. So, it turns out Nick is indeed a great composer… fantastic, even. But beyond the fact that he knows how to put together great sounds, he also truly grasps the themes and ideas of our film. He understands that the music needs to compliment those themes, cue the viewer and work side by side with the visuals to deliver the story. This is something neither John nor myself really understood how to explain, but Nick picked up on immediately. And that is key. Nick connects with us, sees the story the same way we do, and knows exactly how to tell that story with us. That’s what makes us endlessly happy to be working alongside him. We’ve really given Nick free reign to run with the soundtrack, because we trust him completely. There have been VERY few soundtrack demos that John and I have had to send back to Nick for changes once we all settled on the film’s musical aesthetic. He has been hitting the nail on the head scene after scene. When we can even hear a single demo for a scene and respond with an email where we tell him it’s “fucking perfect,” then we know we’ve found the guy for the job.

On top of all that music talent, Nick is also a nerd, and that’s a very important part of being involved in Dead Weight. So many of us are so dorky, especially John and I, so if you’re going to work that intimately with us, you need to be able to connect and communicate using our language, which Nick does. It’s pretty much safe to say we love him, and there’s very few people that could work with us on this level. We can’t wait for you to hear what he’s come up with. We couldn’t be happier to have Nick along for this storytelling adventure.

Nick has most recently begun work on the song for the end credits of the film. Which is something that John and I have been struggling with the idea of for months… perhaps a year? Nick sent us an email yesterday in which he tells us “it will be crushing,” and we know to have no worries, Nick will deliver.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FIRST TASTE OF THE BIG SCREEN

Without a doubt, we were on a high after "Through A Still Lens". After all, it was the first time we did anything public with the film. For the previous two years, Dead Weight only truly existed in our heads, on paper, in our (the cast and crew) experiences, and in world of the internet. Taking the film, be it just production photos and the trailer, to the public was satisfying and mind-blowing beyond belief. What would happen if we took it out of state?! Gulp…

Towards the end of September, we were contacted about showing the trailer for Dead Weight at Terror in the Aisles 9. TITA is an ongoing mini film fest held at the gorgeous Portage Theater in Chicago, which features older and modern class horror films with special guests, vendors, and so much more. Since we aren't morons (well, most of the time), we said of course! Then we were told the trailer would be showing before Shaun of the Dead, with Dance of the Dead and Demons showing later. Then the last minute addition of An American Werewolf in London with star David Naughton in person was enough to cause a nerd overload for yours truly.  

Adam, his wife, Cari, (lead actor) Joe, Scott and I pile in Adam's tiny car and trek to the Portage, where we met up with actress Michelle Courvais, producer Dan Kiggins, crew member Coye Vega and many other close friends. We set up a table with the photo cards, buttons and t-shirts for sale, and were on hand to talk to interested ears about Dead Weight. The night was going just fine, then we got the heads up, "Trailer goes on in 20 minutes". Oh, boy. This is for real, isn't it? Premiering the trailer at the photo exhibit was definitely nerve racking, but going into a theater full of people we don't know, let alone in Chicago, was a little different. However, I was also quite excited because this would be completely pure and genuine feedback. Adam, Michelle and I sat towards the back of the theater, awaiting to see the Head Trauma Productions logo fill the screen, knowing what would follow for the next two minutes and six seconds. 

Then it happened. And I felt my stomach slightly climb up into my throat, then Michelle's grip tighten on my shoulder. However, twenty seconds in, all nervousness went away. Why? Well, to be honest, I was kind of in disbelief. First of all, the footage looked GORGEOUS on the screen, no joke. Not only that, but for the first time I was viewing the trailer not as something I cut together, not shots from a film I have seen just about everyday for the last six months, but as something foreign. I can't exactly explain the way it felt. But I almost felt removed from the project, it was hard to fathom that for every shot in the trailer, Adam and I stood right next to the camera. I could ramble about how odd it felt, but let's just say this: it felt amazing! In the row in front of us, one guy tapped his buddy on the shoulder and said, "This looks really good". When it ended, there was a loud applause. Adam, Michelle and I looked at each other, and without verbally saying it, our faces said it all. "Holy shit."

Adam and I went back to the table immediately after the trailer played, and got to talk with some really great people who were interested in the film. Shortly after, Joe, Michelle and Scott joined us, but not without saying how awesome the short that followed the trailer was. They said it was called Other, and was a really solid horror/sci-fi short. To be honest, Scott and Joe were somewhat freaking out about how good it was. They didn't want to say much, as they were hesitant about spoiling anything. So, really, all I knew was that Other was super rad and I should see it. 

Some time passes and another lad, Danny, steps up to the table and starts complimenting the trailer and asking more about the film. I oblige him, and probably talk longer than I needed to (surprise, surprise). In conversation, he mentioned he had a film show tonight, as well. I ask which, he says Other. "Oh, really?" I say, and proceed to inform him how Joe and Scott were nerding out like crazy about it. Now I start asking questions about the film, and am even more amped to see it. I ask the standard question if he's worked on anything else. His response starts with "Yeah, I did directed an animated film for Warner Bros. a few years back… It was for the Watchmen film, Tales of the Black Freighter." [record scratch sound effect here] I'm sorry… What?! Let it be known, that many of us involved in Dead Weight (Adam, Joe, composer Nick Elert, myself) are huge comic book fans. And the dude who directed The Black Freighter really liked the trailer for the film?! Um… Uh… I don't even know what to say.

Throughout the rest of the night, I talked a lot with Danny, about Other, Dead Weight, and plenty of other flicks, too. However, it was abundantly clear that he was a fan of the trailer and super pumped about the film. I don't mean to undermine the feedback we got from anyone else, not by any means, but this was totally surreal. After a stop at Pick Me Up Cafe, which involved me feasting on a big burrito, we hopped back in the car and left Chicago jazzed up beyond belief. Huge thanks to Rusty for asking us to be a part of the awesome event, and everyone who watched the trailer, liked it, said hi, expressed interested, and/or picked up a shirt!

Then came Saturday, and not just any other Saturday either, but the day of the second Oshkosh Horror Film Festival. The OHFF showcases 12 hours of Wisconsin made horror films,  and celebrates all that is horror in this beautiful state I call home. We got back from Chicago around 4am, and by 10am I was at the theater, where I remained for the next 15 hours. Needless to say, it was a long, yet incredibly fun and exciting day. The energy of running the fest kept my blood flowing (and me awake), and the TITA experience definitely helped out, too. Early on in the day, a few people asked if we were going to show the Dead Weight trailer. Now, the OHFF is an event I organize, and Adam runs the projection room. In short, we are the two main people behind it. Previously, we both agreed we did not want to show the trailer at the fest. We are not bashful about promoting the film by any means, but it's a little different when you are in charge of an event. We didn't want to give off the wrong impression. But, people kept asking, and we stood our ground for a while, and then finally gave in. Completely last minute, we showed the trailer before the last block of films. At this point, there was well over 200 attendees in the crowd. I had similar pre-trailer feelings as the night before, but once again, all was fine once the trailer was over. This night proved to be just like TITA, with a truly positive response. Many people had already seen the trailer, on their computer screens, not the big screen, though. And, there were those who saw it for the first time, and seemed to like what they saw. Which, this probably goes without saying, is such a satisfying feeling. 

The weekend of Oct. 21 and 22 will go down in the books as the weekend where Dead Weight ruled the world. Well, at least two theaters. Wait, no, at least in our heads. Yeah, that's it. Seriously, though. TITA and the OHFF delivered a realistic kick in the ass for us. So much of Dead Weight has been in my office, aka bedroom, as I work on the film day in and day out. Then we have two unbelievable and overwhelming positive public outings? This isn't being cocky or full of ourselves by any means, this is being honest: We know there are quite a few people who are excited to see the film. And, I've said this before, but trust me. After these two theater experiences, we are even more excited than we were before. Can't wait to sit in the theater with you all. 

Oh, and seriously, be sure to keep up with Other (they're on the facebook, too!). Vitamin Pictures is getting ready to premiere the finished film in December, and will be traveling with it throughout 2012. Granted, I haven't seen the film yet, but after talking with Danny during TITA and many times after, I can safely and confidentially vow for him and the film. Plus, let us not forget how uber gaga Joe and Scott were about it.

Adam, Joe, Dan, John, Scott, and Michelle at Terror in the Aisles 9.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NEEDS MORE BEAUTIFUL COLOR!

Don't be deceived by the lack of activity on the blog, friends. That's all about to change. Part of the reason things have been quiet on our end is that we've been working like mad to finish up the film. Believe it or not (I know we can't), but the end is not only near, but in sight!

In fact, just last Friday (Nov. 4), we sent the film out for color correction. A few people have asked me just what that means; color correction. Well, quite frankly, it means just as it sounds. It's the process of getting all the scenes to look similar throughout the entire film. For example, our main cast of survivors wear the same clothes for the duration of their journey, and different lighting can make Dustin's grey jacket look a little more blue, or lighter, or darker. Color correction provides a consistency from scene to scene.


We are also using color correction as a strong, visual device in the film. Well, more so than usual. Some know this, some don't, so I am going to "spill the beans" now. There are two timelines in Dead Weight. We call these the present and flashback timelines. The present timeline is the post-outbreak time period, when the world has moved on. The flashbacks show the relationship of our two main characters, Charlie and Samantha, before the outbreak. Adam and I discussed early on that these two timelines needed to look completely different from each other. To achieve that, we did two things. First, we set a color palette for both. All wardrobe in the present timeline consisted of dull, earthy colors: greys, browns, darker greens and blues, etc. In the flashbacks, our characters wear brighter, livelier colors: reds, oranges, yellows, light greens, etc. As you'll see in the raw footage (the trailer contains NON-corrected shots), this worked successfully. However, there are aspects we can't fully control, and we wanted to push the feel even more so… enter color correction. The images in this entry contain a pairing of the same frame twice. The first is the original, raw colors, with the second being the graded frame from our DP, Travis, worked on to give our color correction guy a starting point. Hey, speaking of this magical color correction guy, who the hell is he?

It's my pleasure to introduce the most recent addition to the Dead Weight family, Mr. Derrick Carey. 

Derrick's another super talented cinephile from the Fox Valley, and when the thought of bringing someone on board for color correction, Derrick was the first person I thought of. Derrick's had a great year for film thus far in 2011. Just this summer, the documentary Derrick edited, Screaming In High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era, written and directed by Jason Paul Collum (another cinephile from Wisconsin), premiered at Flashback Weekend. Screaming showcases the career ups and downs of three fantastic (yet typically screaming and scantily clad) ladies; Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens. If anyone picked up the badass Slumber Party Massacre box set that came out last year, Derrick also edited the documentary on there (another one Collum wrote/directed), Sleepless Nights. Also this year, right before Derrick started working on Dead Weight, his most recent endeavor was Oshkosh's very own Swamphead (released through his Rabid Child Films), one Derrick edited and produced. We premiered this one at the Oshkosh Horror Film Festival, and the packed house went nuts over it. If you like your horror to be dirty, sleazy, vulgar, and bloody, Swamphead is up your alley. Think early Hershel Gordon Lewis mixed with 80's Troma. 

Derrick's stepping right out of the swamp and into the cold, vast world of Dead Weight, and we couldn't be any happier to have him on board. Just yesterday I saw the corrected opening scene, and just when I thought the image couldn't look any prettier, Derrick proved me wrong. 

Oh, and I should point this out, too. The title of this entry, Needs More Beautiful Color!, is a little nod to my painting professor from college, Li Hu. Li was not only one of the kindest and most talented people I have ever gotten to know, he had one of the best taglines ever. "It's pretty good… but I think it needs more beautiful color!" Ask any of his students, he always said that. But, you know what? He was always right. So, Li, don't worry, we are giving the film more beautiful color! I promise. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WORDS ABOUT MONEY, AND AN INCREDIBLE COMMUNITY.

There is one thing that both John and I have come to terms with, independent of each other, but through a similar progression of thoughts and life decisions. We will never be rich. We will never be anything more than hard-working, lower-middle class kids from the Midwest. We’re just fine with that. Our minds work in a similar fashion, our motivations and desires are similar, and all of it coincides with a lifestyle that puts others before our selves in almost every aspect of our lives. This, of course, creates a problematic situation when it comes time to fund an independent film!

Despite our good fortune of having so many gracious friends to donate their time and energy, there is still a need for money to make art, particularly film. The goal of a filmmaker is to create a believable universe where their story exists. It is so much more complicated than just giving people words to read in front of a camera, you need to breathe life into the world in which these characters live. To do this, you need money. Bottom line, we needed money.

 I’m not going to give you a grocery list of expenses from our budget, determined in pre-production, but the total of that list was high (by our personal standards). For this we needed to turn to others in order to raise some cash. We debated doing the entire Kickstarter thing, and decided that their fund raising system wasn’t something we wanted to use for Dead Weight. It was important for us to raise the money independently. Pride? Maybe, but we're prideful assholes, at least we can admit it.

If you take a look at the list of executive producers on our newly approved IMDB page, you’ll see a whole list of names in the full list of cast and crew, some of those people are executive producers. These are a few of the people who have faith in our concept and believed in our ability to make it a reality, and a few of the people are in a financial situation that enables them to support us. All of these people are responsible for giving us the chance, and without them we wouldn’t be here, nearing completion on the film.  These folks are all individuals that have come into our lives in a variety of ways, and there is one in particular I want to focus on in this blog post, Nancy Cremer.
Jon Kitley wants you to join the Kryptic Army.

Our relationship with Nancy is a perfect example of how supportive the community of horror fans really is, and that is the primary reason I wanted to share the story of our history with her. Nancy has only known us for a very short time, but the way by which she has come to know us, as John has highlighted in his comments below, is a very common story in the history of Dead Weight. I've spent the last decade of my life working in the music industry, more specifically independent music. So when I first became exposed to the horror film community I was shocked by how positive and excited people were, how willing they were to bend over backwards to support independent artists. It really threw me for a loop, after my spirit was so broken by the music industry. I thought film would be worse, boy was I a fool. That's really the catalyst for my writing this blog post. There are some incredible people out there involved in the independent film/horror communities. Everyone involved in Dead Weight that John met over the past six years or so, and eventually introduced me to, they're the cream of that very group of people. I have the most sincere appreciation for many of them, and I feel honored to be involved in this project with them.


John and Nancy were first introduced by way of The KrypticArmy, which is sort of like a horror film viewing club run by Kitley’s Crypt, very fun times. In late 2010 They bonded over a discussion regarding Nancy’s first viewing of Carpenter’s The Thing. John and Nancy then met in person during a convention called HorrorHound in Indianapolis during March of 2011. John shared the story of Dead Weight with a lot of folks that weekend, Nancy amongst them. 

Pre-production on the film turned to production and Nancy came to know us both personally, witnessing our devotion to this project. Eventually she made the decision become one of the sources of financial support that we so desperately relied on to make our budget a reality.

This is one of the key things I personally love about the path we’ve taken with this film. Every dime we raised was due to the personal relationships and personal histories we have with our executive producers. I can’t imagine this sort of support coming from any other community. The horror community is something that continues to amaze and inspire me every step of the way. Without people like Nancy, Dan & Mel Lowin, Dan Kiggins, Aaron Christensen, and rest of those that John has connected with in the horror community over the last few years, we could never do this.


Dead Weight is fundamentally a child of the horror community. It will always be a horror film to us, despite how much it leans in the direction of drama and suspense most of the time. It was founded in horror, and brought into existence by the love for horror.

Dead Weight actor Aaron Christensen with executive producer to be, Nancy Cremer. HorrorHound 2011, a fateful weekend.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

FULL TRAILER & THEATRICAL POSTER RELEASED

Last night we had a photo exhibit in Oshkosh featuring photography by Mary Manchester from the first week of production back in April. It was an incredible evening, with a huge turn out. We have a lot of support and excitement coming from the local community, and we're very grateful for that.

So, here is the full trailer & theatrical poster that we premiered last night. Enjoy & share!






Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DEAD WEIGHT: THROUGH A STILL LENS

Producing a film is a long, tumultuous process. It takes an immense amount of preparation and can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task, especially when produced independently. “Though A Still Lens” takes us behind the production of Dead Weight, a feature-length film written and directed by Oshkosh natives Adam Bartlett and John Pata and produced by Lee Marohn and Dan Kiggins. It was filmed in and around the Oshkosh area during twelve days in 2011. The film tells the story of Charlie Russell, following him on a journey to find his girlfriend, Samantha, in a world destroyed by a biological outbreak.

Early on in pre-production, the filmmakers knew they would want someone to document the filming process. To achieve this they brought on longtime friend and accomplished still photographer, Mary Manchester. Over the course of the initial week of filming in April, and first day of May, Mary took over 1,300 photos of every aspect of the production. “Through A Still Lens” is a photography exhibit that showcases a small portion of these images, all favorites personally selected by the filmmakers and Mary Manchester. The exhibit premieres at 6:00 PM on October 1st, 2011, at the New Moon Café at 401 N Main St., Oshkosh, WI during the October Gallery Walk. The photos will remain on display throughout the month of October.

During the exhibit there will be a new trailer for the film premiering, alongside the unveiling of the film’s theatrical poster. Many members of the cast and crew will also be in attendance during the exhibit premiere.



Facebook Event Page



Thursday, August 25, 2011

STANGAAR THE MIGHTY

This past week there was a string of emails that passed around some cast members and production team about one very important subject. Stangaar the possum. Producer Lee Marohn was inspired to write a song of victory on the subject. I'll try and summarize this story, the freeing of Stangaar, in the most concise way possible, bear with me here.

The third day of filming there was a terrible blizzard that more or less destroyed our plans to film a very important scene at the original location. After nearly two hours of failed attempts to make it work we admitted defeat to the Wisconsin April weather. We spent the next hour and a half at a gas station in Pickett warming ourselves and generally increasing morale amongst the cast and crew. One key factor to this was the acquisition of one plush possum, who informed actor Aaron Christensen of his name via telepathic message. This was easily the most identifiable and critical turning point in our week. We went from our lowest low to our highest high in the matter of a couple hours. Found a new location, moved on, and everything turned out far better than we would've been able to manage under any other condition. Seth Frank, freer of Stangaar, we are forever indebted to you.

Without further delay, we are proud to present "Stangaar The Mighty," by producer Lee Marohn.

(Note: Must be sung by a mixed choir of children and axe-wielding Vikings)

He came to us one Tuesday morn
When things were looking grim
His goodness spred unto us all
And now we cherish him.

Stangaar the Mighty
Stangaar the Bold
Stangaar inspired us
In the chilling April cold.

Stangaar joined our little crew
And things have turned out great
What did we do without him
He's the hero of DEAD WEIGHT.

O, Stangaar the Mighty
Stangaar the Bold
Stangaar inspired us
In the chilling April cold.

Stangaar, official mascot and source of limitless energy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

STILL IN THE FOG...


Lead actor, Joe Belknap, graces us with another heartfelt blog, this time recapping the final week of filming Dead Weight: 

We’ve wrapped. Dead Weight has wrapped.

Man, that sounds so weird.

I hesitated awhile before sitting down to write a second blog exploring the final days of filming. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to help but just repeat what I already expressed back in April. I’d just be echoing myself. Spinning my wheels.

But maybe that’s okay. Maybe gratitude is a subject that never tires.

That’s a good thing, too, because I find myself, for the second time, gushing with gratitude after my final week of shooting Dead Weight. For the second time, we were surrounded by supportive, dedicated humans. The whole process of creating Dead Weight has been dependent on people who have been willing to do just about anything to help us out. We had those people the first week of filming, and, boy howdy, we had them the second week, too. Please allow me to offer a guided tour of Oshkosh (and surrounding areas) as I introduce to you a handful of new friends:

When in doubt, talk about Rush at The Reptile Palace.
Thanks to Marlo and the Algoma Club. Have you ever been given a ten minute warning that you would be “fast dancing” to Weird Al without the aid of adult beverages? Really? Never? Yeah, well, if it ever does happen, I can only hope it’s at a place as classy as the Algoma Club; a historic building with a really beautiful interior.

Thanks to Collin and the staff at Benvenuto’s. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had pasta and wine (well, juice) at 9 in the morning, but I have and it’s awesome. What a friendly and accommodating staff. Everyone there was so willing to participate in what we were doing. And mints! They have free mints!

Thanks to Beth and The Reptile Palace. Everyone there was ready to roll the second we arrived, and I think it might end up being one of the best looking scenes in the film.  I didn’t even care that my Schplatz tasted a lot like water.

Thanks to Joseph and the Ramada Plaza in Fond Du Lac. When the hallways prompt conversations about Alanis Morissette tattoos, you know you’re in a place of magic.

Thanks to Matt and Spark Advertising in Neenah. Can I please work and live in your building? Please? I’m really good at, like, drinking coffee and getting other people coffee. Do you need someone like that, maybe?

Patiently awaiting her man at the Outagamie County Airport.
Thanks to Kim, Pla and the Outagamie County Regional Airport. Yeah, that’s right. Dead Weight filmed in an airport. You know, the place where the planes live. I mean, geez, it’s like we’re really makin’ movin’ pictures here!

Thanks to Michelle and the Paine Art Center and Gardens. What a beautiful garden and an absolute perfect location for what we were filming that day. I was so getting my Thoreau on in that place.

Thanks to Adam and Cari for letting us take over their house for a night. We’re not always the most convenient bunch to have around, what with our lights, camera and action hubbub. Hope we didn’t wreck up the place too much. (Special shout out to Mocha and Extra Foam! I willy miss you, you wittle wabbits.)

Thanks to Jason, Big D, and Cranky Pat’s in Oshkosh. Man. What a place to wrap. Certainly a bittersweet night, but I had some of the best pizza in the state to help me cope. Eat away the pain, Joe. Eat it all away.

And, of course, thanks to John, Adam, Travis (director of photography) and Mary (actress extraordinaire).  I originally intended to detail my admiration for their hard work here, but I think I’ve already exhausted readers with the length of this blog. For now, I’ll withhold those sentiments… for now.

Everyone else we worked with the last week of filming- those who gave us access to locations, extras (holy hell, did we have some radical extras), food prep folk, the incredible Lance, Lee, Cole and Seth, those who came around for minor roles that have a major impact - you’re the lifeblood of this film. We’ve fed off your enthusiasm and encouragement. We’ve taken your own dedication as inspiration. You made what we were doing so much easier, and so much more fun. Thank you.

There’s still so much work to do, though the bulk of my own work is complete. The long and exhausting days of trudging through the schizophrenic Wisconsin weather with my friends has passed; the late nights of filming into the ridiculously wee hours of the morn are over.

But I know I’ll miss it. I already do. When you get to spend that time with the people I have, you just can’t feel any other way.

We’ll premiere early 2012, and it’ll be a party, baby.

You comin’? 

-Joe Belknap

A nice (yet incredibly hot and humid) afternoon at the Paine Art Center (with wonderful company).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON THE CREW: COLE GARROW

Once again, we take some time to put the spotlight on an incredibly dedicated individual, who was with us most of production, Cole Garrow. I have known Cole since high school, but this was the first time we ever worked on a project together. Cole was essential to have on set, he worked hard whenever you needed him to, and was able to make others laugh with his odd comments and jokes. When you are facing stress like we had during production, being able to laugh and smile is key.

Let's turn it over to Cole and hear what he has to say:

I never thought too much about what it meant to be 'dedicated' to something (especially the more intangible things, like the production of a movie) until after the first couple days of helping to shoot Dead Weight. The work wasn’t hard, but the weather was demoralizing and pure shit. I'm a bit glad I didn’t have to show up for the blizzard day... What I realized after getting out of the second day of shooting and once the feeling started to come back to my face and toes was that I was really interested in/dedicated to seeing this project through for its own benefit and for everyone else involved. In the process of helping out on an awesome project; I made some friends, got my first case of windburn, had some good laughs, set up a tent for absolutely no reason, discovered the world of film making and enjoyed some tasty sandwiches/wraps (thanks, Cari!).

My favorite parts were: Manning the boom, being Travis' helper, the last night of filming and making inane references to Mr. Show and Tim and Eric with Seth. Stuffing dummies was no slouch, either, but that doesn’t compare with the Bag Hutch® (right, Seth?). Throughout my involvement (but especially on the last night, Seth and I were like a two-man-grip-army), it felt like I was making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I make 'differences' all the time, but this one felt like it had value. I was happy to help, happy to meet all the wonderful people that I did, and happy to have my work appreciated. Granting I'm still alive, and still within a reasonable geographic proximity, John and Adam, you have a dedicated grip. Thanks for letting me be a part of the magic...
...“CAR!!”

-Cole Garrow



Cole takes Joe's "crazy" lunch order.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A BLOG UPDATE FOR THE LADIES

Early on in the writing process John and I came to an agreement on something. We needed to put an immense amount of effort into ensuring our women characters were not weak, overly-emotional and stereotypical. A weak woman character is one of the things that will break a story for me, whether its in comics, film or literature. Across the spectrum I can pull numerous examples off the top of my head, stories that I feel are made weaker by the lack of power on the female front.

Alan Moore is, without a doubt, one of my favorite writers. His imagination and firm grip on the English language are so enthralling to me. I love it. When someone told me how he thought he was a magician, for real, I thought he was nuts. Well, I wasn't far off, he is a bit out there, but when I watched an interview where he explained his stance on what he considers "magic" and how the worlds he creates are his spells and his creations (that's how I understood it anyhow), it made a lot of sense, and the romantic writer somewhere deep inside me began to greatly respect that idea.

But when it comes down to it, there are some fundamental problems I find with his writing. Swamp Thing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and especially Watchmen. All books I absolutely LOVE, that have a great amount of imagination and incredible writing. I'm getting all fuzzy just thinking about it! But one place they fall short is in their awful, terrible, weak, emotional wreck female characters. I think Watchmen suffers the most, which breaks my heart. Even if a female character does have any sort of power, they are entirely dependent on a male character emotionally or otherwise. Don't try and tell me about Promethea, either. I've read two trades and I fail to see any great strides in actual feminine strength.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

OPEN CASTING CALL FOR EXTRAS

DEAD WEIGHT - open casting call for extras.
Head Trauma Productions and Gilead Media are now openly casting for extras in their feature length presentation Dead Weight. The specifics for the filming and roles available are as follows:

- Filming will be taking place from August 1st, 2011 to August 3rd, 2011 between the hours of 10:00am and 10:00pm each day (with a potential of running later). You are not required to work the entire twelve hour day. but there are specifics "shifts" and periods for which we will need completely committed individuals for the roles.

- You must be age 18+. We are looking for a wide range of ages here, particularly for those age 30+.

- The majority of these scenes will be filmed in Oshkosh, but there will be one filmed in Grand Chute.

- Anyone selected for a role is responsible for their own transportation & transportation expenses.

- Food will be available free of charge to all those selected to fill a role.

- There is no pay for these positions.

- You are required to sign a waiver giving Head Trauma Productions the right to use your performance in any way they see fit without additional compensation.

- Some scenes will call for casual clothing, some for more formal clothing. Only apply if you're capable of appearing in either.

- Your name will not appear in the credits of the film.

-  *CRITICAL* Any individual selected for an extra role must be committed to the date and time for which they are cast. Although you are not being paid, we do ask that you consider this a job. We are relying on those we cast to fill a position and we cannot have anyone canceling on us. This also means that you are NOT allowed to bring friends, children, parents, extended family members, pets, neighbors, your mail man or anyone else that is not personally selected by Head Trauma Productions to fill a role.

If you're interested in applying for the role of an extra please email the following information to info@carryingdeadweight.com. Make the subject of this email "DEAD WEIGHT EXTRAS." Do not send any attachments or photos, just answer these questions in the body of an email.

Name
Phone number
Email address
Location
Type of transportation you have
Age
Gender
Height
Weight
Dates available (From Aug 1 to Aug 3)
Times available (From 10:00am to 10:00pm. Please also note if you're available later)

All submissions must be received by Noon on Monday, July 25th, 2011. We will respond to every request by Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 6:00pm.

Thank you! We look forward to hearing from everyone interested in a role!
- Adam Bartlett & John Pata
Co-producers. Co-directors.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

THE NATURE OF THE BEAST

Throughout the majority of our blog posts we've elaborated on the multitude of lessons we learned during filming. Chiefly among them was this: nothing goes according to plan. No doubt you've read about the things that taught us these hard lessons, so we will spare you the recap.

John and I began this project with an absurdly ambitious agenda, and a near-impossible schedule in mind. We knew it would be rough, but we also knew that when we want something, we make it happen. There's been many things we've worked on together, a lot of things that required an absurd amount of hard work, and we've always been able to pull through in one capacity or another. We've always overcome the challenges and achieved our goals, whether it be deadlines or other miscellany objectives. That's one reason it took us so long to make an official announcement on the status of Dead Weight. There is one basic fact that we have finally come to terms with after hours of frustrating discussion.

Dead Weight will not be released in 2011.

That is actually the first time I've had to write those words. Sure, I've explained the situation to a lot of people, but seeing the written word on the screen feels so definitive, so permanent.

As we've said, there are many people giving up a lot to help us with this production, and there are a great deal of people with busy schedules that we need to find a way to work around. We are very much at the mercy of their personal and professional lives. We are not bitter about this fact, we're very sympathetic actually. We have a lot we need to work around, too. Does that make it less frustrating? No. Patience is (regretfully) not a virtue John or myself possess in any great capacity.

The good news: as I write this we have three days blocked out in August. We've scheduled this period of time and we're preparing to begin setting up locations so we can bang out the final shots of the film. As you'll soon learn, Dead Weight is really two stories that are related and intertwined. One was completed in April, the second will be completed over these three days in August. The already-completed portion makes up the vast majority of the film, while this second portion really works in support of that. This means we really only have about 25% of the film left to shoot, and it won't be in the middle of fields in the snow, so that's cool.

There are many things that have come up in support our decision to push back the film, things that will ultimately result in a much stronger production overall. In addition to that, there are key  opportunities we will now be able to take advantage of that were not a possibility before.

That's the long and short of it. A bummer we have to wait longer to unleash this monstrous project? Absolutely. Will it be for the better? Without a god damn doubt.

Right now we're looking at early 2012, and that's really all we're comfortable saying. There are too many new variables to get anymore specific. But you can bet that we're just as excited as we were three months ago.

We really have to take the time to thank you for your continued support. We're constantly thinking of everyone who has given us positive feedback thus far. We know that many of you want to see this film, and believe us, nothing would make us happier than showing you the finished product. In time this will happen. You are the coal in the belly of this beastly engine. We will not let you down.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON THE CREW: LANCE FORD

Being a crew member isn't the most glamorous job on a film. Typically, you are the first to arrive on set, and the last to leave. You get stuck with the shit jobs, have more down time than anyone else, and (let's face it) overlooked due to the cast. Without a doubt, the crew is equally important as your cast. They make everything happen. So, it's time to put the spotlight on the crew.

We reached out to our crew, letting them know that we want to hear their voice, their side of production. For this first time around, we have Lance Ford. Adam and I have known Lance for a few years now, as we met him at (where all the cool people in Oshkosh meet) House of Heroes Comics and Games. Lance has always been super supportive of what we have done, and has shown nothing but the utmost most enthusiasm when it came to Dead Weight. Lance was one of the few crew members we had every single day, from start to finish. Hell, he took his first week long vacation from work in 23 years. To his wonderful wife, Monica, thanks for allowing him to spend that vacation with us. The next vacation will be spent with you, we insist. As if that isn't a testament to Lance's dedication, everyday he was officially the first one to arrive and the last to leave. Lance worked his ass off, and made all of us incredibly proud to have him on board.

I've rambled enough. It's time to turn the spotlight on Lance. So, please, take it away:

Lance slating the first shot of Dead Weight.
Before the week of filming Dead Weight, I'd tell my family and friends that I was going to be helping behind-the-scenes on the set of a movie that was being made by two friends in Oshkosh. They'd ask what it was about, and after explaining what it was and that it was being filmed in and around Oshkosh, they'd be - "Wow, that's cool". And the whole experience for me, since I like movies so much, and enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes/making-of features and interviews with the actors which so many DVD's have - it was a perfect fit. I was so excited to be helping out and since it was my first week-long vacation in over 20 years, I'm glad it turned out to be a memorable one. I was totally pumped up for days prior to filming, even though I had no idea what tasks I would be assigned. I guess that sort of added to my excitement a bit. And since I really didn't know that much about the script, it was really cool to see it unfold chronologically right before my eyes as it was filmed. That aspect, by itself, was indeed a royal treat. Although, I did miss the last day of shooting in Neenah, due to a leg injury. I was really bummed about that, just ask John. I even told him I felt like I was letting them down, and being the great guy that he is, he reassured me that that that was not the case. Which brings us to something which John said on that last day - he said that it wasn't just his and Adam's film, it was Our film, as well (maybe its a good thing that I wasn't there, because that would have brought tears to my eyes). I guess I never really thought about it that way before hearing it put that way, because it had been written by John and Adam and it was their commitment, perseverance, overall drive and undying dedication to making Dead Weight that made it all happen. And because of their devotion, it enabled us to be a part of such a terrific undertaking. An extremely huge round of applause to both of them.

The stories that you hear about cast and crew members who have worked with the same people for years and how they become like a family isn't only true about people who have worked together for years, it's true when you've also only worked with some people for a week. It seemed as if I'd known everyone I met on the set forever. And when filming was done, I missed them. Thank God for Facebook. I met so many fascinating actors and crew members, and I wouldn't change that for anything. Everyone who acted in the film, even those who had never acted before, were unbelievable. I lost count of the number of times while standing there watching, that I got goosebumps or a tear let loose from the corner of my eye at how excellent a job they were doing. And excellent doesn't even begin to describe their performances. I was totally blown away by the range of emotions brought forth during the films intense sequences.

Lance in said snowstorm.
From Day One, everyone I met was so down-to-earth and fun-loving. Professionalism reigned when it was called for, but jokes and laughter were present all day, every day. Yes, even on the day of the snowstorm, laughter became a weapon to ward off the blues. I have delivered to Ripon many times since and every time I drive by the BP gas station in Pickett memories flood over me and it makes me smile. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the 80+ hours that I was on set that week. It was so difficult going back to work, as I'm sure it was for alot of us on the set. The first day back to work, I was standing there running my press and as I looked around, I wondered "Why am I here? I want to be back on the set making another movie." Every aspect of being there was awesome, from driving Dan Kiggins to and from locations, to chauferring A.C and Michelle to their romantic get-away at the Americinn for their anniversary (courtesy of the cast), right on up to getting to chat with cast and crew members during down-time, to getting to yell "QUIET ON THE SET!!" right after John called "ACTION!!" That was truly AWESOME!!! Working a little bit with Travis as he was getting the light set up was also pretty darn cool. Like I said - every aspect of this entire experience is truly something that I will carry in my memory from now until the end of time. Years from now, I know that I will talk about it with the same enthusiasm.

For me the week flew by, despite the long hours or disasterous weather, because something was happening every minute of every day. One of the most hilarious moments occurred off camera at Ryf's house when Dan Kiggins did his "tuck", and Sam opened the door and there was Dan standing there looking all innocent. Sam kept right in character and didn't mess up the take. I'm surprised I didn't start laughing out loud and ruin the scene. Good Times.

It was really great getting to know everyone on set. I know there were a few people I really didn't get a chance to talk to much, but those I did get to know a bit, I would be proud to call my friend.

And now, I would like to take this opportunity to thank John and Adam for allowing me to be a part of this endeavor. It was truly an honor and a privilege to get to know both of you a little better and to help you fulfill your dream. Thank You.


-Lance Ford


One last thing from John: You can pick up Lance's first novel, Ace Kincaid: In Search of Heroes at House of Heroes Comics and Games, 407 N. Main St., Downtown Oshkosh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES

Tonight, I was reminded of one of the incredibly bizarre moments from filming. And not just of filming, either, this definitely goes down as one of the most bizarre moments of my life.

I debated whether or not to share this story. Not because I am embarrassed, or anything like that. I just wasn't sure if people would want to hear such a story. But, then I thought, hey people like to hear all the weird behind-the-scenes stories… so why not? Things are gonna get a little "risque" here, consider yourselves warned.

Day two of production started with us in a house, filming a little kitchen scene. This was a quite welcomed change from the insane winds we faced on day one. We spent a couple hours in the house, and had everything from moments of panic, to arguing, physical confrontation, and even projectile vomiting… and that doesn't even include what we actually filmed. Or does it?

Once we left the comforts of the house in the city, we ventured back to the outskirts of town, to film the exterior shots of the house. As we finished our shots at this location, Cari pulled up with lunch/dinner, the infamous Wrap Car, as did three additional cast members; Matty Field, Jake Martin, and Mark Muetzel. It was time to step into the woods and film ourselves a scene around a campfire.

Nothing too bizarre yet. Just you wait, I gotta set it up first.

As we drive onto (producer/script supervisor/location manager/script editor/actor) Lee Marohn's step-dad's land, Travis (our DP) and I get the lighting/camera truck stuck in the mud. Tensions were high at the moment, but with the help of the crew, we got it out no problem. We carry all the gear a couple hundred feet into the woods, and start setting up for the scene. This was our first night shoot, and we had about eleven pages of dialog to cover. We knew it was going to be a LONG night.

For the campfire itself, well, it became everyone's arch nemesis. It didn't seem to matter where you were positioned, the smoke went straight into your eyes. The cast had to sit around that fire, smoke in the eyes, for a good three straight hours. In between every take, the cast shielded their eyes with their hands, hoping to find a few moments of comfort. Needless to say, once we wrapped the scene (around 12:30am), everyone was happy to get the hell out of there.

I know, I know, still not that bizarre. Well, hold onto yo' butts, here we go.

All the gear was packed up, the cast was sent home and we were just getting ready to leave the location. And finally, that damn fire was extinguished. Now, it was dark as hell out there; no fire, no lights, just darkness. It was fairly dry in the woods, so we wanted to make damn sure the fire was completely out. All the water we had was dumped on the fire, and I don't recall exactly who it was, but someone piped up and said, "Anyone have to pee? If someone pees on the coals, that should do it." I did a little piss check. Yep, I should be able to squeeze something out.

So, there I stood, in a circle around the remaining campfire with Adam, (producers) Lee and Dan, and (crew members) Seth, Lance, and Cole. There might have been someone else, I can't remember. A few of the guys had flashlights, some were pointed on the coals, and a one or two were pointed at me, right on the crotch. Well, time was wasting, we all wanted to leave, so…

I was pissing on a fire, standing around with at least six sets of eyes, and flashlights, all on me. All male eyes, mind you. People were pointing out coals that were still hot, it was almost as if they all were my support, encouraging me on.

Now, I'm sure all of you are wondering, "Did you successfully put out all the coals, John?" You better believe I did. But, I can't say I've ever had a bunch of dudes stare at me when I was pissing, let alone with flashlights lighting up the scene. This is a great example of the strong bonding that happened on set. That, and I guess you could say that some people have shame. Sigh… I don't.

God, I miss filming...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"FILMS ARE STRESSFUL, AND THEY'RE HARD TO MAKE..."

It's currently 12:54pm on Tuesday, June 7… and it's 92 degrees. That's the outside temperature. Inside my apartment it's gotta be at least a solid 10 degrees hotter. Ah, yes, the joys of living on the second floor without air conditioning. I was working on the edit some more, doing a little fine tweaking, but I had enough. Way too damn hot. So, I grabbed my laptop, retreated downstairs to the illustrious House of Heroes Comics + Games, to sit in the nice, comfortable, cool air and work on this blog.

It's been hot like this for the past few days now. Hell, maybe even over a week. When it's this hot (and without air conditioning), it's a constant state of discomfort. I don't sleep too much, my appetite is gone so I'm not eating, and I feel like stress levels are high. Hey, wait a minute. This sounds exactly like the week of production: High stress levels, little-to-no sleep, not eating… such fond memories.

Looking back, I wonder how my body ever made it through production. Over the course of our seven day shoot, the most sleep I got in a night was just over three hours. On top of that, I ate a whopping four, count 'em, FOUR, meals. Let's say you're one of those "normal" people who eat three meals a day, and you want to know how many meals you would eat in a week. Well, it's easy. You take three (meals a day), multiply it by seven (days), and your answer is twenty-one. Any "normal" person would have ate twenty-one meals that week. Me, I ate four. Now, don't be fooled. Don't get the impression that there wasn't any food to eat. We made sure to have plenty of food (on and off the set), but when I get in work mode, I just go.

Then there's the whole water thing. So, I am somewhat addicted to water. I drink an absurd amount of water. No joke, I easily drink hundreds of ounces a day. I always have my canteen on me, gotta have my water by my side. But, during production, well, that was another story. Just how I didn't feel the need to eat, I never really felt thirsty. Aside from that, my brain went: water = having to piss. Having to piss = taking time away from filming. Taking time away from filming = no good. This is silly. I mean, how long does it actually take to piss? if having to piss would really take time away from filming, how much time are we talking about? Exactly. Silly. But, like I said, when I get in work mode… There was actually one day, I can't remember exactly which one, but there was one day I got up in the morning and peed, and then didn't pee again until I went to bed… 21 hours later. That was the day I did not drink anything. Let me tell you, when I peed right before I went to bed, my pee wasn't clear. It wasn't yellow. It was a light brown. Yeah, never had that happen before.

Okay, I don't tell you all this to make me sound all bad ass and shit (if you know me, you know I am not all bad ass and shit). I don't tell you this, hoping I will get some sympathy (I did it all to myself, don't feel bad for me). I don't even tell you this to make the shoot sound crazier than it was. I tell you all of this for one reason, to show that while making a film truly terrific, it's also really damn hard. It's ugly. It's trying. It's challenging. It's painful. There's been extremely positive talk about the experience of making Dead Weight, and, without a doubt, it's all true. However, there's always two sides to a story. It's hard to appreciate the good without the bad, right?

It's rough making an independent film, and Dead Weight has been no exception. Think about it this way, when making an independent, DIY film, EVERYTHING is against you. If my memory serves me correctly, on day three, the beautifully amazing Michelle Courvais (who plays Meredith) said filmmaking is nothing but problem solving. This is so true it hurts. With this problem solving comes stress, and anger, and frustration, and depression, and… pretty much every other negative emotion one can think of. Sure, once all is said and done you forget the ugliness, focusing and embracing on the positive aspects of your experience. But this doesn't make it easy.

So, what makes it easy? What makes it possible to push your body through such hell to make a film? The night before production began, Adam was just getting read to leave my place, and I told him there was the first production video blog for The Hobbit, and we had to watch it. Let it be known, Adam is quite the Lord of the Rings nerd, and I am also a big fan, but I am Peter Jackson nerd. As we watched the ten minute video, we began nerding out, but also released we were getting ready to embark on a similar journey. Okay, maybe not a similar journey, but a film making journey nonetheless. As the video came to an end, Peter addressed the cast and crew moments before the cameras rolled for the first time on The Hobbit, and this is what he said: Films are stressful, and they're hard to make, but ultimately what makes them fun is the people you work with. And that, my friends, is the truth.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

AND THEN THERE WAS EDITING

Say what? It's been two and a half weeks since the last blog update? What in the hell is going on around here?

Oh, yeah… post-production. Even though we have a few days left to shoot (which were scheduled for May but now have been pushed back to June), I have been in an editing frenzy, especially the past couple of days.

For those that know me, it's no secret: I love movies. Yeah, I know saying you "love" something is cliche and can even be generic as hell to say. But it's true. I became infected with the movie bug at a very early age in life. On top of loving movies, I love the process of making a movie. One of the culprits for this love of film making is most certainly the terrific (and gone but not forgotten) TV show called Movie Magic. As a young lad, I ate this shit up. Seeing that I grew up on a heavy dosage of horror, sci-fi and action flicks, Movie Magic just furthered me asking the question, "How'd they do it?"

I never had much of a desire to be in front of the camera, I always wanted to be involved in the process. Wait, that's not entirely true. Even to this day, I am more than willing to be a body in some huge gore scene. Ah… a boy can dream, right? Wow, what the hell am I going on about?! Jeez, put a keyboard in front of me and I will just type and type and type…

Okay, I am going to get to the point. As I already stated, ever so generically, I love movies. I love making movies. I really enjoy every step of the process, however, post-production (editing in particular) holds a special place in my heart. Which is kinda of funny to me, seeing that editing is very similar to putting together a puzzle. I don't really like putting together puzzles. As the kids say, WTFuck?

I started editing about three days after we finished principle production, but haven't really devoted all my time to it until now. In the last 36 hours, I have spent over 24 hours editing. That's a lot of time spent with these characters in this little post-apocalyptic world that Adam and I have had in our heads for almost two years now. Which is why I am so drawn to editing: you finally get to see the film. Yes, it was an absolute trip (really, did I just say "trip"?) to have our first cast reading, see everyone in wardrobe for the first time, get on location, and actually create this film, but in editing you finally see it all come together.

There's a lot of (insanely awesome) people (who I am forever grateful for) that can back me up on this: the week of filming was rough. Don't get me wrong, though, it was easily the best week of my life and I wouldn't want to change a single moment of it, but it was an absolute test of human will. Need proof? Look at this photo of Adam. The way he looks in that photo is how we both felt for seven days straight. On top of not getting more than three hours of sleep each night, we faced pretty much every miserable filming condition possible in the first four days. We had to rework/rewrite scenes on the spot (courtesy of a wonderful mid-April blizzard), find new locations last minute and deal with all sorts of other stress. In what should have been a complete and utter disaster, turned out to strengthen the film because of the cast and crew. They might not be totally aware of this, but they are the reason Adam and I didn't lose it. With the conditions we were filming in, it would have been expected for every single person on the cast and crew to complain, get pissed, and quite frankly, give up. Hell, people took a week vacation from work (for one person it was the first in 23 years) to be a part of Dead Weight. It's not like anyone was getting paid, there really was no reason for everyone to power through it all. Except for the fact that they wanted to. The wanted to be with this project till the end and because of this fact, Dead Weight is NOT Adam and I's film. It is the film of every single person you will see listed in the credits.

Ah, again, with the tangents! I actually was on path to where I wanted to go, but it was just taking a bit to get there. I'm not trying to take away from everyone who worked on Dead Weight (don't you worry, you will be getting your own blog entry) but this entry is suppose to be about editing.

Talking about production does in fact deal with editing. As mentioned (and will be time and time again), it was one stressful week. When it comes time to editing, all that stress is gone, now I can solely focus on the footage and performances. And holy shit, has it been amazing. There's nothing like putting together a scene and realizing that every single aspect came together and the end product is better than you could have even imagined. This has happened so many times, and the reason for that is because of the people we have in front of the camera. I know most of you reading this know very little about this project (since Adam and I like to work in secrecy), but you will find out that this is one emotional film. Every actor was pushed to the limit, and then some. I'm not just saying that either, trying to be the guy who's all, "Oh, our film is so crazy, etc etc etc". From day one, Adam and I knew we wanted to make this film be about the characters and nothing else. If you go into this expecting to see a gore flick, tons of action, and not to mention zombies, you are going to be severely disappointed.

Again, getting off topic! My mind is going everywhere tonight. Okay, let's wrap this up. If you read this whole thing you know I said a lot, but not so much about editing. Here's the abridged version of what I wanted to get at: tons and tons of editing, so many awesome shots (thanks to Travis), so many amazing performances (thanks to the cast), so much excitement and we cannot wait to show you all this film.

Is it October yet?

Friday, April 29, 2011

DEAD WEIGHT TEASER TRAILER


We are so excited to bring you the first look at Dead Weight. Even though we aren't done with production yet (just a few more shots), we couldn't wait to give you something to feast your eyes on.

This film is the product of many seriously talented and dedicated individuals. We could not have made it without every single persons involvement. 

Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DEAD WEIGHT EXTRAS CONTEST WINNERS!

It took a little longer than we hoped for, but it is finally time to announce the winners for the Dead Weight Extras contest! We hoped to get the winners announced right away, but needless to say, things got somewhat hectic once production approached.

Here's how everything will work: We have 4-5 more days of filming left, all will be weekend shoots in May. The majority of them will take place in various Oshkosh locations, with also making a stop in Appleton. The winners will be informed of the locations and times, and it is their personal responsibility to make it happen.

Sadly, we cannot shoot around anyone's schedule and cannot cover transportation. Once the times, dates, and locations are set, they are set. In the event that any winner will not be able to attend the shoot (for whatever reason), we will redraw and announce a new winner.

Let's get onto it, whatta say? All winners will also be contacted directly. The six winners of the Dead Weight Extras contest are:

Mark H.
Todd K.
Sue H.
Timothy L.
David H.
Lindsey T.