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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


In eight days we will begin filming what is, undoubtably, the single most exciting project I've ever been a part of. I'm more proud of DEAD WEIGHT than I have been of anything else creative I've done in my life. But it's been a long road getting to this point, many ups and downs, many long stressful nights, and many long exciting nights.

The original photo is long lost, but this was taken close to the same time.
Roughly two years ago I sent John a simple email including a single attachment. This alley.
We both kept this in the back of our minds, me a little bit more than him. As I sat working at a job I hated I would take time to jot down story ideas. One was a science fiction/horror type story called Weaver, which I plan to work on once Dead Weight is finished, and the other was for the story that would become Dead Weight. There really wasn't much to it aside from a few critical story points, the opening scene and the ending scene.

I shared these ideas, and the name of the film, with John later on in 2009 after I started working at his screen printing shop. He liked the barebones ideas I had, so we decided to flesh them out together and try to put together a more coherent story, fill in the holes within the original outline and try to create something interesting.

Every day we worked together we expounded more and more on our ideas for Dead Weight, until, at one point, we decided there had been enough talk, enough great ideas, and enough excitement over what we were coming up with... it was time to write a movie. 

The original timelines and notes.
We began formally outlining the script October 2009 on a car ride to Madison, WI to drop off an order of shirts we had printed for a customer. This proved to be an immensely fruitful trip, as we ended up ultimately getting a large amount of ideas on paper that ultimately made it into the final draft of the script. It was a very exciting time, but things were just getting started for us. And for this project, which has certainly taken on it's own living breathing existence.

Over the next couple of months we met weekly (or tried to) and slowly cranked out the logistics on how we wanted to handle the primary story telling devices. That was actually probably one of the harder aspects of the production, looking back. Really racking our brains on how to make all of our disjointed ideas work, and flow together to become a coherent and intelligible thing.

As the year progressed, our script did as well. The story changed very little fundamentally. We knew how we wanted to approach the story, the feel, look and overall aesthetic, and we were very happy with how things were going. As we moved into spring we need to start focusing on the Annual Oshkosh Zombie Walk, which John and I began producing in 2009 alongside our friend Seth. The Zombie Walk more or less took over our lives between May and September, and put a lot of Dead Weight on hold. We didn't want to be distracted during writing.

October hit. One month after the (very successful) Zombie Walk and one month to recover our lives a bit before diving into a far grander stage of the movie. We put our noses down and focused on meeting at least twice a week for writing sessions, and ultimately completed writing the first draft on November 12, 2010 at roughly 12:20 am, twenty minutes over our deadline. Not too shabby.

First draft completed. We were in disbelief.
The feeling of achievement at this point was unbelievably. I couldn't believe we actually did it, put together those complex ideas and scenes into something that worked! But there is never rest, ever. Rewrites.

For the next few months we revised, and revised... and revised. The script ultimately went through six drafts (seriously huge changes) before we decided we needed to call it final. We could've gone on drafting it until our fingers fell off. From here on out the changes are going to be relatively minor, and page by page instead of cutting or adding huge batches of story.

I guess that more or less covers the beginning of our journey with this film. We could both go on and on talking about all the different aspects that sort of happened or began along the way. In due time.

Writing sessions powered exclusively by Rishi Tea.

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