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.

Friday, July 22, 2011


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.

I can cite the same sort of instances in so many films, even my favorites. I'm not going to continue to rage on a shit list of terribly written women, I'll just sit tight with Mr. Moore's work because it's the strongest example I have. But this is something we tried to be mindful of throughout our entire pre-production process, something I was very worried about. And not because I was not confident in our ability to write, but moreso because I couldn't exactly pinpoint what criteria MADE a woman character strong. Obviously there are little things here and there, as cited above, but I couldn't draw up a list of dos and don’ts. That's when I realized that we won't be able to do it alone, and that we would need to focus on casting strong women into our roles, so that the actors could work with us to achieve our goal for character quality.

Michelle Courvais (playing Meredith) was the first woman we had in mind. We sent the script to her husband, Aaron Christensen, as we wrote the part of Thomas with him in mind. They read through it together and felt like Michelle would own the role of Meredith. For those that don't know Michelle, just know this, she's intense and amazing. She is such an outspoken, opinionated and creatively passionate woman. Believe me when I use all those adjectives in the most endearing way, because those are qualities I absolute love in a person. I have a fairly intense personality myself and I love it when others can match my intensity.

Michelle may be small, but she is a ball of fury packed into that tiny frame.
Michelle provided so much great input about her character and her character's lines that proved to be critical to building Meredith into exactly the type of character we wanted. I now firmly believe this film would've suffered terribly if Michelle hadn't been involved. The character of Meredith never would've come to life this way and the chemistry on screen between her and Thomas is something to swoon over.

Throughout the rest of the process we tried our best to continue casting actresses who were strong women in their personal lives, realizing that is really the key to ensuring that same power is put on the screen. Reva Fox of Milwaukee plays the role of Janelle. My goodness. I'm unsure where to begin with this one. We did originally write Janelle as a more masculine character, our character casting bio actually described her as a tough Wisconsin woman whose idea of a date night would be a burger and a beer at the pub. We auditioned Reva via email with a recorded video she sent us. Joe (our lead actor playing Charlie) was up for the weekend to do some read through work, so John and I watched her audition video together. She was just perfect, such an unbelievable and beautiful woman. She has such strong features, a strong personality and a great firm voice. Her performance may have actually been the key to making Janelle one of the most powerful characters in the film. I wouldn't want to cross her, that's for certain.

There are others I could go on about, but this blog post would become excessively long (wait, it is already) and I wanted to refrain from too much reminiscing here. I need to take a moment to end on one character, one actress who has brought to life the most important aspect of the film. Mary Lindberg plays the role of Samantha, whom you will come to know early on in Dead Weight. I won't get too much more into her role in the film, because it's going to be something special when you meet her on your own.

Mary was not the actress we had originally cast for the role of Samantha. The original actress had to back out because of personal (and legitimate) reasons. John and I understood entirely, but had to scramble to find a new leading lady. There she was, right in front of us. Although our original Samantha was a great fit, and ultimately made John and I very happy, Mary transformed the character of Samantha into something else entirely. John and I had both grown very close to the character and Mary took Samantha and turned a new corner with her, in the best way. We thought bringing Samantha to life and keeping her independent was going to be a challenge, especially because of her importance in the film. Mary destroyed all of our apprehensions in a single reading. She connected with the character on a fundamental level and injected the role with her own power and personality.

These are just three of the women that understood their characters and brought them to life in such powerful ways. Just another example of how much this film would suffer without the talent and passion that the cast brought to the project.

I can't wait for you to meet these women, and I hope you feel as though they possess the power and depth that we see in them.

-Adam/Dead Weight.

PS - to Michelle and Mary. I still maintain that I did NOT have you handle make-up because you're women. It was only because you're good at it! If I could've done it without making people look like clowns, I gladly would've!

Yeah, I know I'm posting a picture of a woman applying make-up in a post about strong women. But it's seriously the only non-spoiler photo of Mary Lindberg that I have from production so far.


  1. This is coming from a guy who has yet to see the movie/read the screenplay and who also can't stand feminism (in a loose sense).

    One of the biggest problems with women characters in almost any medium is that they so rarely get to explore a full range of topics the way men can and do. There's almost nothing a male character can't explore in a movie--love, hatred, greed, power, money, charity, the list goes on.

    But can you think of an example of a scene in a movie or a TV series or anything in which two women are having a serious discussion about something other than men?

    This is a rhetoric question, of course--surely there exist some examples and I could provide a few if asked--but my larger point is that women characters aren't strictly held back by their lack of independence or whatever (negative) stereotypes with which they may be burdened. It's the fact that overwhelmingly more often than not women characters aren't exploring enough different subjects.

    Matter of fact, I might suggest that this issue is even more burdensome than any issue surrounding the strength or independence of a female character. Any female character can be strong and independent and any actress worth her weight can bring those qualities to life, but that can only take you so far when the only things to which a character compares herself are the men in and out of her life.

    Whether this is the case or not in the movie I can't say. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing the performances and the strength of the characters.

  2. That's exactly the type of thing we consciously tried to avoid during writing. And I never used the "f" word!