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, November 11, 2011


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.

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