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.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Hey, look at that... we did it again! Two entire months without a blog update. We are terribly sorry for the lack of effort we've put forth keeping you, our treasured fans and followers, in the loop. Please forgive us for this transgression.

The amount of work we have put in over the last two months can hardly be measured by any reasonable scale. I wish we could put into reference all of the feelings John and I have experienced recently, it's nearly an impossible task. But you can bet your ass that I'm going to try anyway! So, without further ramblings of the caffeine-induced variety, I present you with the shoddily constructed and relatively inaccurate Dead Weight progress report, 2012 edition! Tons of words, photos, and maybe some videos after the break...

Let's start by telling you that on January 7th we held the private premiere for Dead Weight. This was a closed, invite-only screening for family, closest friends, cast, and crew to experience the film for the first time. That is the event that took up the majority of the last two months. Now let's rewind a bit back to the beginning of December and work our way towards the private premiere and beyond to the present. Too much has happened to me to accurately recall, but this is what I do know.

During the third week of December John drove up to Minneapolis, MN to visit engineer Adam Tucker of Signaturetone Recording. Adam is a brilliant sound magician that I've known since we were both 18 or 19 years old. He used to come into The Exclusive Company, where I hucked records for three years, and we'd talk metal on a regular basis. Adam has also been in some great bands that I've been a fan of. He co-founded Signaturetone a few years ago and has been cranking out unbelievable sounding records ever since. Adam would become our main man for mixing and mastering the film's audio!

Along for the ride, er, well, driving actually, was Nicholas Elert, Dead Weight soundtrack composer and general fellow awesome nerd. They spent three solid days up there handling the mixing and mastering of the audio for the film, which we are incredibly happy with. I wish I could've tagged along, the video footage I've seen looked like a total blast. Except, of course, for the time their serpentine belt blew on and they were stranded in the middle of nowhere.

After finding a place to crash after calling friends of friends of friends, they made their way to Minneapolis the following day and partied down with Tucker. By "partied down" I mean they watched him do this for countless hours.

Tucker, casting spells and reciting incantations. A wizard of the aural realm.

After that it was time to lay the audio in alongside the video of the film and finish cranking out the color correction stuff with Derrick Carey. What a nutball that guy is, in the best possible way. Derrick worked some true withcraft upon our film and has done the impossible in bringing the scenes together to meet our color palette. John's definitely including the color correction business in the full-length making-of, you are not going to believe the things Derrick did to hit our high mark.

The holidays were, of course, nutty for everyone, and there were still many minor adjustments to be made before we hit the private premiere date, so John was bustin' ass to make that happen. As the date approached we realized that there was no way we would be able to render and export a DVD of the film in time for the screening (45 hour render/export... how is that possible?!). At that point we decided we would need to go ahead and stream the project film from the editing program in Derrick's computer. Surprise! Dead Weight curse time!

In a couple paragraphs I will now summarize hours of near vomit inducing anxiety. I am grateful that John didn't even call me to tell me about half of this prior to the premiere, I would've cried. John, actor Joe Belknap, color correction artist Derrick Carey, composer Nicholas Elert, and filmmaking friend Danny DelPurgatorio (seriously, watch out for OTHER, I finally got to see it this week... intense), arrived early at our private screening location to get Derrick's computer set up and ready to rock. They loaded in and booted up very early as to allow for time to address any possible issues. Oh, cool, the project file on the computer decided to just take over an hour to load and confirm all of the files. That is something that never happened in the history of the film's color correction process, of course it happens before the premiere! So after that agonizing period of time, the film finally loads, and the computer absolutely refuses to allow the film to go into full screen mode via the projector display! Danny DelPurgatorio to the rescue with some tape to affix a business card to the glass in front of the projector so the viewers would not be able to see the editing program's project timeline.

Next up, audio problems! Let's just say that without audio commander Nicholas Elert our brains would've exploded in our tiny human skulls. The audio input at the theater wasn't properly grounded. This basically means there was a loud and distracting buzz  over all of the audio. Cue vomit! Mr. Elert expertly addressed the issue and worked with venue staff to find a solution (which basically entailed Nicholas digging through their cable/adapter closet making all sort of strange thinking noises), although he was entirely unhappy with the fact that the audio was projected in mono. Sorry, buddy! It worked, regardless, the buzzing was gone!

Lead actor Joe Belknap looked like this for about two or three hours while everything in our lives exploded.

The entire night went amazingly well, after all of that chaos. We had some minor issues with the project file lagging from the computer during the screening, but in the end we couldn't have been happier. I told people that if things would've gone smoothly early on then I would've been worried. Since everything imploded I was entirely at ease with how the evening would go thereafter. That's how Dead Weight works, friends. Problem solving forever and ever.

The crowd responded exactly how we had hoped, a huge relief and an unbelievably motivating evening. John and I had both been running low on energy prior to the private premiere. Seeing everyone so happy and hearing all those kind words, that refilled our batteries. A new fire had been lit within us and our drive to finish was stronger than ever.

After the private premiere we made plans to begin recording commentary and interviews (for the making of feature). Seeing the core of the Dead Weight family together again to experience and discuss the film together was something beautiful. I will never forget that night we spent in Milwaukee with the actors.

Yes, we know half of those microphones probably weren't necessary. We never claimed to be recording engineers.

It was after this commentary session that John then spent about a week in Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL interviewing many of the people involved in the film. I've seen select footage from those interviews (there are hours of footage logged) and there is some great footage in there, both touching and hilarious. We've been beyond fortunate to work with this people that gave so much to us to create this film, together. I personally can't wait to see what John comes up with for the making of feature, which is currently titled 685 Miles To Wausau. We're both looking forward to hearing these people to tell you their Dead Weight stories, show you the voyage through their own lens. Theirs are the journeys that made ours a reality.

I'm assuming this is the point at which Joe makes fun of the way I talk when I'm all riled up.

Actor Aaron Christensen. Who should be charged in criminal court for shaving his inhumanly awesome beard.

That gets us caught up to the present. John is back in Oshkosh and we have resumed our weekly meeting schedule. The big thing this week is to handle revisions to the DVD artwork design John initiated. I myself am about to sit down and begin transcribing the entire film so it can be translated to Spanish and French so we have subtitles alongside standard ol' English. The actual film dialogue changed so much on the fly during filming that the script's written words on paper, although still accurate to our story, differs frequently from the actual spoken words in the film. John will continue conducting interviews and logging footage to begin editing the feature. Nearly all of the other bonus features are complete or near-complete. This double DVD will be no skimpy package, people will get their money's worth!

So there we have it. My caffeine is wearing off and I have hours of transcription work to do before the night is over. Time to throw a fresh kettle on the stove and put the nose to the grindstone. Dearest friends, fans, followers, and family. Thank you for taking this trip with us, regardless of the point at which you joined. This phase is almost over and we're gladly moving on to the next. Dead Weight, the deluxe 2xDVD package, coming April 2012. Public premiere announcement coming soon.

The Dead Weight 2xDVD cover.

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