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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Where have the past two months gone?! Feels like we've just been blasting updates and announcements lately, and it's been forever since we did an actual recap of what's gone down. Well, all that is about to change. Hold onto your butts, because we're going for a ride! Actually, no ride is in the agenda, rather just a bunch of words and some pictures, but you get the idea.

Carrying an Other kind of Dead Weight at HorrorHound.
Let's start in the beginning of September. Adam and I headed to the state known as HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis. Okay, I know, that's not even a state. Give me a break here, I'm trying to make this entertaining. Anywho, we met up with actor Aaron Christensen and producer Dan Kiggins, and tons of other friends as well, to not only promote, but to screen the film Friday night (as part of Elvira's Horror Hunt). Well over eighty unknown faces packed into the screening room, and believe it or not, Adam actually watched it all! I say that because, well, let's face it, we've seen Dead Weight quite a few times now, and we're just a tad familiar with it. The last time I've watched the film in it's entirety is when we recorded the commentary back in January or February, and I'm pretty sure it's the same for Adam. However, the extreme positivity of the weekend, the glorious HD projection, and this incredibly massive thunderstorm made that a very special screening. 

Stangaar has a new buddy, the Best Editing award.
I've been attending cons for over eight years now, and that was easily one of, if not, the most memorable. Aside from introducing a whole bunch of new people to DW and seeing some of my favorite people, we made some fabulous new friends (not to single anyone out, but I'm looking at you, Alyssa and Kyle), sat down for a few interviews, and bonded ridiculously well with some of the other filmmakers who were screening. We were in some terrific company, so many great films made by some fantastic human beings. Some, such as Danny DelPurgatorio (Other) and our Wisconsin horror brethren, Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield (Teddy), we already knew and were pleased as hell to share the screen with. We quickly formed lasting relationships with two others. Jerry Pyle was there representing his disturbing short, Burn, and from across the big pond was my new favorite Frenchman, Lucas Masson, there for stateside support of Baby-Sitting. To better understand, let's just say that we were inseparable all weekend. Toss in Jill Sixx, hulahoops, oodles of pizza, a podcast or two, and even more laughs (as well as TONS of other great moments I'm not listing to save space and time), and you have a truly unforgettable weekend. Oh, not to mention that we won Best Editing during Elvira's Horror Hunt. Yay!!!

Nick was told to "be a turd." He succeeded.
Skip ahead a few weeks to the end of September, and bring on the Milwaukee Film Festival and CryptiCon Minneapolis Death Trip 2012! It twas a Thursday evening, September 27th to be exact, Adam and I grab our mutual date, composer Nick Elert, and venture to the MFF Opening Night Party at Discovery World. Note to photographers willing to take photos of us: You will get annoyed with us. We made the most (that's one way of putting it) of the three official photo areas (one of which included a spider from Bill Rebane's Giant Spider Invasion) all throughout the evening, being sure to make total idiots of ourselves. Aside from that, I made it two feet into the aquarium before freaking out (not even kidding, stupid fear of water), so while Adam and Nick proceeded into an underwater world, I munched on tons of free popcorn, and eventually tore up the dancefloor with many of the MFF staff. I should specify, I am, by no means, an unbelievable dancer. I just have no shame, and danced enough like a moron that I actually split my boxers. So in reality, I did not "tear up the dancefloor," rather just my underoos.

No great night is complete without a delicious late night burrito run, and you better believe that happened. 

When the morning sun rose on Friday, the three of us headed west on I-94, Minneapolis bound for the screening at CryptiCon. Along the way we listened to a fair amount of soundtracks (including Batman Forever, barf!), stopped so Adam and Nick could indulge their sweetteeth (pies at the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI), and enjoyed the scenery of the Wisconsin fall. Entering the con, we met up with executive producers, Dan and Mel Lowin, and our good friends (from WI), Andy and Mel. Commence awesome hanging out times, and a small, yet really positive screening. Afterwords, we popped by the cabana hotel rooms, also known as the party area, where one the greatest things I've ever witnessed took place. Just as we're about to leave, a semi-drunk dude stops Nick, as he feels like he recognizes him. After a question or two, the dude puts it together, throws his beer down and screams, "You're the dickhouse guy!" then proceeds to wrangle up his buddies who all begin celebrating Nick's presence. Of course, they were referring to the experience Nick had when our van broke-down back in December of 2011. After some celebrity-like photos and begging Nick to quote the video, we said our goodbyes, stopped for some tasty late night eats (aka, another burrito for me), then headed over to the Adam Tucker's for the night (who mixed and mastered the film's audio), where we did what we do best: nerded out over movies, comics, books, music, and video games into the wee hours of the night. After a few hours of rest, it was time to pop by Tucker's Signaturetone Recording so Adam could check it out. Our goal was to make our way back to Milwaukee around 10am, and as luck would have it, El Ranchero (located next door to Signaturetone) just so happens to open at 10am. This meant I could get a burrito for the road (because nothing is better than a burrito at 10am, and yes, I'm serious). I kid you not, friends, I've had burritos from all over the country, and El Ranchero on Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis is one of the best I've had. When Nick and I were up to sit in on the audio mix and master in December, I ate there daily. Enough about burritos, let's jet back to Milwaukee for the MFF!

Together again, and not for the last time.
Not only was the MFF one of our largest festival screenings (260 people), but it was at the gorgeous Oriental Theatre, a place I never stepped foot in until that night. What a remarkable place. Even with the big turnout in the lovely theatre, hands down the best part of the night was having a ton of the family back together. While not everyone was present, we had a good twenty-five of us, and it felt so good to see everyone again. Even if it's been months, in some cases a year, since we've seen each other, nothing changed. Excitement and love filled the air, as well as tons and tons of hugs. Nothing made me more proud than having our group photos taken on the red carpet, and have an additional photographer run up to take photos, saying "I was told this group was going to be wild." Make no mistake about it, we are one huge family that has a blast every time we are together.

After a brief introduction to the film, Adam, Nick and myself popped across the street (remember, we no watch the film) for an interview with Andy from Bloody Good Horror. Much to no surprise, we rambled long enough to occupy the entire runtime of the film, so we had to cut it short to make it back in time for a Q&A. What happened next was a superb evening of laughs, singings, hugs, reminiscing, and of course, burritos. Ending the weekend in the company of the family was the best possible way, although it was hard to say goodbye to everyone. Wish there was a way for us to spend more time together. However, I definitely cherish every moment we have as a group.

Can't go any further without thanking Angela, Blyth, and the entire MFF crew (including volunteers). You showed us one gnarly time. Yes, I said "gnarly."

Adam and Stangaar at Dairywood!
Jumping into October, we were asked by UWO's Film Society to not only come in and talk during their meeting (an explosion of wordage for sixty minutes straight), but they held a special screening on campus. Both events were a total hoot, and we managed to engage in a two and a half hour Q&A/discussion after the screening with the students. Much like normal, we gave our "we love Wisconsin and will continue to make films here" schpeel, talked about loving The Thing, Kurt Russell, and The X-Files, and how we only fought twice in the three years we've been working on Dead Weight. To round out our experience with UWO, Adam and I were guests on TitanTV's Dairywood, a show all about Wisconsin filmmaking. Stangaar joined us on the set, and even had some screen time. That little buster sure makes the rounds. Many thanks to Kyle, Samantha, Brian, Deniz, and everyone else involved with Film Society and Dairywood!

Alright, take a deep breath. We're about halfway done. 

There, feeling rested? Let us continue.

Dead Weight Triple Threat Part One: During the last weekend of October, Dead Weight screened in three different states at three different festivals over the course of two days. We had our Florida premiere in Orlando at the Freak Show Film Festival (part of Spooky Empire) on Friday, October 26th. Saturday afternoon brought our Louisiana premiere as part of the New Orleans Horror Film Festival. We were honored to discover that we received a nomination for Best Feature, and Joe was nominated for Best Actor. It wasn't until this weekend it came to our attention Joe was up against Lance Henriksen! I mean, we're talking Bishop, Ed Harley, and Frank Black (just to name a few)! Not so bad for someone who's never acted before, huh? So immensely proud of Joe. 

Last but not least, was the closer to home (aka, affordable to travel to) Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa City. While the screening was Saturday night, Nick and I decided to make a weekend out of it. We popped off in Moline, IL on the way Friday night, to hang out with Joe Zerull (director of the super awesome A Cadaver Christmas). The evening consisted of pizza, jalapeno beer (which, by the way, is REALLY good), and I Didn't Come Here To Die (written/directed by Wisconsinite Bradley Sullivan). As the evening grew late, Nick and I said our farewells (even though Joe would join us the next day) to make it to Iowa City, not without stopping at the world's largest truck stop first. 

Green Carpet shenanigans.
Saturday morning, we attended a filmmaker's breakfast, met some good people, then hit the town for comic books and records. Once the theater's doors opened, we checked in, got our passes (free t-shirts too!) and bopped around until we sat down for a tasty lunch. Guess what I had. A burrito? Survey says… YES! With our stomachs full, it was time to check out some short films. As our screening time approached, we were joined by Joe Cadaver (that's his new name, by the way) and Kansas City's very own, Jill Sixx. Nick and I fielded a Q&A after the screening, and ended the night by attending the after party, which will probably go down as the swankiest party I'll be allowed in. Without fail, Joe and I managed to have serious Kurt Russell talks with multiple people (our friendship actually blossomed due to a mutual love for Kurt). I also proceeded to eat my weight in veggies and (three different kinds of) hummus, and low and behold, our group was the last to leave the party. No surprise there, that's just how we do it. Mega kudos to Mary, Stacie, and everyone at LFF, we had one hell of a fun time at the fest and in your city.

Dead Weight Triple Threat Part Two: The following weekend (this past one) marked another three-screening-whirlwind. Adam and I made our way to the Central Wisconsin FIlm Festival in Amherst, WI. Prior to the screening, we met the director of the fest, Jennifer, and her husband, Brad, at the Central Waters Brewing Co., where we were greeted not only with a freshly poured pint, but a six pack for each of us. Again, after the screening was a Q&A which was blast, it's always so great to be able to talk about the film with people. When the night came to an end, we devoured an entire bag of Garden Salsa Sun Chips on the way home, probably within twenty minutes. Damn, those little boogers are tasty!

UPDATE (11/9/12): Just received word that we received the Juror Award for Best Film at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival! Huzzah, indeed!

We screened at the Drunken Zombie Film Festival in Peoria, IL on Saturday, but weren't able to attend. From our friends told us (Slasher Studios and Jabb Pictures), the fest was a blast, wish we could have been there.

In lieu of heading to Drunken Zombie, colorist Derrick Carey and I cruised to the state's capitol Saturday morning for the Madison Horror Film Festival. Our screening was Sunday evening, but aside from getting to hang out with friends, we actually got to watch films all day. I finally got to see found., which screened with us at Elvira's Horror Hunt. Director Scott Schirmer and the cast and crew have created one hell of a dramatic, emotional, and jarring film, do what you can to see it! The evening ended with Maniac Cop (Tom Atkins, I love you), and a one-two punch of Wisconsin sleaze, IDS Rising and Swamphead. My buddy Glenn and I checked into a hotel at 2am for a few hours rest, and much to my surprise/delight, we randomly got the keys to room 237. Commence The Shining geek out. This marked a first for me. For years I've wanted to stay in a room 237, even requested it, and it never happened. There was no deceased naked, older woman in the bathtub. Sigh…

When Sunday rolled around, it was back to the theater for a whole days worth of films before the screening. Around mid-afternoon, I was joined by not only Adam and company, but by our good buddy, Danny from Other, which was screening immediately prior to us. I'll tell you, that Danny guy is good people, and Other is incredible, we're always honored to share the screen with him. During our screening, we were off to dinner (no burrito this time), but made sure to return in time for the awards ceremony. Earlier in the week it was announced we received nominations in four categories: Best Feature, Director, Writer, and Cinematography. We were truly honored, especially being nominated amongst our friends and their great films (Other and found.). The weekend proved to be a strong one for all three of us, as Other took home Best Short, found. received Best Director and Best Special Effects, and we're beyond thrilled to receive Best Feature, Writer, and Cinematography. We couldn't have achieved these awards without the wonderful and amazing cast and crew of Dead Weight, and we proudly accepted them on their behalf. Congrats to you all (especially Travis, our DP, who worked unbelievably hard), as well as Danny, Scott, and their respective cast and crews. 

Well, there you have it. The last two months in more words than you probably wanted to read. Are you surprised, though? You had've known it was going to get really wordy. In my defense, a lot of amazing stuff happened in two months. So give me a break, huh?

We have one more festival this Friday, the Weyauwega International Film Festival (November 9th at 7pm), which is the last one for 2012. We'll be hitting the fests some more in 2013, but this winter will be spent bringing greater things for Dead Weight, as well as writing. More on both as the time comes. In closing, if you're reading this and had part in any of the shenanigans listed, thank you. Endlessly. Our run with Dead Weight has been incredible thus far, and I'm incredibly thankful and humbled. 

Over and out. 


  1. With all this success, I think you need to get your own banner.

  2. Wish I could've made it to a few of those fests. 2 in one weekend took it out of me. Congratulations again on all of the awards! You guys really put a lot into it and it shows. Keep on DOING IT, DOUG!!!!