Monthly Archives: November 2012

Crash Analysis: EXCISION (2012)

See it – NOW!

The disintegration of a troubled teenager

First time writer/director Richard Bates Jr. must have impressed some quality people and their hefty wallets with his short film, Excision back in 2008. Not only does he bring a full-blown production to the screen because of his creative effort, but the cast includes the likes of Traci Lords, Roger Bart, AnnaLynne McCourt, Ariel Winter, “Twin Peaks” alum Ray Wise, and Malcolm McDowell, as a high school teacher, no less – and John Waters as a deadpan minister. Wow.

Okay, that’s all hype. We’ve seen movies bottom out regardless of the phenomenal cast because story is king (or queen), and without a great tale to tell, the rest doesn’t matter (add your James Cameron movie of choice here), because style only trumps substance in the minds of fools who hold special effects or seemingly cool characters without depth over a vibrant yarn. With story as foundation, the actors that inhabit films through their characters can better enhance the narrative, and remarkable special effects will help sell the story as well. Excision has all of these elements in place, and then some.

If you love the “quirky” comedic horror, such as Canada’s Ginger Snaps (2000) and Lucky McKee’s amazing May (2002), you should find Bates’s tale more than satisfying. The story revolves around the enigmatic troubled teen, Pauline, brilliantly portrayed by McCourt, and her dysfunctional family: passive-aggressive and not-all-there dad (Bart), her younger cystic fibrosis plagued sister Grace (Winter), and the matriarch in control, a demanding mother who cherishes Grace among all things (Lords – who will amaze). With Pauline, we can make comparisons to her adult counterpart in the film May, where she doesn’t fit in among the masses. However, where May wants to belong to the world at large, Pauline has other pursuits in mind. What these are can only come from indulging in the film where she has discussions with God while performing rebellious deeds with one thematic prize in mind. Theme is the crux of the tale, which is full of Pauline’s horrific, bloodlust laden fantasies, and her penchant for setting everyone on edge whether at home or in school. Although one would think she’d despise her ill sister, there is a sort of camaraderie there, much like Ginger and Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. Right from the beginning, however, with all its quirkiness and black comedy, we know all too well that something really awful is coming, and Bates does not disappoint thanks to a sub-layer of tension that permeates the movie. Even better, thanks to excellent writing, loaded with exemplary dialogue, we are delivered a full blown upper cut in thematic subtlety (yes, I know that’s a contradiction), that seems to become lost on many viewers who simply despise the movie – see my point about those choosing style over substance.

But the film does have style, and lots of it. Itay Gross, who was the cinematographer for the original short, brought his skills to the feature. Relying on solid lighting to enhance every detail, he did so without creating a perfectly sterile environment, and kept us off-kilter with often straight on wide shots that deceptively mimicked a “wonderful world” of sunshine and warm colors. In the dream sequences, he amped up the lighting to create a heavenly glow in contrast to the blood and carnage, which mirrored the conflict in Pauline’s ravaged mind, leaving us in a beautiful domain with sumptuous people drenched in muck and gore. Yet, when Pauline talks to God, the camera shines down on her in the dark, revealing only her white face and folded hands as she peers upward, which is in direct opposition to her visions of fashionable blood and butchery. Once again, the disconnect in Pauline’s mind is made clear through exceptional imagery. Pauline peers up from the darkness because she sees her life as Hell, an abyss, while the blood-soaked images of beautiful and alluring people are set against a clean, white, virginal world. Gross’s achievement further enhanced Armen Ra’s production design, which again mislead us with seemingly generic venues both innocuous and comfortable, and as inviting as the gingerbread house in the old Hansel and Gretel story or a “Brady Bunch” episode. Then again, isn’t this why Bates deceived us with the comedy element? In this regard, he’s reminiscent of Tarantino who misdirects us with fun and games until someone is brutally killed (think of the opening “royale with cheese” scene in Pulp Fiction before the carnage), as if he had coaxed us into his realm with candy before bludgeoning us with a hammer. As for the rest of the behind-the-scenes crew, no one missed a beat and collectively delivered one extremely unsettling film.

It’s not hard for one to see that Pauline has much in common with Carol (Catherine Deneuve) from Polanski’s dramatic horror Repulsion (UK, 1965). Like May and Carol, Pauline is in crisis, though unlike the others, she knows it, and like the others, does her best to bend reality to her crazed will. All of these women are creators by nature, yet in order to right the perceived wrongs done to them, they become “the destructor” to bring about change and the inner growth they think will lead to solace, even at the highest of prices. One can easily make comparison to goddesses like Kali, who is both creator and destructor, but these women lack the wisdom of a deity due to the over-whelming pressure of their human frailties. Although we see May and Carol on their own, eighteen-year-old Pauline cannot escape the family unit. At least her mother, anyway, who lays down the law (or tries to) while Pauline fights back with wit and a bit of lunacy to maintain a sense of autonomy.

Don’t think this is some cliché-ridden tale with the typical family dynamics we’ve come to loathe from other movies, or the stock bullies one finds at Hollywood movie high schools. Bates constantly adds little touches to keep things askew, and delivers the best and worst of each character in subdued ways. Like Paul Solet’s completely under-appreciated Grace (2009), it’s hard to find “evil” in a character when they are simply doing what they think is right – only to have some major realizations come calling by film’s end.

Pauline’s journey is an intriguing and disturbing venture sure to connect with many, while others may not grasp the nuances of Bates’s artistry and guile. I certainly hope to indulge in more of Bates and his work – much sooner than later – for Excision is the best horror I’ve seen in quite some time. The film’s certainly worthy of a rental, though it should find a home in every horror fan’s personal collection. Did I mention John Waters as a minister?

4.5 out of 5 stars

Crash Reports: TOO MANY PREDATORS – Composer Announced

Sunday, November 25, 2012

When it comes to shooting any short movie, many filmmakers make the mistake of going with stock music for their creative venture. Why work so hard to create something new, different and engaging only to have that originality waylaid by something we’ve heard before? What’s worse, stock music cannot capture what is taking place on the screen. However, a true composer, after viewing the footage, can exploit the nuances and pace of the short with original music, while escalating the tension and highlighting the suspense.

For TOO MANY PREDATORS, I had asked Chris Messineo which composer he planned on working with for the film, and he replied, “I don’t know.” Normally, that would send me into panic mode, but Chris is a true professional I trust with abandon. When others say, “I don’t know”, that means, “I have no clue,” but when Chris says it, he means, “I haven’t made my final decision yet.” Clearly, Chris had several artists to choose from, and I couldn’t wait to hear about his final choice. Today, he announced to the crew and me that rising composer Justin R. Durban will complete the score. I’m excited as hell.

Durban has over one hundred projects to his credit, and does most of his work for the production music company X-Ray Dog (http://www.x-raydogmusic.com/). You can also visit his personal site here: http://www.justindurban.com/epic/music/. To date, most of Durban’s original work has been heard in many a movie trailer, as well as short films and features, including POWERLESS (2004), STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN (2005), and the upcoming THREADS OF DESTINY (2013).

Born in Memphis and raised in Kentucky, Durban brings an open-minded approach to music that ultimately produces the perfect sound to capture any moment on film. Relying on an eclectic mix of musical genres helps him tell the movie’s story in a unique way. For instance, when listening to much of Durban’s creative work, I often hear Goth/Industrial juxtaposed with classic music, which blossoms into vibrant, resounding melodies while incorporating heavy thrusts of suspense and power. Durban’s inventiveness is completely engaging and enthralling, and I could listen to his riveting compositions for hours. However, do not think Durban is locked into any one style. As any great artist, he lets his inspiration and passion guide him, and like a screenwriter, I have no doubt he relies upon his subconscious to often lead the way.

As the crew brought TOO MANY PREDATORS to light in ways I never imagined through varied camera angles and lighting, as did our exceptional actresses with their unique and seamless interpretations of character, Durban will no doubt do the same.

Quite often, screenwriters fear what will happen to their script once the collaborative effort goes into full swing. Yet I’m glad I’ve taken a backseat to let “nature take its course,” if you will. By allowing crew, cast and composer to bring their own creativity and vision to the tale, the story has been enhanced in tremendous ways. And in but a few short weeks, I’ll have a chance to see and hear how TOO MANY PREDATORS plays out.

I have no doubt I’ll be amazed, and I hope you will be as well.

Crash Analysis: THE FIELDS (2011)

So much atmosphere, so little substance The Fields

A boy tries to survive a hippy freak out – of sorts

School teacher Harrison Smith told the true version of this story to his class and they said it should be a movie. So he wrote the script and sold it to Expressway Productions and Breaking Glass Pictures in Philadelphia. Apparently, directors Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. What they did with the screenplay is another matter.

Staring Cloris Leachman of 70’s comedy fame, the veteran actress delivers as Glady’s, the sharp talking grandmother with a gentle heart, and this is one of her greatest performances – no, I’m not kidding. Her counterpart, Bev Appleton (Hiney) plays her moderately curmudgeon of a husband, and does so with abandon. Even little Joshua Ormond as star Steven, does a darn good job. Finally, Louis Morabito (Eugene) plays the creepy young man that will have you constantly looking over your shoulder. Yes, there are others that round out the cast, but most fail to shine. Faust Checho, as Steven’s father, is far too stiff and Tara Reid, who barely appears in the movie, phone’s it in – from long distance. Why Diane Heery and Jason Loftus casted Reid and Checho is beyond logic. Yes, they wanted a name in Reid, but she failed to deliver by any means. In fact, one gets the notion that she just wanted to collect her paycheck and get the hell out of there – and she got top billing.

In this tale, Ormond plays the role of eight-year-old Steven (Harrison Smith), and serves as the witness for all things bizarre in 1973 eastern Pennsylvania. During the fallout from the Manson trial, hippies are viewed with a truly skeptical eye before they wither out as a counter-culture, and the slumming group of hippies taking refuge in an abandoned amusement park beyond Glady’s and Hiney’s cornfield, seem to be feared as much as despised by the locals. Steven lives temporarily with his odd grandparents while his estranged parents try to determine their next move as a couple. In the meantime, Steven lets his imagination run wild with thoughts of Godzilla and Wacky Packages. This means, when he finds something horrendous beyond the cornfield, no one comes close to believing him (how cliché). Yet, as the tension mounts and mayhem comes closer to the family farm, the grandparents find truth in his tales.

Though some seem to love the subtlety and slow pace, others are quick to condemn. Regardless, most agree that Harrison Smith’s true life story is far weaker than what the script offers. So where did the filmmakers go wrong?

It certainly wasn’t with Daniel Watchulonis’s cinematography. He nailed ever shot and presented a fabulous picture in both composition as well as color. Besides Leachman and Appleton, Watchulonis is one of the main reasons this movie worked. His lighting touches are brilliant, and it’s clear he can rival anything Hollywood has to offer.

The main problem was the story itself. Granted, there was tension, but it was often short-lived or not strong enough. Even the climactic end seems half-baked, letting the audience off too quickly because the filmmakers and screenwriter didn’t go that extra step. And I’m not talking about gore or violence, we just needed to know the characters were in true danger – and not being poked at from a distance with a dull stick. At one point, we have the sensation that there is a sort of homage to Sam Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS (1971), but the wave of suspense tends to be a ripple instead of a tsunami.

Strangely enough, the filmmakers shot scenes at the old Bushkill Park in Easton, just a few miles from my home. I even pass by the location of Smith’s grandparent’s actual farmhouse when I rush out for eggs and yogurt. Again, Watchulonis captured the unnerving essence of the abandoned establishment, and it’s a shame Mattera and Mazzoni couldn’t capitalize on his mesmerizing work.

Regardless of its shortcomings, this is an excellent example of how wonderful a low budget film can look, and may prove a vital tool for all young and first-time filmmakers – just make sure you have the right actors in place and a story that delivers. Otherwise, as a low budget dream collaboration, I hope for director Lance Weiler, THE LAST BROADCAST (1997) and HEAD TRAUMA (2006), to work together in the future.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Horror Diary: TOO MANY PREDATORS – The Shoot

Shoot day…

I arrived at the New Jersey Film School a little after ten in the morning.

This was it.

All the rewrites, planning, and casting would come down to the next ten hours to create a four minute short worthy enough to submit to festivals, and to use as a calling card, and to show off with pride.

I sighed. Not because I didn’t trust Chris Messineo, his student crew, the actresses and the special effects makeup artist, I just wanted to get to the finish line. When writing, I can work at my own frenetic pace, or I can meet someone else’s deadline with relative ease. But filmmaking is a different animal. Collaboration, out of necessity due to specialty, meant mistakes could happen and delays could loom large. Plus, I know that every time I watch a movie, even a piece of garbage, I am witnessing a miracle. To make a movie takes time, money, and the passion and commitment of many people – sometimes hundreds. And that’s why I really sighed, because I knew we were all going to pull off a small miracle of our own – and that was one amazing feeling.

Chris and company were already there, and after some quick hellos we got to work on building the set.

Soon after, Paul J. Mason, the special effects make-up artist, came on set. Built like a tight-end, and all in black with a long white ponytail trailing behind him, the man was kind and as patient as a sage. You can find his work in such horrors as THE ASCENSION (2011), PLAGUE TOWN (2008) and THE SICKNESS (2008), as well as in the original “The Walking Dead” trailer. Additionally, his renowned prosthetics work appears in “30 Rock”, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and the comedy BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN (2009). Paul established his station outside the set, played music, and painted Shannon Kelly to the point where she looked like she had been dragged behind my car, while Ella West took on the appearance of a surreal creature we’d ultimately hate to face in a dark alley.

Shannon is something special. During auditions, she read the part of Marissa as if we had discussed the character well in advance. As she continued to read, Shannon embraced the role to the point where she had lost herself. Ella did the same for Claudia, bringing a level of confidence I had hoped for to the character, as well as a sultry element that sold the role in ways I had not imagined. Her voice alone is enough to bring chills to demon and angel alike. We also knew from auditions that both actresses would be a pleasure to work with, which they proved the moment they entered the building. They both got right into character and created an excellent chemistry on film that only enhanced the story. Fervent professionals and models of proficiency, they moved forward, hour after hour, compressing full blown energy into their roles even some eights hours into shooting. As for all those hours of makeup, they sat like statues. If they were tired, they never showed it. Yes, they had told me they had fun, as we all did, but their spirit and drive helped keep the rest of us going from the tumult and emotion they brought to their characters right to the very end.

While the actresses seemed happy and comfortable, we were all on our toes and the yawns we sometimes squelched may have been from stress. Not wanting to “screw up” can be such a driving force. Ella and Shannon were so damn exceptional, and Paul’s artistry so brilliant, we all wanted to deliver on the promise of creating a quality based short. Then again, Chris and crewmembers would come up and ask me if I liked how things were going. Of course I did. Chris Messineo had brought together an excellent crew of young professionals who all wanted to shine. Rolando’s lighting and camera assistance was spot-on, script supervisor Keisha paid attention to detail for continuities sake, Kelly played assistant director with a calm subtlety, demure Ganesh worked sound like a stealthy ninja, and Randy hauled the camera about with a keen eye. Additionally, Mark weaved himself in an around the production for his behind the scenes reel like a secret operative. I did my best to capture candids, along with the atmosphere that enveloped the story – as well as a few fun stills.

At one point, we were a bit over two-hours behind our shooting schedule, but delays are inevitable for one reason or another. Chris and company made up the time with crafty schedule changes or the obliteration of particular shots deemed superfluous. Again, thanks to the diligent and perfectionist work of Ella, Shannon and Paul, we made up the time in short order.

But what of director Bill Shimp? I had told my girlfriend that he must be a chess player because of the way he thinks about every move – and he is a chess player, though he admitted that he takes too long when it comes to competitive play. No problem. He can be your next master detective to solve even the most seemingly perfect crime. Bill worked with actresses and crew in the most unobtrusive manner, clearly respecting their skills, abilities and knowledge. Thanks to his calm demeanor, everyone worked together like the well-oiled machine you hear about but never see. Bill, ever the humble and thoughtful man, came up to me and said, “So, what do you think of your movie?” My response was simple: “It’s our movie now,” meaning every participant, and Bill’s smile confirmed the almost egalitarian essence of the project. As for the movie, I loved what I saw on the monitor with every take.

Trivia: The biggest problem of the day? Blood. Theatrical blood that continued to drip like a perpetual flow of red magma. And if that was our biggest dilemma, we were surely blessed.

We wrapped at 10:30 PM. Then we broke down the set and broke for home.

I had an hour’s drive, but knew I could travel for days due to the adrenaline that kept on pumping. After all, that miracle of a movie was finally coming together. Once editing is complete, along with the addition of music, color and sound effects, we hope to have something solid to send out to festivals. And I certainly hope others will feel proud enough to use this as their calling card for other ventures.

As I finished my shower and hit the sheets, I was grateful for the experience, and certainly hoped to work with that crew in the future.

We’ll see where this little miracle takes us…

Crash Analysis: TALISMAN (1998)

Uh… Er… Uh… Talisman

A teen enters a bizarro school for mispent rich youth and all Hell breaks loose.

Benjamin Carr, who has written a lot of schlocky and pathetic horror, including RETRO PUPPET MASTER (1999), THIR13EN GHOSTS (2001) and HELLRAISER: DEADER (2005), brings us another half-baked script that in the end, makes very little sense.

Elias Storm (Billy Parish) voluntarily enters a school for teen boys who are either rich, troublesome or both. And this creepy stone mansion of an institution is located somewhere in the backwoods of Romania. Oddly enough, the school only has seven boys on the classlist, one theology teacher (Claudiu Trandafir), an East German throwback of a school mistress (Oana Stefanescu), and her beautiful yet freaky daugther (Ilinca Goia). Serving as audience advocate for all things about this strange scholastic enterprise is Jake Fine (Walter Jones).

The story, as best one can determine, involves a talisman that can conjure the Black Angel (Constantin Barbalescu) who will rip your heart out in order to bring Hell to Earth – for the millennium, of course. But hero boy Elias is out to save the day…

Okay, we’ve seen stories like this one too many times, and even though cliché after cliché is exploited in this feature, the story steers clear of a linear track of complacency for a convoluted head scratcher that makes little sense in the end. The story never gels and is far from satisfying, especially since Elias never gets the chance to smackdown prettyboy rival Burke (Jasaon Adelman).

Although the set has much Gothic visual appeal, the tale’s awkwardness, and some cheesy special effects, prove too distracting to keep us invested. However, the burning question of “What the hell is going on?” will most likely keep you planted on your couch until the credits role when you’ll realize how you wasted 72 minutes by watching something that didn’t pay off. Then again, that’s Carr’s modus operandi.

Directed by David DeCoteau, with 96 titles to his credit, including 1987’s CREEPAZOIDS and BIKINI GODDESSES (1996), he’s the American version of Takishi Miike – minus the talent. Then again, the acting wasn’t half bad, though Jones clearly stole the show, and I loved the lighting. However, as I was watching, I kept asking myself how I missed such an 80’s flick. Yes, it has that cheap, cartoonish look left to the best of the worst from that horror-infested decade. As for DeCoteau, I guess he wouldn’t know a good script if it bit him in the ass.

Regardless, as bad as Carr and DeCoteau are, they’re getting paid for churning out cheap garbage and we keep watching. Oh, well.

The 1.5 stars goes to Jones, and Parish and Goia for trying, and for the lighting guru that clearly took a page from Mario Bava. Yes, this could have been one cool little movie, but Carr took a decent idea and mangled it beyond recognition.

1.5 out of 5 stars

Horror Diary: Casting Night for TOO MANY PREDATORS

We’re all “actors”. We conjure smiles at board meetings, tell freaked out people not to worry when they should worry, and do our damnedest to prove to mothers that we’re too sick to go to school. But throw something unnatural in the mix – a camera – and people stiffen up. Hell, they can’t even walk or take a seat without looking like a robot.

Actors on the other hand, truly trained in the craft, are chameleons that can bring characters from the page to life on the screen.

This is why casting day is so vital.

When I arrived at the New Jersey Film School, I was given a seat to the right of Bill, the director, with Chris Messineo to his left. The table closest to Chris was comprised of Kelly (assistant director), Mark (behind the scenes filmographer) and Keisha (script supervisor, who is also responsible for continuity – more about that at a later time). To my right sat Randy (cinematographer), Rolando (camera) and Ganesh (sound). Collectively, we looked like some sort of tribunal ready to determine the fate of those before us. Then again, we were.

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, power had been knocked out of the area for a week, which meant Chris only had a mere seven days to let actresses know about casting for TOO MANY PREDATORS. This also meant that the 1,000 responses we had hoped for became 450. During that time, Chris dove in deep and cut the list to 24 hopefuls. The task, sadly, had become simpler thanks again to Sandy. New Jersey Transit had been shut down, which deprived New York based actresses from crossing over to the station just five minutes away. At first, I was disappointed, but there was nothing to complain about – especially with 100 dead, thousands of homes destroyed or damaged, and Breezy Point having been wiped off the face of the Earth. It was clear we’d find someone who may lack extensive television and film experience, but who could use the short to help them get to such venues – and that was promising, as well as exciting.

I had casted for the short film STABLE with writer/director Paul Williams. (See the link to your right under “Crash Files”.) In that instance, we had to cast two men for the main roles. During casting, I had hoped to be wowed to the point where my heart skipped a beat, and we had found that early on in Jeffrey A. Wisniewski, who had rocked us. Later, Joseph DiMartino, a retired New York City firefighter who had braved the hell of 9/11, made our other choice clear. That day, we had seen some forty men. All of them had other jobs, and most of them had been trying to “make it” in the business for some time. Each credit, even with a small film, could help prove their value as an actor. As cruel as it sounds, actors are a dime a dozen. So are painters, sculptors, dancers, etc. – and writers like me. This is the state of the arts, and anyone in the game knows it. But if you know thyself and have the passion, you’ll continue to do what you love and press on.

Each audition is an interview. And every actor knows how painful it can be running all over the place in the hopes of landing a job for that all important credit (one actress had driven two hours just to get to our audition). This is why I hate the process. Sure, I want to find the right people for the respective parts, but to do so, people have to be told that they didn’t make the grade. This doesn’t mean they are bad actors, or that they aren’t beautiful enough – it simply means that today just wasn’t their day.

At 6:30 PM, we began. The first two actresses took their seats, were given one of the two characters, and read. Then, after a short break, they switched roles. We’d thank them, they’d leave to the lounge, then we’d bring in the next two. Afterwards, we called every actress back to read again, this time with direction, to see what she could bring to the characters. Each actress read at least three times, and some as many as six.

When an actress/actor comes into a room, I could care less about looks. Yes, that sounds nuts, considering they’ve handed in headshots with resumes, but a photographer’s camera can lie, and sometimes the shots do not bring out the beauty or depth of the performer. Instead, I rely on what I’ve seen in the business world and from years of teaching: body language. Are they confident? If so, this will shine through in their performance. Those who are nervous or ill-prepared seem to hold themselves back. Plus, the way they move dictates comfort level and how they’ll usually handle themselves all the time.

Right from the beginning, however, one actress caught my attention, and I immediately checked her off for the character of Marissa. This particular woman breathed in the character completely and exhaled her with some intense and very convincing emotion.

Although I’m the screenwriter and producer, I’m not making the decision alone. There is a director after all, and this is a class project. I was only there at the kind invitation of Chris, and since the school is his livelihood, he’d have the final say. Oh, and because he runs a production company, has received several awards for the films he’s directed and – you get the idea. Still, my gut said that this actress was Marissa. And although Randy, Rolando and Ganesh agreed, Chris and Bill felt she was better suited for the other character of Claudia. This was another reason for more auditions where the actress was allowed to read again. We wanted to make sure we were right. In short order, the nine of us had given the actress the nod for Marissa – and this is where I had made a mistake…

As actresses came and went, Bill took copious amounts of notes of their performances. He isn’t just the director, but a dedicated student. From speaking with him, two things are clear: Bill’s humble, and he doesn’t want to screw up the film. Knowing he’s conscientious is a relief. This doesn’t mean decisions and production will be delayed, but he pays attention to detail and other people’s input. He’s an active listener, and it’s clear he respects everyone around him. Now that’s a leader.

So stupid me, the realist, tells him that another actress could come along, read Marissa as well, and leave us in a tough spot to make a decision. That’s exactly what happened. When Bill turned to me after that other actress had left for a moment, it seemed as if someone had stolen his puppy. “Why did you have to say anything?” I had jinxed the casting! What the hell to do? The original actress was long gone, but we had taped every read, which meant if it came down to indecisiveness on our part, we could review and vote. But Chris jumped in and pointed out why our original choice worked best. It came down to the tired phrase of “splitting hairs”, but I saw this happen many times when hiring people, so the harsh reality was clearly understood.

But we had a problem: No one had nailed down the complexity of Claudia.

Finally, near the end, an actress sat down and delivered. As Jeff had done with STABLE, my heart skipped a beat and I swooned. Without direction, this one actress completely owned Claudia, handling the nuances and rhythm of the character with aplomb. Her performance as Claudia left me breathless, where the other actress’s performance as Marissa had left me appropriately on edge.

Whew.

Now, after four hours of casting, we have our two actresses (names and information forthcoming), a complete crew (more on them soon), a location, and a script – and a phenomenal, well-crafted storyboard thanks to Randy and his superior drawing skills. The only thing we need now to make it all work is cardboard boxes. Lots of boxes. I hope I can dig some out of the dumpster at my local supermarket because I’ve come up empty.

The shooting of TOO MANY PREDATORS will take place this coming Sunday…