Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Zombies suck - but only when you're filming them.

This is a story from the set of my latest film (filmed nearly two years ago, but still unfinished - damn daily real life) with an amateur cast, an incredible makeup artist, an incredible effects artist, and a primadonna Director of Photography (DP is the term used, for the uninitiated) who felt that shooting an amateur, indie horror film was beneath him. The film is about the early stages of a zombie invasion of Baltimore.

The film is called Zombie Death, and was originally planned as a twenty minute horror/comedy short film to set the stage for future feature length films. The shooting schedule was set for two weekends of night-shoots (but principle photography was completed in one Fri-Sat weekend, shooting hours of 9pm to 5am, with a call at 4pm to start makeup, shot setup, and rehearsals).

The time: Saturday night, second night of shooting, about 3:00am. The scenario: The DP, one Russell Nohelty (I have no issues with using his full name here, as he is the *worst* DP I've ever seen, and I'll never use him again) is changing the shooting schedule unbeknownst to me, as the director, because certain makeup effects aren't ready.

Russell is bitching that not everyone is in makeup and the effects aren't ready for the dance scene, regardless of the fact that I took that delay into account with the shooting schedule. Upstairs in the makeup room, Rio and V are working their asses off trying to get the final details in for makeup (and are actually somewhat ahead of schedule) - and they're doing a GREAT job (Rio is co-producer and lead makeup artist - and incredibly talented; V is her assistant, and almost equally as talented). Joey (the other co-producer, score composer, and special effects guru - yes, he is one talented motherfucker), is in the kitchen brewing up some of the best blood-packs and manual (read - actor triggered) squibs ever known to man. He's within ten minutes of completing a massive amount of blood-packs/squibs. Between makeup and effects, there was about three gallons of fake blood going into the shoot that night.

Russell is getting his panties in a bunch, swearing that I've hired the most incompetent makeup and effects people (ignoring the fact that Rio and Joey have been with me since the start - they joined the crew about two days after I had the script finished; a year before shooting started, and have their jobs quite well thought out in advance). He starts up in a primadonna tantrum in my living room (which doubled as the interior set, just a few feet away from the exterior set), screaming at me. Fuck that shit. I'm screaming back in defense of my well-trusted make-up and FX artists. Rio hears all of this from upstairs, and makes it downstairs before Joey can even respond from the kitchen (Joey has always been much like me - a pacifist - who will roll with the punches and just get the job done).

I nearly had to break up a fight between Rio and Russell. Rio, to this day, is still pissed over what Russell screamed at her. I don't remember the details, but it was unfriendly, to put it nicely. If it wasn't for the fact that so much money had already been spent on makeup and effects for that night, I would have likely fired Russell on the spot. Being a zero-budget film that was already a year behind schedule, I was in a bind. I kept Russell on, only because the fucker was there. We finished out shooting for that night.

I will say that all shooting that occurred after that, regardless of my direction, completely sucked donkey balls. Russell's incompetence is the reason that the original thought of "Zombie Death" has now been changed into a feature length film about "How Not To Make A Movie".

As for the cast that night - absolute perfection. They did everything that was rehearsed. They created absolute magic. It's too bad that I hired a former PBS cameraman that had toyed with the idea of getting into film, and had never wanted to do gross horror films. Russell's lack of professionalism destroyed the film, and has resulted in a sub-par (even to my low standards) film, that couldn't be released in even the most indie/low budget circles as anything more than a piece of shit.

Russell Nohelty is the sole reason for my change of thought about the destination for the film, which will now be released as "How Not To Make A Movie".

Russell Nohelty is a DP that will fucking destroy your film. If you're an indie looking to shoot a film, DO NOT HIRE THIS MAN!

Russell Nohelty is the sole reason that Zombie Death has not been released yet.

1 comment:

Russell said...

I would very much appreciate if you could remove my name from this blog post.

This post is from almost three years ago and it still comes up as the second result when searching my name.

You should feel vindicated because I haven't DPed or even operated camera on a project in years.

I am very sorry for the slight for which I have caused you and wish you luck in your future projects.