so i made a movie, part six

I’m, like, totally in “post-production” on Ludlow. Since I went way overboard with the info sharing regarding the shoot, I figured, you know, why not indulge myself and share way too much info during the entire process of putting this movie together? It’s what The Internet is for. Well, it’s for sharing too much information and it’s for LOLcats.

So, WARNING: this is all about me and my big ideas for Ludlow and seriously, it’s so boring, I’m falling asleep whilst typing ittttttttttwiooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Oh, if you have no idea what the fuck a “Ludlow” is, click here and catch up. Or don’t and remain clueless. Whatever, man, that’s totes your beeswax.

During filming, Shannon Lark looked far into the future and yawned upon reading this boring post.

If you’ve watched any of my previous…uh, let’s call them “films” for lack of a better term, shall we?…then you may or may not be surprised to find out that they’re all edited on l’il ol’ iMovie5. See, I’m always about 6 or 8 steps behind the curve when it comes to computers due to the fact that I’m not a millionaire. It’s true! Though I exude exquisite class and glamour all over The Internet, I am little more than a humble pauper.

Another example of exquisite class and glamour.

As such, I plod along all humble pauper-style working with programs from 5 years ago and everything’s generally cool; I’m a big proponent of the idea that your equipment doesn’t entirely matter, but rather it’s all about what you can do with it. *sexual innuendo, wakka wakka* The point is, geez… the first three episodes of Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb were shot on VHS, and they’re…largely coherent, at least.

SHANNON LARK: Stacie never gives herself enough credit. “Lack of a better term?” Her movies are wonderful! And they actually make sense. Especially her latest with that wedding dress-thing.

In related news, did you know that NOBODY uses VHS anymore? Weird, right? I just don’t understand this modern world! VHS is so cool. Why I remember the day I stepped up to VHS from using this thing. Oh, what a day that was. Electric Youth!

I’ll readily admit that top of the line equipment would be swell to own- after all, there’s no arguing that stuff shot on the Red One (fancy, expensive) looks better than stuff shot on VHS (not fancy, obsolete). But again, I’m not a millionaire and thus I make do. Sometimes, though, you just gotta bite the bullet and upgrade your crap to crap plus.

Sorry, VHS. I mean, you don’t look THAT bad and I still love you and all…

Sometimes, upgrading is all about ease. After those first three episodes of Ghostella, I dumped my VHS camera for a cheap (but kick ASS) mini-DV camera. In addition to superior picture quality, this meant I could simply import footage directly from the camera into iMovie rather than burning a DVD from the VHS tapes, extracting the footage from the DVDs, converting the file types, and THEN importing to iMovie. I still make out with my little camera every night as my perverted way of thanking it for saving me so much time and hassle. The making out is also my way of letting it know that I think it’s pretty.

…but this is a little sharper…and widescreenier…and insanier.

SHANNON LARK: I agree that you should make out with your equipment. It makes it function better (as long as no saliva hits the mother board) as the good vibes permeate its mechanical consciousness.

I’m trying to make a…well, a GOOD MOVIE here with Ludlow. Relatively speaking, natch. I want it to look beautiful, and I want as much as possible to avoid the deadliest of pitfalls that frequently lay waste to no-budget movies: shitty audio. Whether or not I’ll achieve these goals remains to be seen, but to give myself a leg up I used Shannon’s fancy-pants camera to shoot the film (although not wanting to neglect my own beloved camera, I brought it with me to capture behind the scenes shenanigans and, you know, to make out with). The second part of this mathemagical equation involves post-production and my decision to…dun dun dunnnnn…upgrade from iMovie 5 to Final Cut Express 4. This is roughly the equivalent of upgrading from sitting on your ass all day to going all nutcake and doing the Ironman Triathlon in under an hour.

I don’t know if that makes any sense, or whether doing the Triathlon in under an hour would indeed indicate a level of nutcakedness, but perhaps you get the point.

What? No, I’ve never done the Ironman Triathlon. BIG DEAL. It’s not like I’ve never done ANYTHING. I mean, this one time I stayed up for two days straight and lemme tell ya, it broke my fucking brain! It was during a road trip with my friend Jim, and the highlight of the trip was probably the moment when my mind completely melted and I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant where we’d had breakfast. The restaurant was called Country Pride (gross, awesome), but the closest I could get to calling it that was to blurt out “Purity Face”.

SHANNON LARK: Hahaha! I went to a place like that recently. It had a giant pig in front of it, which I rode.

“Purity Face” is clearly not even close.

Anyway.

Look, I’m not trying to knock iMovie Version From 5 Years Ago, believe me. I’ve done some cool stuff with it, if I do say so myself (and clearly I do say so myself). However, the program is largely aimed at people who want to make a “movie” of their kids pooping at the beach and Ken Burns-style photo montages set to the tune of Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” to give as a gift to Nana and Pap Pap for their 60th wedding anniversary- and that’s…you know, mega-cool. But for Ludlow, I want more control than iMovie can provide; I want to filter audio and correct colors and all that deluxe good-time jazz. Lo, I say unto thee, this is a story about control. Control of what I say, control of what I do- and this time, I’m gonna do it MY way. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Are we ready? I am- ‘cause it’s all about control…and I’ve got lots of it.

NnnngaaaahhhhhJANET JACKSON GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

“I will fuck up your dreams!”

Sorry, wait…mmm. Err, where the fuck am I going with this?

Oh yeah- so I upgraded my computer and now my stupid big fat scanner is no longer compatible with my system (it sits, useless and mocking) which means I can no longer scan in…you know…STUFF FOR MY LIFE which includes COMICS and I’ve got Final Cut Express but it’s super complicated and I don’t know what I’m doing and I hate not knowing what I’m doing and I feel my self-imposed deadline looming and I’m totally freaking out.


SHANNON LARK: Girl, you are gonna get the freakin’ stupid editing system BLAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Just keep working at it. You are super smart and you do things and you have the BESTEST blog on the intarweb where people send you fanmail and some of them even try to look up pictures of me naked just because you have let me go blablabla on your blog about masturbation and Ludlow. This is just Ludlow trying to bring you down, man. Fuck Ludlow. Fuck it with an iron fist and conquer this program till you hit yourself in the face cause your fist goes right through it, all transparency-like.

SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP did I really write all this just to bitch about how my new editing program is OH SO HARD and WAH WAH WAHH and IT’S GOING TO TAKE ME SO LONG TO LEARRRRRRRRNNNN? Hmm. I guess I did.

Well, I SAID it was boring…and YOU read it anyway! SUCKER!

Sorry, that’s not very nice at all. I’m going to go make an iMovie video featuring a Ken Burns-style montage of all our favorite Final Girl pictures from over the years, and I’ll set it to the tune of Icy Spicy Leoncie’s “Man! Let’s Have Fun” as my way of apologizing.

Actually, that video sounds pretty cool. Wow, I should be a jerk more often!

And please don’t remind me that I’m bitching about editing movies on my computer while the world is riddled with people who have no homes or clothes or perhaps not even eyes, because I feel guilty enough about my meager entitlements already. I BID YOU GOOD DAY.

Deadly Dress 4: Never A Bride

This trailer took approximately 50,002 years to shoot, but now it’s done done done and posted on Funny or Die for the world to see. It’s a greatest hits montage of stupidness starring a bunch of my friends. Hooray for everything!

If you dig it, head over to Funny or Die and cast a vote for FUNNY. It’ll make Jesus happy.

Okay, I don’t know about that…but it’ll make ME happy, and that’s…you know…fine, too.

so i made a movie, part five

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I’d share all the boring details about how that came to be, because…you know…sharing is caring and if there’s one I thing I do, it’s care. Part one of the saga is here, part two is here, part three is here, and part four is here.


The alarm went off at 5:30am. I opened my eyes and saw the overhead light was on. Power had come once again to Ludlow! I sat up, a big, goofy grin on my face, and- being the nerd I am- literally gasped aloud with glee. I restrained myself from clasping my hands to my cheeks all moony-eyed style. I looked over at Shannon to see if she shared my excitement, but she was still passed out. Why wouldn’t she be? It was 5:30 in the fucking morning!

By 9am we were rolling and we never looked back. I realize this is all in sharp contrast to the first two days of our undertaking, but we really encountered no problems at all on Thursday. Lemme tell ya, it was really fucking nice.

SHANNON LARK: I couldn’t believe it! I was half expecting an airplane to crash through the roof, or something. This feeling made me haul ass and concentrate like my life depended on it.

you have no idea how effing hot it was outside

We shot outside in the blazing sun, we shot inside making day-for-night…we cranked and cranked and cranked, not stopping until about 4:30pm or so when my other actors- Elissa Dowling and Ned Christensen- showed up on set. I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out what a superstar Ned is; maybe you recognize his name from Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb, as he provided me with a good portion of the music found throughout the series. But he has a regular, rather fancy-schmancy job, and I know that driving all the way out to Ludlow after work- only to turn around and drive back that night so he could work the next morning- is something…you know, not just anyone would do. He’s as rare as a unicorn, that one.

Bearing in mind Ned’s time constraints, we cranked out all of scenes as quickly as we good. Lots and lots of violence, lots and lots of blood, lots and lots of awesomeness. Shannon had some extremely intense work to do, and she did it. I was happy that Ludlow was finally giving us a break, and I couldn’t have been happier with what I was seeing through the camera lens.

no one tried the French Dip, despite its famousness

We finished up with Ned around 11pm and he high-tailed it back to Los Angeles. We continued to work after he’d gone; scenes with Shannon and Elissa outside the motel, scenes with Shannon screaming inside the motel…and of course by this time of night, the motel was in fact full up. At one point, we got some neighbors- a woman who didn’t look a day under 70 and another woman who could have only been her mother. I went over to warn them about what was going on, that unfortunately there’d be a bit of yelling and blood, but we were making a movie so there was no cause for alarm. Their response?

“Oh, alright. We’ll keep the TV turned down low so we don’t bother you.”

I swear, my eyes welled up; it’s stupid but I get that way when people are inordinately sweet and nice and kind. I clarified that I wasn’t asking them to be quiet at all, and I somehow resisted the urge to, in the onset of my late-night delirium, give the grannies a hug.


We finally called it a night around 1am and stayed up a while longer to sort of process- we’d finally managed to get a day in with no problems. Granted, it was an incredibly long day, but we were under the wire. Is that a saying? I have no idea. We were somewhere around the wire, at any rate, somewhere in its vicinity, trying to cram a lot of work into not a lot of time. As much as we’d accomplished on Thursday, we still had about 15 scenes left to shoot on Friday. That’s…kind of a lot. Some time around 2, as I was finally drifting off to sleep, Shannon quietly muttered the last words of the day:

“Wud up, Ludlow??”

SHANNON LARK: Not before I crammed Miso soup down Stacie’s face. We realized we hadn’t really eaten all day, except for those pepperonchini’s topped with peanut butter…and some toasted seaweed.

Up again and cranking by 8am, we just kept on doing our thing. Our thing went all crazy kick ass like; you’ll be pleased to know that everything went as smooth as could be expected- YOU WILL BE PLEASED I SAY. Ludlow and fortune continued to smile upon us: the power stayed on, the Chevron kept the free coffee and water flowin’, and I kept the blood flowin’. We worked and we worked and then when we got tired, we worked some more.

the pink sunglasses with the spinning pearls make everyone cool

I combined a few scenes in the interests of flow and…you know, time, which was a wee bit scarce as Shannon was due to fly out of Los Angeles at 4pm on Saturday. I rewrote some stuff on the fly and would hand scenes off for a bit of rehearsal while I organized my thoughts and changed my shot lists. It was exhausting and exhilarating; the biggest change I made was in the very last scene, where Krista has a large monologue. Due to the work we’d been doing, to my directing and the way Shannon had been playing the character up to that point, the monologue really didn’t make sense by the time we got around t shooting it. The character was in a different place than I’d anticipated when I wrote it, and she simply wouldn’t say the things I had her saying. The tone was far different than I intended- it was better. All the changes I made were for the better, and in the end there were more than a few- and Shannon just rolled with it. She learned new lines and got on with it. It was an amazing collaborative effort and no matter the end result (HOLY CRAPPING CRAP I HOPE IT’S GOOD), it was an incredible collaborative process.

When I said “Cut” the last time, when I turned off the camera for good because we’d gotten what we’d needed to, the clock said 6:34am. 6:34am on Saturday. We shot for about 22 hours straight, because that’s how long it took to get everything done. The whole script- the whole movie- was in the can. I couldn’t believe how long we’d been at it, and that it was finally over.

SHANNON LARK: By that time I was giggling like a perfect mixture of a blushing school girl and a crazy person. I sat down. I slept for 5 minutes with my bloody hands in the air. I love filming!!!

Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate. We packed up and cleaned the room as best as we could, wiping blood off the walls and the doorknobs. Shannon finally got a chance to wash her hair, which she hadn’t done all week (for the character, man, I swear!). We loaded the car and were on the road by 8:30, but not before Ludlow had one last laugh at my expense- violent winds had begun to blow (like, dust storm violent), and my car door slammed on my foot as I was sliding in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t surprised that Ludlow would try one more time to defeat us, but in the end it couldn’t. Later that evening, after Shannon had gone home and I was about to pass out from exhaustion, I laughed at the purple bruises on my foot and my sunburned arms. Ludlow was already becoming a memory, some weird sort of dream.



SHANNON LARK:
I went to the airport and had a bloody mary with some almonds. I immediately became drunk, and that bloody mary was “aiport” weak! I was yelled at by an attendant on the plane, and promptly passed out all the way home, my fingers on my laptop keyboard.

Then eventually I started writing this, and…you know, I remembered it all.

WUD UP, LUDLOW??

MONDAY: TEASER TRAILER! In the meantime, enjoy some screencaps. ENJOY THEM.



so i made a movie, part four

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I’d share all the boring details about how that came to be, because…you know…sharing is caring and if there’s one I thing I do, it’s care. Part one of the saga is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

We awoke in Baker a day behind schedule but still psyched: we could check into the rooms at the motel in Ludlow around 11am, and then we could start shooting this movie in earnest. Off we drove.

SHANNON LARK: But not before pointing and laughing at the world’s largest thermometer, which, like I said, appears to be a gigantic erected cock.

The return trip to Ludlow was uneventful but beautiful. Driving through the Mojave Preserve is an unforgettable experience; the park is a gorgeous, desolate expanse covering over a million and a half acres, replete with joshua trees, boulders, and massive sand dunes. While the reservation fuck up in Ludlow was a massive pain, I was thankful that our solution sent us north through this amazing wilderness.

We arrived at the Chevron station in the late morning and in a shocking turn of events, our reservations were still intact! Our two rooms soon became one, however, when my debit card kept getting declined, despite the fact that I had more than enough money available to cover the costs. In a few days, Shannon Lark would work her magic and get some bank representative on the phone for me- apparently getting a hotel room in Baker and then one the following day in Ludlow is cause enough for the bank to freeze my account, putting me on fraud alert. A minor-ish hassle, but typical of the many obstacles we’d come to face as we attempted to make this fucking movie.

the magic room, #8

Shannon and I quickly unloaded into the room and set about to start shooting. I was well-organized, Shannon brought the performance, and we didn’t fuck around. By 1pm, we’d cranked out about 4 scenes out of the 28 we had slated for the week. We worked fast, but didn’t sacrifice quality. We were on a roll.

We decided to take a quick break so I could think about the next set up. Shannon stayed in the room while I ran across the street to the Chevron to take advantage of the complimentary water and coffee and soda we got as guests of the luxurious Ludlow Motel. Upon my return to the room, Shannon mentioned that the light had suddenly gone out while I was gone.

In fact, ALL the power was out.

SHANNON LARK: I was eating almonds and boom! The power went out. I looked at our dinky lights and couldn’t quite believe that they had thrown out the power for the entire building.

After fifteen minutes or so, when the power still hadn’t started up again, I headed to the Chevron, hoping to find out if we’d blown a fuse or the circuit breakers needed tripping or…whatever. The clerks behind the counter were…shall we say, less than helpful.

“Yup, the power’s out.”

“But it’s not out here…”

“The gas station and the diner run on one generator and the rest of the town (!!!!) runs on another.”

“Has the outage been reported? Does anyone know what the problem is?”

“Could be the weather. Maybe someone crashed into something.”

“So…what do we do?”

“This happens all the time, and in the 9 years I’ve been working here, they’ve never given anyone a refund.”

I headed back to the room in a daze. I relayed the tale to Shannon and we just sort of sat there, unsure what to do. The interior was too dark for filming. We couldn’t really do much except wait it out. We ran lines, I worked on my storyboards…and we waited. And waited. And waited.

Shannon was convinced that the clerks at the Chevron could do something to help our situation- she was envisioning some scenario where they’d supply us with extension cords and let us tap into the diner’s generator; she stormed over to the gas station but in the end, didn’t have much more luck than I did. She did, however, get them to at least promise to refund our money if we decided to leave.

SHANNON LARK: By that time, I was getting pissed. $55 a night and no power? I was absolutely certain that they would at least run an extension cord across the parking lot so we could power a couple lights. Stacie went with me and the guy told me they didn’t even “own” extension cords. I demanded for the owner (who owns all three businesses in town, that bastard). The manager rushed over to the diner, where the owner was hiding, and came back with a big fat NO. No, we will not give you light. But we will refund your money….

Clearly, we were in a bind- should we stay? Where else could we go? The sun was already sinking lower, and unless the power returned as suddenly as it’d disappeared, another day would be toast. We decided to go over to the diner and grab some chow. We convinced ourselves that this change of scenery would somehow do the trick, that when we returned to the room we’d have lights and we could start filming again. Several hours and two green chile cheese omelettes later, we walked back to the motel in darkness…

…and in darkness we remained. Still no power.

running lines by flashlight is fucking awesome

SHANNON LARK: I wandered around in the trailer park before we hit up the diner, determined to get to the end of this with the locals. I love trailer parks. I grew up in a series of them and love the vibe they give, it’s a feeling that’s better than sex! Three kids were walking back to their trailer and I asked if they knew anything about the power outage. They said that the town turns it off sometimes, to preserve power. I fiddled around with a box that said “Hotel Generator” but it was covered in spiders. That’s when that bastard of an owner rode up in his truck, carrying some dude who was all smiley. “I’m sorry hun, but the power is fer the businesses,” he said to me as he rolled up. Like I’m supposed to know who he is. This is the motherfucker who wouldn’t lend us extension cords to his generator that we could see from our window. He drove off thinking he was hot shit, and probably made comments regarding banging nails out of a piece of wood.

LUDLOW COFFEE SHOP…excuse me, the LUDLOW CO EE SHOR…sucking up all the power is fucking awesome

Shannon got her Encyclopedia Brown on and tracked down the power company responsible for coverage in Ludlow. The Powers That Be were aware of the problem, but had no idea where it was located, never mind what fixing it would entail. Newberry Springs, a good 30 miles to the west of Ludlow, was also without power. Somewhere out in the Mojave there was a downed line, or…you know, like the clerk said, someone had “crashed into something”. They had no idea when the power would return.

So there we sat, sharing a flashlight, another day lost. Our four-day shooting schedule was now reduced to two.

sitting in the dark is fucking awesome

Sometime after midnight, Shannon passed out. I stayed up, staring at the road atlas, trying to make a decision, trying to figure out what to do if the power was still out when we woke up. Should we head back to Baker and give the Bun Boy Motel a try? Should we head south to Joshua Tree in the hopes of finding a new location? I told the universe very nicely that I’d really appreciate it if the power was back on in the morning, but if it wasn’t, I decided that we’d head back to Baker to try our luck- at least it was a known quantity and we could reshoot the few scenes we’d finished already. I set the alarm for 5:30am and fell asleep.

SHANNON LARK: I fell asleep after one beer, muttering about what we’d accomplished that day. I knew that cramming four days of shooting into two was going to be intense, but the anger over Ludlow’s lack of professionalism would fuel my desire. HUZZAHH!!

so i made a movie, part three

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I’d share all the boring details about how that came to be, because…you know…sharing is caring and if there’s one I thing I do, it’s care. Part one of the saga is here, part two is here.

I have a weird relationship with conventions, whether they be horror-related, comic book-related, or Wilford Brimley-related. Mind you, I’m talking about when I go as a spectator; setting up a table, selling my crap, and kissing babies is another enchilada altogether. See, the thing is, I really look forward to these shows. I see the guest list and think to myself “Holy crapping crap, I’m finally gonna get to meet that guy who played that thing in that movie!”; I see a panel schedule and I think “Oh my YES, I can’t wait to attend a half-hour reunion of the cast of Children of the Corn Part 36: Malachai is Still Mad!” Then I get to the damn show and…I don’t know, it’s the weirdest thing. I realize that I’m certainly not going to spend $25 so the guy who played that thing in that movie can write his name on a piece of paper for me, and I remember that I don’t give a flying fuck about Children of the Corn Part 36: Malachai is Still Mad. I do a lap or two of the show floor, take a look at stuff, don’t buy anything, and either leave or sit at the table of a friend who’s open for business. Next thing you know, the weekend has come and gone, the convention has packed up and left, and I’m at home thinking, “Why didn’t I talk to anybody?” I swear, I always intend to go table to table talking to people, and I never, ever do. I just don’t have anything to say.

SHANNON LARK: Stacie is 100% right. She got there, and within a couple minutes had run for cover behind my table. I think she was confused by people purchasing autographs, and she even saved me when creepy guys who wanted hugs chased me through the convention. I never have anything to say to the “celebrities” either, it’s always so much better when they come up to you because of your work. I’ve never purchased an autograph from anyone, and honestly hardly made it to a panel unless I was hosting it or directly involved.

So anyway, that’s how Fangoria was for me. I ended up going to about 3% of the panels I thought I would. I spent most of my time with people I see regularly. I came home empty handed, with the exception of the autographed photo Shannon Lark foisted on me.

SHANNON LARK: It’s to add to your shrine! Love, Shannon Lark…

Shannon, meanwhile, worked her ass off at the show- it’s true what they say, that a Fangoria Spooksmodel’s work is never done. It was great fun watching contenders for the crown come up to her table to sheepishly ask for advice, while Shannon sat atop her chainsaw-laden steel throne.

the Spooksmodel zoning out at the Walking Distance panel

SHANNON LARK: Haha! I’m such a douchebag.

The Tuesday after the convention, however, it was time to forget about autographs and thrones and get down to the business of making Ludlow. Shannon was due to fly home the following Saturday, meaning we had about four days to shoot a 20-page script. Needless to say, time was…you know…really of the fucking essence. I picked her up at her hotel around 7am and we hit the highway, leaving the Los Angeles traffic behind as we sped past snow-capped mountains, traveling out into the desert.

too early to be picking someone up

We arrived in Ludlow a few hours later and pulled into that new-ish, shiny-ish Chevron station. I recognized the girl behind the counter as the one I’d spoken to just a couple of weeks before, the same one who wrote my name- albeit misspelled- on a cash register receipt and crammed it in the drawer. I walked up and told her we were there for our rooms, and after a moment’s search, she responded with:

“We don’t have a reservation for you, and the motel is all full up.”

I really wish I could’ve seen the look on my face, which I’m sure was a look of squinty-eyed, slack-jawed bewilderment. My synapses were smoking and firing, but what she said simply didn’t compute. All I could do was stammer a pathetic “B-but…but I remember you wrote my name down!” She didn’t deny this- rather she copped to the fact that she simply fucked up. She was sorry we were out of luck, but she…umm…kindly offered us two warm bottles of disgusting iced tea that were sitting on the counter as a parting consolation gift. We reserved rooms for the following day, and this time she swore they’d be ready for us.

SHANNON LARK: Full up?! There were two cars in the motel parking lot. That’s it! I think they were bluffing, and being lazy, and incompetent.

So there we were, 11am on the first shooting day, with nowhere to shoot. Shannon and I stood in the Chevron parking lot, enduring the scorching sun while I had a 30-second freak out.

Then we opened the road atlas.

I knew there was no point in retracing our steps back towards Los Angeles- after all, if we’d passed somewhere appropriate for the movie, I probably would’ve found it on my little scouting trip. Our only real option was to push onward in the hopes of finding somewhere new to shoot so we wouldn’t lose the day completely. Looking at our options, we decided to push on to Baker, an additional hour’s drive to the northeast across the Mojave Preserve. I’d passed through there before and I knew the tiny town was home to the world’s largest thermometer- surely Baker would have to have some hotels to accommodate the throngs of people flocking to see such a sight. We hopped in the car and headed to Baker, our middle fingers raised as Ludlow receded in the rearview mirror. I was starting to regret turning down Shannon’s offer of sunscreen as my arms and face came to resemble something hot off the spit at Kenny Rogers’s Roasters.


Along the way, we managed to shoot a few bits and pieces, the highlight of which is probably the scene where Shannon gets to puke. In honor of Ludlow’s dicking us over, we used the nasty iced tea for the effect. A bit later, I was shooting some footage of her walking around by some sweet ass joshua trees when I decided it would be the perfect time to film a scene where Shannon’s character (“Krista”) finds something in the dirt. I began the lengthy walk back to the car to get the…something…when a cactus attacked me. I was just walkin’ on by, minding my own business, when all these cactus spines ended up in my leg. Did you know that those things sticking out of a cactus are pointy? Well, they are! Worse than that, they’re barbed, which makes pulling them out extra painful. Though I spent 15 minutes hunched over pulling them out, it would be days before my leg was cactus-free.

SHANNON LARK: God, that ice tea was nasty! I never have anything “diet” because of all the preservatives and fake sugar crap they put in it. I really did enjoy the vomit scene though, and I got to drive Stacie’s car, which made it even more fun. I missed an important exit and had to do some off-roading after I stalled on the highway. Heh. Stacie looked a bit worried, but I assured her this is how we do it in ME-HI-KO.

When Stacie was attacked by the cactus, I saw her bend over for a long time in the distance. I thought at first that she was urinating, and it reminded me how I needed to pee. After I got a signal from her that she was okay, I peed next to my own cactus and felt much better. Diet Tea! Be gone!

I finally made it to the car and back to Shannon, who had no idea what the fuck was going on. I was sunburnt and limping, and I felt like I’d just completed a tour of ‘Nam. None of this matters when it’s time to shoot the movie, though, so I raised the camera, hit record…and the battery promptly died. I gave up on that shot, and we continued on to Baker.

SHANNON LARK: It just wasn’t meant to be. Filming sign from the Gods #1. I slept and drooled on my sweater as she drove.

We got there around 1pm and assessed the motel sitch: none of the candidates looked at all like what we needed for this film. There was the Royal Hawaiian, one of those skanky crack-looking hotels that people live in; it was deemed far too frightening and most likely unsafe. There was the Bun Boy Motel- and lemme tell you right now, that’s a name I’ll NEVER find anything less than awesome. The Bun Boy, however, was deemed too depressing to even stay in, never mind shoot in. That left the Wills Fargo Motel- yes, the Wills Fargo. It seemed pleasant enough, and it had a pool. The sign in the window instructed us to check in at the country store down the street, so off we went. The window at the country store featured a large neon sign stating MOTEL CHECK-IN HERE. Still, when I inquired about the motel to the old lady behind the counter, she shook her head and softly said “Oh no, dear- you check in for the motel at the motel,”- practically shushing me and patting my hand as if I were…you know, simple and insane for asking. Eventually someone helped me and we got a room at the Wills Fargo, hoping against hope it’d be good enough a space in which we could shoot this movie.

It wasn’t.

our beautiful room- #3 at the Wills Fargo

Not that it wasn’t…well, “nice”, I guess, doesn’t seem completely appropriate. It wasn’t going to work for Ludlow, however, if only because of the acoustics. The floor was fashioned from ceramic tile, the ceilings were way too high…it was like staying in a shed. It was depressing. The room’s “art”- a single, large “W”, was painted the same color as the wall. Here we were, trapped in Baker on the afternoon of the first day, unable to do anything. Our already-tight shooting schedule got tighter, four days suddenly down to three.

We did what we could- running lines, character work, dipping in the pool, revising shot lists- for as long as we could. Once the sun went down, we figured…you know, fuck it. We’d be heading back to Ludlow in the morning, so we’d might as well blow off the rest of the night. We went to check out the 24-hour taco restaurant nearby, only to find that it wasn’t yet open for business. The only other food options- fast food- left us feeling uninspired, so we bought a six-pack at the convenience store and ate miso soup Shannon prepared for us. I ate mine out of the Wills Fargo’s complimentary ice bucket.

the “W” that blends into the wall, the world’s largest thermometer, and Shannon Lark

Sure, this is all a little strange. The strangest thing about Baker, though, is the locusts. Well, I don’t know if they’re locusts, exactly- they’re more like some sort of flying grasshopper things that descend upon the city at nightfall. Thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of them. So many that walking to the convenience store was like walking through a minefield, except instead of mines there were…you know, locust things. We were pelted by them. They swarmed around streetlights in clouds. They beat against the door to our room, trying to get in. If we opened the door, we’d be lucky to get it closed before we had ten in the room. In the morning, their carcasses littered the streets and parking lots. I’m not exaggerating- it was fucking insane and even a bit frightening. I have no idea why they were there, or more importantly, what they wanted. Shannon likened it to being in an Indiana Jones movie, while I suggested that if we were only three apples high, it would’ve been like we were in The Mist.

SHANNON LARK: Yes, the locusts were insane and I referred to them as “Crunch Crunch Mothafuckin’ Crunch!” while we were hit in the face by them on our way to the convenience store. Stacie bought me some really awesome pink glasses with spinning pearls as my payment for the film. We drank beer and ate miso (jesus, that’s alot of sodium) and I read aloud a picture book by BASEMAN. After 1.5 beers I dropped all my inhibitions and we took pictures representing the essence of Baker.

Not only did Baker offer a shed, a freezing pool, the attack of the Locusts, AND miso soup in an ice bucket, but Baker is famous for having the largest thermometer in the world. It sat outside our window like a giant, erected cock. What’s up with that Baker?

All in all, we got very little accomplished on the first day- virtually nothing, really- but we hadn’t lost our heads and we still had a great time. “Wud up, Baker!” became- and remains- our battle cry. Ludlow, however, was still ahead of us.

“Wud up, Baker!”

so i made a movie, part two

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I’d share all the boring details about how that came to be, because…you know…sharing is caring and if there’s one I thing I do, it’s care. Part one of the saga is here.

Before I’d even made it home from hanging out with Shannon on the Queen Mary, my brain was working full throttle to come up with some sort of idea for this movie we’d suddenly decided to make together. The first and foremost thought in my mind was that I didn’t simply want to make another episode of Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb; not that I don’t love Ghostella with every fiber of the fabric of my life, but because I thought it would be a good thing to stretch my repertoire a bit, as it were. If I have one…which I’m not entirely sure I do. At any rate, I wanted to use this opportunity to push myself outside of my Z-grade comfort zone and make something…well, different. Profound, I know- but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned once or twice or a million times, man…my rivers run so effing deep!

SHANNON LARK: While Stacie was pulling her hair out, I was going on some tirade about chronic masturbation, and wrote a beautiful script that deals with me…and my vagina! Yay! In a frenzy, I took off to Oklahoma during the recent snow storm and almost hit a jacknifed semi. Some guy in a funny hat came along and pulled me out of the ditch and I made it to a small town called Arnette. I was cared for by a very nice motel owner, who I think wanted to make me his wife and we hit up the local bar, where it was a “serve yourself” sort of thing. They also cooked chili but I declined. The next day, the mentally impaired brothers outside the gas station let me throw snow balls at them.

Alright, great, so I wanted to make a movie that’s a bit more serious than my usual fare. Truth be told, this simply added another layer of…well, not stress and anxiety, exactly, but another layer of lite concern to the process. Stepping outside my comfort zone (which, it just so happens, is across the street from Vanessa Williams’s Comfort Zone; I saw her once when I was getting my mail, but I don’t think she saw me)…oh my gawd, is this boring? I think this might all be boring. I’m not one to…you know, really share stuff beyond my love of Melrose Place and Icy Spicy Leoncie, so giving a peek behind my creative draperies feels self-indulgent, boring, boring, and self-indulgent. But I’ve started, and I told Shannon I would be doing this “production” “diary” thing, so I’ve got to continue. Now’s your chance to jump ship if you want.

SHANNON LARK: You are not boring! I love your brain! Sometimes I even wish I could sit on it.

So, uh…the anti-Ghostella movie. As you may have surmised, I didn’t start with any concrete ideas regarding plot; rather, it was a matter of not wanting to re-use any of the locations I’d used before. I’m so tired of the same backgrounds, the same spaces, the same Golden Girls couch lurking behind the action, I wanted to shoot anywhere else besides my house or my friends’ houses…and it grew from there. Find a new location, and keep the cast extremely small.

It sprang to mind almost immediately that I’d like to shoot somewhere in the desert. I fucking love the desert. It’s so strange and bizarre and harsh and deadly and beautiful, I can’t get enough of it. It’s the closest I’m ever gonna get to living on Mars, and the fact that it’s an hour’s drive from the comforts of my home means the world to me. The desert both attracts and births wackadoos, and it’ll kill you in a day if you’re not careful. What better place to shoot a horror film? About a week after our napkin contract was signed- less than 3 weeks before we were set to start filming, all I had was a vague idea of a location. “How do you feel like holing up in the desert to shoot this thing?” I wrote to Shannon. “It’s all coming together a bit in my head, and ‘middle of nowhere’ sounds fucking awesome to me.”

SHANNON LARK: I love the desert too! Born and raised, yes siree. I completely understood the feeling she was going for, simply because she mentioned the desert. It reminded me of tailgate parties and so much isolation that I would go through suicidal waves that left me crying in the closet.

I’m not one to share ideas, really, before I’ve got a completed project. I’d rather hand you something I’ve finished than talk about it before I’ve begun making it. This is largely due to the fact that I’m pretty terrible at articulating what’s going on inside my head- while it’s all crystal clear up there, when it comes out of my mouth it sounds like a bunch of crap. In general, I’d rather keep it all to myself during the “process”; this time, however, I tried to keep Shannon in the loop as much as possible. Of course, all that did was highlight the reasons why I keep shit to myself. What is someone supposed to think when I email her vague ideas and random sentences, and all I’ve got worked out plot-wise is “…and then something something something stab stab something the end”? Better just to hand off a finished script, which I finally did about 10 days before Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors. All that remained was naming it.

SHANNON LARK: The first time Stacie told me the plot she said something to the effect of, “Oh…I don’t know…it would be in the desert…and you know, something would happen…and then…I don’t know…stabstabstab the end.” I thought it was cinematic genius, particularly the stabstabstab part. I believe in Stacie and what she can do. I would have done a Ghostella episode, for all I care. It didn’t matter. What was important to me was getting to work with her. So when she sent over the script I fell for it like pecans and ice cream. I did my best to learn the insane amount of dialogue over the next few days, while preparing for Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors. I had lost my mind. The script went up into the air like falling snow. Every time I opened it something overwhelming would fall in my lap and my brain turned to goo. Stacie called to find out if I even liked the script and all I could muster was “yes…I do! I like it! Yes!”

What a douchebag.

I don’t want to give anything away, and I’m exceedingly terrible at loglines and short descriptions. If I were tasked with writing the copy on the back of DVD cases, the sleeve would be a four-page gatefold, you know? Let’s just say that in the end, this movie is, to an extent, kind of influenced a bit, maybe, perhaps, a little, by Repulsion and Bug. It’s a girl holed up in the desert- I’m really into exploring…I don’t know, isolation and madness, I suppose. Visually, I wanted it to be as pretty as a film I’ve been completely obsessed with lately called The Dead Girl. Ob. Sessed. Seriously, you should check it out, even though it’s not horror. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and a little bit phenomenal.

With the script finished, all that remained before Shannon’s arrival was something…you know…totes minor: finding a place to shoot the damn thing. I needed an out-of-the-way, borderline-fleabag motel and a diner, the more isolated, the better. After the slightest bit of research (in a BOOK, of all places!), I decided to simply get in my car and drive east out into the Mojave. A couple of hours later, I exited in Ludlow, and lemme tell ya, it was as if that place was crapped out by my very own brain. There was a borderline-fleabag motel and a diner and a gas station, and that’s about it. Maybe 10 trailers out behind the motel, some train tracks, and a wide expanse of nothing. Ludlow’s story isn’t unfamiliar: a brief boom during the mining days, then nothing. Once Route 66 was surpassed by I-40, it was all over. It’s essentially a ghost town, although “town” is probably too generous a term.

In other words, it was perfect.


SHANNON LARK: It really reminded me of home: hittin’ up the chili cook offs or the rattlesnake rallies. Yeehaw! Although I think this “town” was too small, even for a bat parade! It truly was perfect.

The motel office has been abandoned for quite some time, and to register for an overnight stay, one must go to the new-ish, shiny-ish Chevron station across the street.



I requested a couple of rooms for a couple of days; the girl behind the counter wrote down my info on a cash register receipt and shoved it in the drawer and that was that. Yeah, a receipt…and by “info” I mean she wrote STACEY 2 ROOMS APRIL 21-23. It was really a sign of things to come, but at the time I was just clueless and ecstatic and ready to go…as you can tell by this nail-bitingly, breathtakingly amazing update to my Twitter upon my triumphant return from Ludlow:

Are you following me on Twitter? I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be. I mean, how else are you going to get such scintillating insights into the deep mysteries of my life, such as this, from April 7:

Roof of my mouth has been itching all day. Am I dying?

(answer: no)…or this, from March 27:

Man, I can fuck up some Pepperidge Farm Milanos.

Really, people, this is why the internet was invented.

Anyway, now we just had to shoot this damn thing, which suddenly had a name…yeah. Ludlow.

so i made a movie, part one

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I’d share all the boring details about how that came to be, because…you know…sharing is caring and if there’s one I thing I do, it’s care.

Remember that thing I did called Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb? The lezzie horror webseries thingy that had some special guest stars and stuff, and some people kind of got the idea behind the whole thing and some people didn’t? Huh? Yeah, well…I don’t know what’s happening with Ghostella. I haven’t yet decided if I want to do a second season or not, or what it’ll entail, or…but! This is not meant to be about Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb.

Remember Fudgalicious gum? Which was gum, but…you know, it was chocolate? That’s either the best or worst idea in the history of ever- kind of like the Spice Girls, or those bowls you can buy that come with a built-in straw for drinking whatever milk is leftover after you’ve eaten your Fruity Pebbles or whatever. Actually, you know what? Those bowls you can buy that come with a built-in straw are the worst, plain-n-simple. I mean, how effing hard is it to tip the bowl into your mouth if you want to drink the leftovers? There needs to be a straw?

Wait! This is not meant to be about Ghostella or Fudgalicious or stupid inventions or stupid, lazy people. This is meant to be about…umm…what was I…oh yeah! This is all concerning a short film I made last week, which I know you’re all peeing your pants in anticipation to hear about. Well, pull up those pants and gather ’round, children, and let me tell you a little tale about a little movie called- and set in- Ludlow.

SHANNON LARK: Wud up, Ludlow??

It all started, I suppose, when my short film Taste of Flesh, Taste of Fear was accepted into the 2008 Viscera Film Festival, sponsored by The Chainsaw Mafia. Taste of Flesh, as I’m sure you’re well aware, was the short featured in the very first episode of Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb. It’s the lesbo vampire short featuring 2 Dollar Store Barbie knockoffs and Posh Spice that’s so EROTICALLY CHARGED that it’s too hot. Too hot, my lady- you’ve gotta run for shelter…gotta run for shade! Or something like that.

Oh, Kool and the Gang, you provide the soundtrack for my life.

But really, people, feel the heat. That heat is hot!



SHANNON LARK: Taste of Flesh, Taste of Fear is and was simply pure genius. If a filmmaker can make a great film using barbie dolls, then she’s gotta blow you away with live action. And she did! I became obsessed with Top Friends. I showed it to my Mom. I showed it to my dog, and he licked himself. That’s a good sign!

But I digress! The point is, the merging of Ghostella and Viscera introduced me to actress, director, Chainsaw Mafia CEO, and Fangoria Spooksmodel extraordinaire Shannon Lark because…well, Viscera is her thang. We met face to face in March during the Paranoia Film Festival; the 2007 Viscera selections were screened, including Heidi “Ghostella” Martinuzzi’s Wretched, and a grand old time was had by all. Actually, don’t hold me to that- I wasn’t conducting exit polls or anything.

Trapped aboard the Queen Mary, Shannon and I spent most of the afternoon in the bar, then moved to a restaurant in the evening. During the course of the many hours we spent together, Shannon let fly that she wanted to be in one of my movies. I was dubious, which speaks more to my insecurity than any insincerity on Shannon’s part; however, she proceeded to bust out a napkin and write up a contract stating much the same.

You can tell it’s official because of all the lawyer-y language, like “This here contract…” and how she ends some words with “-eth”.


SHANNON LARK: I told Stacie a story about how a contract written on a napkin can hold up in court. So I whipped it out* over a margarita in a funny looking glass that gave me stomach cramps. I used all the fancy shmancy jargon I could muster, because I wanted to show I was serious. She looked confused. I was ecstatic, because my evil plan of doing a Film Festival so talented female filmmakers would flock around me and put me in their next productions was actually working out. Besides, Stacie Ponder is amazing.

I jumped at the chance to work with her because she kind of fucking ROCKS. She said she’d be back in Los Angeles in April for Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors to fulfill some of her spooksmodel duties…wouldn’t that be the perfect time to shoot something?

Why yes…yes, it would. I went home all pumped and proceeded to freak out almost immediately- writing something…on purpose? For someone? I don’t tend to work that way. Like with Ghostella, I just write ‘em, pretending no one will ever pay attention. Then I fill the roles. Or even writing here at Final Girl…once I start thinking that someone’s going to be reading this besides me, I get all nervous. It’s like my brain is nude or something, and it’s embarrassing to think that people are looking at it…not that my brain has anything to be ashamed of, because it’s 100% pure 36-24-36, if you know what I mean…and I think you do…which is good, because I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about anymore.

SHANNON LARK: Haha! Stacie is totally nude!! Nude for Satan!

Oh, yeah! I was talking about writing a script for someone. Someone who’s going to make a special effort to make a film with me. Ugh, nerve-wracking. Step one was to figure out what the eff I was gonna make this movie about. Actually, step one probably involved some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, or maybe some ice cream. Step two was to figure out what the eff I was gonna make this movie about. More on that to come.

Can I just say that my local grocery store AND my local Target have both discontinued carrying mint chocolate chip ice cream? That really does not fucking compute. It’s kind of like the Catholic Church discontinuing God.

Anyway.

*Please note, the only thing “whipped out” was a napkin.