This was the first webisode we shot of, "A Cannibal's Handshake." The set was a truck with a big trailer, courtesy of John Putnam. He provided his offices and warehouse in Vernon, which is on the outskirts downtown L.A. If you are looking for a location with parking, bathrooms and offices, I highly recommend Putnam Sourcing. Kenny Johnston and Jimmy Della Valle played Cujo and Rocco. Kenny is a member of the Actor's Studio and Jimmy just has a comedy about him, even when playing things straight. Anthony Clark, who played Andre, is a diamond in the rough who can get it together on a moment's notice.
Spoiler alert! If you haven't watched this episode, stop reading until you do.
Jonathan Kowalsky played the part of Brant. He is a well prepared actor who periodically called me in the days prior to the shoot to ask pertinent questions about his character. Too bad his character died. He would have bee nice to bring back.
The beheading shot was the most difficult. We had to anticipate where the blood would spurt and how to get the high angle shot I wanted without dousing the lens in blood. Our FX makeup man in charge, Alan Cairns, predicted it would take three hacks into the neck before the head would drop with blood spurting out after the first hack and it would progressively get worse through full decapitation. The shot was difficult, not just for the aforementioned reasons, but because the dummy we put in place of jonathan was a lot lighter than a human body and without added weight, the dummy and the chair it was sitting in, would just get knocked over upon contact with the meat cleaver. So I laid on my stomach and held the chair in a way that I was just out of the shot. While on my stomach I called the commands and got the responses: "Camera!" - "camera rolling," "sound!" "sound speeding!" and "charge the blood pump!" This last command was for Alan to pump the blood from a sprayer (like an exterminator would use to spray for bugs), into the dummy. Once he had enough pressure built for a bloody decapitation, he'd say "ready" and I'd call "action!"
Upon calling "action," Jimmy slammed the throat of the dummy with the meat cleaver and the head went flying off the body as if someone had booted it like a soccer ball and no blood come out! I had a feeling something might go wrong so I brought a bunch of green screen paper just in case. We then green screened the shot. We put green paper all over the wall behind Jonathan and had him react as if he just got his neck hacked into. (Vihang and I practiced this shot a couple of times the week before). For the next shot we had Jimmy stand in front of the green screen with a meat cleaver and hack a wood, green screened post, (Jonathan's 2nd stunt double).
After that I had Jonathan put on a green screen T shirt and we put blood around him and he twitched his mouth and eyes. The final result is a concoction of all those shots.
On set John Putnam showed up with his son Jack to check out the shoot. Chris Bruno had a few folks visiting him that stopped by as well. When the visitors were gone I managed to set fire to one of Putnam's boxes with a shipment of hats in it. We turned off one of the tungsten1K lights and I moved a box in the truck right in front of the now powerless light. I stepped out of the truck and shut the door, to shoot the scene with Anthony Clark and Chris Bruno. Once the scene was done, I plugged in the tungsten light again that was inside the truck before actually having eyes on it. When I finally opened the truck door, the box I left in front of the light was on fire and the trailer was filled with smoke. Ten more minutes and that thing would have been a blaze! It was filled with all the other boxes you see in the final film!
Jonathan Kowalsky is ready for his close up!
This was the first episode we shot. You can tell its early morning by the big yawn from the always energetic, Jonathan Kowalsky. This is him with DP, Vihang Walve and FX makeup artist, Alan Cairns. There is Jonathan's stuntman on the makeup table.
There's me checking out Alan Cairn's FX makeup on Jonathan Kowalsky.