Lepus And Terrestrial Updates

ImageI know, I know. I spend a lot of time on here talking about Lepus. Cut me some slack. This is the first time I have officially directed something. It’s like when someone has a baby. Even if the baby is a hideous chud they still want to share pictures on Facebook all the time. Now, I’m not calling Lepus hideous. I’m simply stating that, for all intents and purposes, this is my baby and I want to share it with the world. Is that so wrong? I’m proud of what I created. 


Last night Brian and I met with David Sabal for a few mintues before he was a guest on The Gorram Nerd Hour. During that time he filled us in on what was happening with distribution. It’s been decided that we are going to be distributed by Worldwide MultiMedia. The other five distributors that were looking to pick us up wanted to wait too long to release the DVD. Worldwide can have it out by June (more details on the exact release date as they come in). They will also have copies available before hand for us to autograph and sell at Phoenix Comicon in May. If you’re gonna be there then come get your copy. You won’t be disappointed…well, I can vouch for Lepus at least, not the other shorts in the Scream Machine DVD. Maybe I should “You hopefully won’t be disappointed as I haven’t seen the other shorts”. Anyway, we will also be selling copies through our Facebook page.


Last night we did a little foley work on the project and then talked about our next short film, Terrestrial, that we will hopefully be shooting next month. We just have to wait and see when our lead actor is available. He is going to be busy shooting a movie through part of February. Our second largest role, the character of Travis, has a similar issue with the actor. We wanted to shoot a certain week in February and he will be out of town. These are the people we absolutely want for the short and we will wait if that is what it takes. We loved these actors and really want to see what they do with the roles. You can hear the official casting announcements on The Gorram Nerd Hour later tonight when it goes up. Otherwise you can wait a week for us to post it on our Facebook page and Twitter.


Low Budget Doesn’t Have To Mean “Crap”

First off, I have been a bad blogger. I haven’t posted on here in a while. For that I am truly sorry. I could blame the holidays or just life getting in the way…whatever it is I promise to get better about posting in the near future.

Now, on to the subject at hand. Seeing that I review movies on a regular basis, both on here (well, not lately) and on The Gorram Nerd Hour, I see a lot of crap. But does low budget/straight to video/shot on video mean we have to settle for crap? No. Brian and I spend a lot of time on what we write. It’s the only way to be sure our stuff is actually good enough to shoot. Sure, we want to include blood and gore. That’s gonna sell your straight to DVD movie faster than anything else…well, except for boobs. The trick is to do it in a way that works. 

Recently we had to watch some movies for The Gorram Nerd Hour that were amateur efforts. I’m not going to say they were bad. I didn’t think so anyway. What I will say is that had they taken just a little more time on the script the movies would have turned out a lot better. 

Recently we finished our first short film, Lepus, and we have heard nothing but good things from everyone involved in the post-production process. It’s going to be included on a DVD of shorts directed by Walter Reuther aka Scarlet Fry. He told me that he thinks Lepus is the best short on the DVD. Why? Because we didn’t just rest on idea of blood and guts. We wrote a fifteen page script with a three act structure, interesting characters, cool gags, odd humor and lots of blood and guts. I also wanted to make the short look good. We took our time to get the camera angles needed to make it look more dynamic. We tried to find actors we knew would fit the parts. Even the actors who were friends and family were only chosen if we knew they could do it. We had a lot of really talented people we didn’t cast after the open casting session, people I want to work with in the future. They just weren’t right for the roles. That’s why we got great performances. We chose right. 

Enough about my project. Back to my point. If you choose well, write well, shoot coverage, and don’t rest the camera in one spot a la Kevin Smith you can make a movie that looks good…even on video. And for the love of God don’t include the tickle monster as your killer! 

Writing Ded Moroz

Brian and I were fairly ambitious with our first short film, Lepus. We had 13 speaking parts, 9 deaths, multiple scenes and set ups. Before we shot it I pitched to him the idea of making it a trilogy.

In Lepus we had a man dressed as the Easter bunny killing people on Halloween. In Ded Moroz we will have a man dressed as Santa killing people at Easter. We are still trying to decide what the third killer will be but it is going to be set during Christmas.

Brian and I sat down for a while tonight to write about 10 pages. This will be longer than Lepus and the final installment will be the longest. The hope is that when it is all finished we have something that is roughly feature length.

All the surviving characters are returning. Some will live. Some will die. All we know for sure is that we are only half way there. We made each other laugh several times tonight while writing Ded Moroz. It was probably the most fun we’ve had writing together since writing Lepus. We love the characters. We love the nonsense. We love that we are making each one bloody and weird.

In Ded Moroz we are upping the body count. With nine kills in Lepus we wanted to go for at least twelve this time. We have plenty of fun ideas for how we kill people in this. We have already written six. We have plotted death #7 and know where we are ending the story. We just don’t know who else dies along the way.

We also know that Sheriff Cristos will be dressed as Jesus again. A slightly different looking Jesus from the first one. You’ll just have to wait and see what I mean. We also have people in drag, people dressed like reindeer, people speaking French, and God knows what else before we finish.

There are going to be more locations, more scope. We don’t want to rest on our laurels. We really want to deliver with this thing. Editing on Lepus begins in a couple days. During that time Brian and I will be sequestered in the editing bay with our friend and partner in crime, David Sabal. We may try and work some writing into our schedule during the week. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime you can click here to see photos taken during the Lepus shoot. Enjoy.

Lepus Is Part Of Scream Machine!

Alrighty folks, from the start it has been talked about that we would be a part of something once Lepus was finished shooting. Well, as it turns out that something is a feature called Scream Machine. The other shorts were all done by former horror host Scarlet Fry. He and our DP David Sabal had worked together on all the other shorts. They were looking to add another one to the line-up before they put this baby to bed. Because Brian Smith and I are friends with David and happened to show him a script right around the same time he jumped at it and off we went. 

I don’t know how we got so lucky to be able to get distribution on our first short film but it happened. We also got incredibly lucky with our cast. It’s been amazing how things went for us. Just a few months ago Brian and I were feeling dejected because nobody even wanted to read our feature script, “Welcome To Deadsville”. Now, Tyler Gallant wants to star as the lead in it. He wants to make the proposed sequels to “Lepus” and he wants Brian and me to collaborate on a feature he and Kat Garcia came up with. And, about a month ago, I was talking to Bill Oberst Jr. about “Welcome To Deadsville” and he wants us to keep him in mind when we are ready to shoot. I would love for him to play the Phil character. Things are looking good. 

We still have a couple pick up shots to do. The biggest thing is just making sure my sister’s death scene is sufficiently gory. Unfortunately we have to wait about a week or so for David to get back from Boston to shoot it. There are a bunch of photos from the last night of shooting up at our Facebook page. There are a lot of great shots of Victoria Paege dressed like a sexy nurse before, during and after she gets all bloodied up and bruised. Also, you can check out the iMDb page. It’s still not complete yet. There are a few fixes to be made. First, I am listed as an actor in it but when you click on my name it goes to some kid in Texas. Not me. Second, Brian’s credit somehow got attached to a different Brian E. Smith. Third, my director credit isn’t up yet. Otherwise everything else is there. Go check it out, “like” it, and come to Phoenix Comicon for the premiere!

Shooting Lepus: Day Three

Day three of Lepus was a very short day. We had just a few shots to get. There was a scene with the two sisters, Kelsee and Sierra Benson we couldn’t get to on day two. Then we headed over to Cherith Pruitt’s house to do a quick shot of her sleeping restlessly as she has a psychic vision.

We kept day three light because we thought we would not have Tyler Gallant or Kat Garcia available. They thought they may have been on a shoot for a major motion picture for Warner Brothers. It turns out the scene got cut and they would have been available to us all day. It did afford us time to record the latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour with Tyler as a special guest. So it all worked out.

Day four, our final official shoot date, is going to be a big one. We have nearly the entire cast, several extras and multiple kills to get through. It’s gonna be a long bloody night. I can’t wait to get started.

Shooting Lepus Day 2

Today was amazing. It was the first day of having Tyler Gallant on set to shoot his half his scenes as Sheriff Cristos. He knocked it out of the park. The character is gonna be so much to see on screen when it’s all edited together.

Today was day with with my little sister Cherith Pruitt as Zelda. She plays a psychic who comes to warn the sheriff about the killer Easter Bunny. She used to want to be an actress before she decided that being a wife and mother was a more important pursuit. She did a great job in scenes with Tyler.

Kelsee Benson, my other sister’s oldest child, is playing Jamie in Lepus and shot her first scenes today. She was great. I cannot wait to see what she does on Thursday when we shoot her frightened run.

Kat Garcia came in today to shoot her scenes as a lovely teen who is dressed like a chicken. We were lucky to get her and we have Tyler to thank for that. She plays Jamie’s bitchy friend Mary and did a wonderful job.

Rob Edwards, another one we got thanks to Tyler, stopped in to shoot his two scenes today. He is playing Deputy Beckett, one of the only people who realizes something funky is going on in town. His performance was subtle and very good. We are so grateful to have had in our short film.

Our friend Randy Robinson popped by today too. He is playing the town coroner who is more interested in his own life than in doing his job. His performance was hilarious.

And then there’s Brian Smith. He has never acted, nor did he ever have any interest in doing so. He just wanted to go-write and produce this with me. But I asked him to play the Lepus and he has been amazing. He is so creepy and funny in the pink bunny costume and his 70’s porn star moustache. I am so with his performance.

That just leaves David Sabal. This man is a one man film crew. We got so much accomplished in such a short time in the last two day we are taking tomorrow just to do pick up shots. I can’t say enough good about this man. Without him Lepus wouldn’t have been possible.

We got so much done today it was astounding. We worked our butts off…but it was so worth it. I can’t wait to have something to show you all.

Shooting Lepus: Day One

We finally got started. Somehow I thought it took forever and yet happened so fast. Today was our first day of principal photography on our short film Lepus. Today was a relatively light day, something to help us get our feet wet, so to speak. It was just me (director Jacob O’Neal), David Sabal (the director of photography), Brian Smith (Lepus), and Tracie Knittel (our first victim).

We went to a recently harvested cornfield and shot for a couple hours. Everyone brought their A games which was fantastic. Brian, having never acted before, was creepy and funny as the Lepus. Tracie had done one indie project as a teenager that never got released. She was totally game to run, fall, get gutted…pretty much anything I asked her to do.

David was wonderful in so many ways. Not only did he operate the camera but he also did the make up effects for us today. It was beautifully gory.

As we are planning on using the opening sequence we shot today as the teaser for the short I will not he spoiling anything by telling you what we shot. A woman dressed as a pilgrim is being chased through the cornfield by a man in a pink bunny costume. Eventually she falls, pleads for her life and is killed. It’s your typical horror movie set up…but with a twist. This entire short film is meant to be weird and funny and gory all at the same time.

David is editing together the sequence tonight and we may have something to show by tomorrow. If we do you can be sure that I will post it here and here.  Please go “like” those pages for updates.

Lepus Shoots In Three Days

I have to admit that I am dreaming out a little about shooting my first short film. Around the beginning of September I went through a brief bout of anxiety but it passed quickly. Then I was completely zen about the whole thing. Well that fear has reared its ugly head once again now that there’s only a couple days to go before we start.

I’ve been doing my prep work. I have been making shot lists and storyboards. We had the table read a few days ago that was a lot of fun. Overall, I am very excited. This is what I wanted after all. I suppose even the big directors get nervous before a shoot on a major motion picture. I can’t imagine that anyone feels comfortable with the prospect of shooting a $200 million feature and having it lose money. I guess if I put it like that and remember this isn’t costing us one red cent then I should just be calm and enjoy the ride.

The problem is that I am putting pressure on myself. I don’t want this to look like crap. I want a short that I can he proud of, something that is funny and weird and that people will enjoy…even if they don’t get it. If this looks like some of the shorts I have seen then what is the point in doing this at all? That’s what I’m freaking out about. It’s not the performances, it isn’t the costumes, it isn’t the gore factor. No, it’s me. I am freaking out about me. Do I really have what it takes to do this?

I know deep down that I have the knowledge. I know that my whole life has been leading to this moment. I know somewhere inside of me that I won’t fail. Bit I still have that fear. Oh well. I’ll get over it. Lepus is gonna be fun and weird and bloody, all the things it is meant to be. If it isn’t then I will blame Brian (just kidding, Brian).

Project Updates And News

It’s getting closer and closer to the start of Lepus. I contacted everyone about sitting down next week to do a table read of the script together. I can’t wait to see everyone playing off each other in the same room…especially since many of them are already friends.

But before the table read we have the Rapture Horror Expo all weekend long. It’s the first chance Brian and I have had to record from anyone but a house. I can’t wait to get up in front of a crowd, do our podcast, and grow our listening audience. Plus, we have a great list of people stopping by our show to chat with us. Some I can mention, some I want to surprise you with. But either way it’s going to be a great time. We are bringing cameras too, so there will be video up on http://abnormalentertainment.blogspot.com within a few days after the show.

Brian expressed to me he is creaking out a little about doing the podcast live in front of a crowd. I don’t know why. He and I did three panels at Phoenix Comicon last May and the audience loved it. This time it will be recorded for posterity. We are even bringing Tony and David Sabal along with us. They host a show with Brian about all things comic book related called The Atomic Fallout Society. They’re hoping to score some interviews at the Expo with the comic people there, like Brian Pulido, creator of Lady Death and Evil Ernie.

Once the Expo is done it is back to work on the short film. It’s been nice to have a small reprieve from thinking about it non stop and focus on something else. I have been watching movies to prep for the Expo like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies and Paranormal Entity. I know who most of the actors are that will be there but I wanted to refresh myself on their bodies of work before going. And some of the Lepus cast will be there so we will try and get them to sit down and talk to us a bit about their projects as well plug ours a little.

Here’s the line up of people we will be talking to (as far as I can tell you so far) – some of the cast and crew of The Fallen One, an upcoming grindhouse style film starring Jake The Snake Roberts and Fred Williamson, directed by Rick Vasquez and produced by Michael Rodriguez. We will also talk in more detail to Jessica Cameron and Dave Reda. I also got in touch with the star of one of the movies being showcased at the Expo and he has agreed to sit down with us for at least 5 minutes to discuss his projects. I can’t say who it is yet but we are excited about it.

Brian and I have been doing a lot of work to make The Gorram Nerd Hour a lot of fun to listen to and make sure you enjoy it. We would love to hear your feedback. Stop by http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com or http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour and let is know what you think. Also, don’t forget to check out http://facebook.com/TheCristosSaga to find out what is happening with Lepus. Or go to http://facebook.com/RobotVampireProductions to read about everything we are doing.

The Gorram Nerd Hour

Ladies and gentlemen,

Brian Smith and I have been picked up by Abnormal Entertainment to do a weekly podcast called The Gorram Nerd Hour. Each week we will be reviewing a B grade genre film from past or present. This weeks episode we reviewed the 80’s classic Night Of The Creeps starring Tom Atkins and Jason Lively. We also talk about movie and television news, comic books and whatever else comes up.

We are very happy to have been included in the Abnormal Entertainment family. They have been putting on The Atomic Fallout Society for some time now with our friends Tony and David Sabal who later added Brian into the mix. Kevin Moyers and Camm Harston have said some very kind things about our first show we did independently and decided to pick us up after that. We are very grateful.

Very soon we are starting production on our short film, Lepus, and we plan to do a show from the wrap party and have some of the cast and crew on. In the meantime Brian and I are compiling a list of B movies to watch and review. So far we know we will be reviewing Jessicka Rabid, They Live, C.H.U.D., and a few others with our own brand of snark and appreciation for the art of making enjoyable bad movies. Those who have followed this blog know I love these types of films and I am so glad we have an outlet to share it with the rest of you.

Head on over tohttp://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com and give it a listen. Also make sure to go “like” our Facebook pages http://facebook.com/RobotVampireProductions, http://facebook.com/TheCristosSaga, and http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour. We’d love to hear your feedback.