Blessings And Curses – Lepus At Phoenix Comicon


Last night we premiered Lepus at Phoenix Comicon. We were able to show it twice. The first time was as part of Death By VHS, the anthology DVD it is a part of. The second time was a little later that night at a cast and crew panel we arranged.

The reception was great. People really seemed to get it. They laughed in all the right spots. I’d say they cried but we didn’t make a movie for people to cry. So if they did I wasn’t aware of it nor would I appreciate it. We had a few people in the audience actually catch some of the more subtle religious refrences and everyone loved watching Brian as a creepy Easter Bunny. His first appearence just walking got a laugh.

I feel really happy that everyone liked it. And it is a blessing that we have distribution. But that’s also the curse. Because of distribution we are automatically disqualified from submitting to several film festivals. That makes me sad. I would love to send it out all over the place and see what kind of response we get.

I guess we’ll have to wait until we do Terrestrial for that. Watch for the panel we did to be posted on YouTube in the coming days or weeks or whenever it goes up. Also, listen to The Gorram Nerd Hour on Wednesday for more details.
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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.

A Study In Technique


While doing the auditions for Lepus last week Kelsee Benson got a bit nervous. She has never been around professional actors and felt intimidated running lines with them during the audition. After it was over and I took her home she pulled me aside. She asked me, “Geek (that’s a nickname I got saddled with when she was a baby and couldn’t say Jake), what am I supposed to be doing? I haven’t ever done anything like this before.”

Kelsee goes to a performing arts school. She’s used to stage work, singing and dancing mostly. She’s very confidant on stage but cameras are another story. I told her I would come back on Friday and we could go through the script and I would help her get comfortable.

I got to her house on Friday and first had to remove a refrigerator, install another one, jump my sister’s car battery, and suffer through watching The Voice before I finally got to work with Kelsee. As we sat there going through the script I could see the talent coming through. She has one problem – she can change her voice to express emotion but her face stays the same. It took some time but I got her to be more expressive. I had her use body language and I kept telling her to use her eyebrows more, just not as much as the stupid kid on the original 90210 who was David’s friend and accidentally killed himself when he dropped his dad’s gun.

After working on Kelsee’s expressiveness I had her try doing the frightened run she needs to do for the end of the short film. She’s supposed to run up to the sheriff to get him to stop the Easter Bunny. As she was running she kept looking like she was smiling. Finally, I got her to open her mouth and raise her eyebrows and she had a perfect look on her face where she looked scared but it was also very funny. I called her mother outside to watch the frightened run and she agreed. It is a perfect look and a slightly funny run that she does and completely sells it. She’s going to do great.

Lepus Casting Update


We have made our decisions on three of the key roles for Lepus. I can’t wait to announce them. The others are very tough. We are going to have to watch the audition tapes a few more times to decide.

I am so excited to start shooting this thing. The people we saw were absolutely amazing. They all brought something very unique to the roles they tried for. We had a blast the other watching them perform for us. If I had my way I would put every single one of them in the movie somewhere.

One person who auditioned was so funny, in fact, that we offered him the role after everyone else left. We didn’t even want to wait. He was just so perfect in the part. It may only be four lines but you guys will want more after you see him. And, if all goes according to plan, we will give you more in the proposed trilogy.

Two of the others have already been contacted and offered their respective parts. Before we make any official announcements I want to have the cast set. Hopefully you’ll hear about it soon on http://facebook.com/RobotVampireProductions.

The Little Short Film That Could


When Brian and I first talked about doing Lepus it was out of frustration. We had been trying unsuccessfully to get Welcome To Deadsville going. That’s a feature and would require actual money. After hitting our fair share of brick walls we decided to try and write a few short films.

One night while sitting at the kitchen table we started trying to make each other laugh by throwing out ridiculous ideas. Easter bunny, Jesus, steel dildo, chicken costumes, and the like all came up. The next day I sat down and wrote six pages. After that Brian and I sat and wrote out the remaining pages together. We never revised it. He showed it to a mutual friend who thought it was hilarious. He has cameras and experience and wanted to he involved. We were up and running just like that.

When we wrote Lepus we figured it would be a friends and family kind of production. There were roles for six kids. My sister has five who would fit the bill and they all want to either act, sing or dance so it was perfect. We still needed one more who looked old enough to be in high school but young enough to look like she would be friends with the female lead. My other sister has a daughter who was just a little too young.

For other roles we thought we could cast some other friends but they didn’t have any interest in acting. Suddenly we realized we would have to find the actors elsewhere. Thank God for stage32.com and finding that site months ago. There was a huge number of local actors on there. I was able to reach out and find quite a few that way.

Here’s the funny thing – a short that we expected to be a small thing has suddenly grown into something much larger. A woman on Facebook who runs a group for casting calls in Arizona found out about us. She posted something on her page. We have potential international DVD distribution for the short. Our Facebook page for Robot Vampire Productions had gone from 6 likes one day to 55 the next. It’s enough to add some stress, for sure. Yes, I have directed things before but they were always backyard productions starring friends when we were kids or things for school, never something like this. The idea of actually having something that went from a goofy idea we expected very few people to see to suddenly having so many potential viewers and a DVD release at Phoenix Comicon has added some pressure to say the least.

I have been spending the day doing some storyboards for the production. All I can do is be as prepared as possible. Last night the reality sunk in a bit for Brian too. Both of us are very excited and a little scared. Let’s hope all goes well.

And don’t forget to like our Facebook page – http://facebook.com/RobotVampireProductions

A Quick Update On Lepus


It seems that we will he shooting Lepus, our first short film, in the third week of October. As we are shooting this with little to no money we wanted to take advantage of the Halloween season and shoot when people have already decorated for it.

So far I have been able to secure actors for many of the major roles. I have already shown the picture of Brian Smith to you all. He is playing the Lepus in our film. The rest of the cast is listed below with question marks next to the open roles –

Sheriff Cristos (aka Jesus) – ?
Lepus – Brian Smith
Jamie – Kelsee Benson
Victim #1 – Tracie Knittel
Mary – ?
Zelda – Cherith Pruitt
Ruth – ?
Farmer – ?
Deputy Beckett – ?
Coroner – ?
Tommy – Brennen Benson
Kid On Tricycle – Sierra Benson
Two Dead Boys – Kyle Benson, Corbin Benson
Sexy Nurse – ?

You may have noticed several names in the cast are Benson. They are family, all nieces and nephews. Strangely, I didn’t write it for them but happened to notice that it just worked out that way. Kelsee is the perfect age for Jamie. The other kids are more featured extras than anything else. The boys get killed without ever speaking. Sierra just rides around on a tricycle singing a weird nursery rhyme about the Lepus. And Brennen plays a 10 year old who is throwing a party for high schoolers while sneaking into the bedroom with a sexy nurse old enough to be his mom.

We have a few people who are local that we want to fill the roles of Sheriff Cristos, Deputy Beckett, the coroner, and the sexy nurse. I hope we are able to get them to agree to make the short.

We are trying to sweeten the pot to get our Sheriff Cristos by offering the role of three short films. We already have Ded Moroz planned out. There will be a third story, one that ends the madness once and for all. Once all is said and done we should have about an hour long trilogy.

In other Lepus related news – we have been guaranteed a spot on the DVD that is being planned to showcase local shorts. It will have worldwide distribution and a huge push at Phoenix Comicon. We here at Robot Vampire Productions are very excited. The man putting the DVD together has read the script and really liked it. Now we just need to make sure that he likes the finished product just as much.

Ded Moroz – A Sequel To Lepus


I was kicking around ideas of writing a sequel to something mainly just to see what we could do with it. After having a fun experience writing Lepus and Terrestrial Brian and I wanted to have another short film we could make. I had an idea for a sequel to Lepus.

Given that Lepus takes place on Halloween and has to do with the Easter Bunny I thought it would be fun to make the sequel set at Easter with a copycat killer dressed as Santa Claus. It would afford us the opportunity to still have the town sheriff dressed as Jesus fighting these killers. This time the sheriff has the role of Jesus in his church’s Easter Pagent when he’s called upon to fight Santa.

The tone will still be the same where we shoot it like an experimental German art film and fill it with weird jokes and homages to previous horror films. When Brian and I discussed it last night we both saw a lot of potential in continuing the story in this way. Plus we both wanted to experiment with writing a sequel, even if it is just a short film.

Writing Experiment #1


A few years ago I had talked a friend into writing a short story based on the first line of the first paragraph I gave him. He could write about anything he chose based on that line. I used the same line and wrote a story of my own. Then we compared. It was a fun experiment.

Next I suggested we write short stories based on two completely random ideas. He would choose one, I would choose the other. Then we would go off and write our stories based on that idea. The two ideas were as follows – “a man fights his way out of a maximum security prison in space” and “a man is in search of pirate treasure off the coast of Florida”. It was fun trying to find a way to marry a real world idea with one of science fiction.

The next concept was that we each wrote the first paragraph of a short story and the other person had to come up with a story to fit it. My friend never wrote his. It was a shame that he didn’t because I wanted to see what he would have done with a paragraph about a man who believed bird poop was good luck and was trying to get hit. Oh well.

I decided to dust off the idea of doing a writing exercise with my screenwriting partner. I suggested we each come up with a crazy idea five words or less, tell each other the ideas and write a short film about them together. I’m interested what will happen given that without the exercise we have come up with a short film about Jesus Vs. The Easter Bunny and another one about a man who believes he has an alien living in his closet.

I’ll keep you posted with the results. We are gonna brainstorm it tonight.

Lepus


My writing partner and I were trying to think of a crazy horror short film we could shoot for cheap and start submitting to the festival circuit. We were standing in the kitchen trying to think of some messed up ideas. What we came up with is probably crazier than we would actually do.

The short would be called Lepus (latin for rabbit) and would center around a town at Halloween. A man dressed as the Easter bunny is going around killing people. One method would be to use a steel dildo (a nod to George Carlin from his bit about crazy people). The town sheriff belongs to a Westboro Baptist Church style cult and is picketing a Halloween party his daughter is attending while he is dressed as Jesus. He is hiding a cross shaped shotgun in picket sign. When he and the Easter bunny meet it is a bloodbath of epic proportions.

We talked about having all the dialogue in Klingon with English subtitles and we would shoot it like a German art film. All the picket signs would be written in Chinese but any numbers would be written in Roman numerals.

I’m starting to wonder if there was a gas leak in the house that was making us think in a really crazy way. Why would we think this is a good idea?