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Confessions of a Working Director - 2/9/2009


Our most recent day of shooting, January 17, was our final "official" day on Ratline, though we do have a few more pickup days scheduled here and there through spring.  On January 17, we completed some complex special fx shots for the ending of the movie.

Jason Christ has complained in the past that he acts in all these horror movies, but never gets gory enough, in his opinion.  Ratline has certainly corrected that wrong by drenching Jason in blood quite often.  January 17 was an especially blood-soaked day of shooting for him.  

Back in December, we spent three nights shooting dusk 'til dawn in a city park in Hermann, MO to complete the ending of the movie.  It was freezing outside, and it even sleeted on the final night.  So all of the cast and crew were uncomfortable and exhausted.  Jason had it worse than anyone, as he endured the cold with a constant supply of fresh blood being splattered on him.  Special fx work always makes a shooting unit move slow - that's just a byproduct of achieving those kinds of shots - but the arctic temperatures and the fatigue that settled in from shooting nights made things go even slower.  We didn't get all the shots.  So, on January 17, we got Jason gory again to finish shooting Ratline's finale.

With every shot requiring some kind of special effect, the night went long.  FX man Jim Wayer and his squad of assistants did a great job all evening, but even the most efficient fx team can't change the fact that special fx are time consuming.  That is the nature of the beast.  After many grueling hours of being soaked in sticky gore, I think Jason was dreaming of next starring in a nice, blood-free romantic comedy.

In other Ratline news, I want to direct your attention to a young lady named Jessie Seitz.  She is a producer on Ratline, she plays a small part in the flick, and she pitched in to help in the art department.

Jessie co-wrote the story with me on Deadwood Park, and she also functioned as an associate producer and the production designer on that shoot.

Jessie leads something of a double life.  Sometimes, she is a responsible, hard working motion picture producer.  And sometimes, she is an alternative / goth / punk / pin-up model and actress by the name of Nos.  Under the Nos name, she has acted in a variety of horror / exploitation movies, and she has appeared in the pages of Gothic Beauty and Bizarre Magazine.

Check out Nos's Celebrity Blog over at Scars Magazine: 

Because Ratline is transitioning from production to post-production, I took the opportunity to scram for a 3 day break from all the chaos at Wicked Pixel Cinema.  I'd actually saved my George W. Bush 600 dollar handout back when all of America received their economic stimulus checks.  And with that 600 bucks and a single tank of gas, I enjoyed a relaxing, quiet three days away...

Our first destination on the agenda was the Bonne Terre Mine, in Bonne Terre, Missouri.  This is a mammoth abandoned lead mine (covering 80 square miles on five levels) that operated from 1865 to 1962.  Because the miners breached a natural spring, the mine started filling up with water.  Now, only the top two levels of the mine are above water.  Old miners' gear, railroad tracks, ore carts, and other items - including a steam locomotive - abandoned by the St. Joseph Lead Company rest in a watery grave, submerged in billions of gallons of water.  Our tour of the mine was amazing.  It was really spooky, riding in a boat knowing you are a quarter mile underground, and the water beneath you is another two hundred feet deep.

While in town, we also checked out Bonne Terre's Space Museum.  I wasn't expecting much from this small-town roadside museum, especially since the admission price was only $5.  Turns out, this is an amazing place, jam-packed with space stuff from NASA and other space-exploration organizations around the world.  There is an impressive collection of vintage space-themed toys and lunch boxes too.  The museum even displays items that have been to the moon's surface and back, including a small American flag carried by astronaut Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17).  The museum was genuinely fascinating and I highly recommend you check it out if you are ever in the area.

We also enjoyed a visit to the National Tiger Sanctuary in Bloomsdale, Missouri.  I've never been so close to adult tigers, and I don't think I ever realized just how damn huge they are.  It really was cool being just feet away from such beautiful, deadly, and fascinating creatures.

To finish off the road trip, we saw two movies, My Bloody Valentine in 3-D (very awesome) and Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (also very awesome - for very different reasons, of course).

Before heading back to work, I also took time to check out a new project by Alan Rowe Kelly, director of I'll Bury You Tomorrow, and The Blood Shed.  Alan is currently working on an anthology film, and he sent me a rough cut of the first segment.  The anthology is called Gallery of Fear and the segment he sent me is called A Far Cry From Home.  Even in rough cut form, I was impressed.  A Far Cry From Home immediately won me over by being in that excellent horror sub-genre of "terrorized by backwoods hillbilly Christians."  Of course, Alan gives the premise his own unique spin.  The acting is great, and the piece is very vicious and gory.  Outstanding stuff.

I'd recently seen Blood Shed, but it had been a few years since I'd seen I'll Bury You Tomorrow, so I checked that movie out again.  I liked I'll Bury You Tomorrow even more upon second viewing.  Alan's work is inventive, energetic, well-crafted, and completely fucked up.  If you have not seen them yet, be sure to check out I'll Bury You Tomorrow and The Blood Shed soon!  Alan is one of the most daring and talented directors working in the indie film trenches today.

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze