SWAMP KILLER – the Journey
Busy Busy Busy! Last month’s big news was the creation of the creature’s mask. This month we…
- welcomed famed grindhouse film icon Bill Grefe to our production
- brought on board Nick Simmons (from Terminator Genesys) to don the creature’s mask
- brought on board a very talented Art Director to assist our Production Designer Joe Fernandez in making a kickass creature wardrobe, as well as helping me develop a cool “grindhouse” minimalist poster
- shot 4 scenes for the Swamp Killer concept trailer
- launched Swamp Killer website
- developed our first artwork – preliminary poster and film logo
- started planning a crowdfunding campaign to be launched late July
- booked my trip to AFM (American Film Market) in November where I’ll be meeting with sales agents, production partners and worldwide distributors
- booked my August trip to Colorado Springs to spend a few days with famed script coach Linda Seger.
Here, let me elaborate….
Thanks to one of our lead actors Michael Jacques, we had the honor of Bill Grefe joining our production in a cameo role. For those of you that don’t know Bill, he is one of the most renegade ‘independent’ filmmakers in American history. A true legend. The Godfather of Grindhouse.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez pay homage to this man. Bill often hosts Tarantino’s Grindhouse Film Festival in LA. Swamp Killer is in part influenced by the exploitation films of Bill Grefe.
Nick Simmons, talented SAG / Creature actor (Terminator Genesys, Burn Notice) is our creature!
Nick did a great job testing out the mask, made out of a real wild hog skull. I absolutely loved the creature. I hated the outfit. Revelation: We need to go pro on this. Joe was up to the task, but his heavy travel requirements really put a damper on our timing goals. We need a pro outfit by the crowdfunding launch in July and before I meet with world renowned scrip coach Linda Seger in August. Seemed impossible.
Then something really weird happened…
DESIGN. Out of the blues I get an email from an aspiring production designer looking for her first professional gig. I told her our creature wardrobe needs and how I was inspired by the cool outfits in the Mad Max universe. We set a date to meet. Joe and I were pleasantly surprised when she whipped out her production board filled with concept ideas and thought out notes. After an hour and a half spitting ideas back and forth she got the job! We welcomed Alycia Ciresi to Red Rocket films. We trust her first pro gig on this Swamp Killer project will be mutually beneficial. To top it off, she appeared to be a whiz at graphic design as well (ie, poster art). We loved her minimalist grindhouse concept art ideas and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next month!
The following was shot and cut this past month for these reasons…
- I wanted/needed to get a feel for the film, the characters, the environment, the vibe as I sit down to craft the screenplay.
- The best is yet to come. From these clips and additional footage no one has seen yet… I’m cutting a concept trailer that will knock your sox off. It stars some great talent like Michael Jacques (Burn Notice), Nick Simmons (Terminator), William Grefe (the Godfather of grindhouse), Angel Salazar (“Chi Chi” from Scarface and Carlito’s Way), and many more.
- The resulting concept trailer (which you’ll hopefully see next month) will be seen by key industry folks, and will be included in our business plan as well as in our crowdfunding campaign, with the goal of raising sufficient funds to make a great film.
This scene where my character is being chased in the swamps wasn’t supposed to happen. We were all set for a biker fight scene in the afternoon at Lucky Cole’s Outpost in Big Cypress. We decided to check out some locations deeper in the swamps for a future shoot. It’s a good thing Joe suggested I bring my character’s outfit because we ended up doing this test chase sequence on a lark! We’re known for skeleton crewing our sets. This was done with Joe, me, and our two guides George Mercado and Mike Brown; all in about an hour. Which is why I hate big crews as they tend to slow things down. I guess for certain scenes you do need a large crew, but I just can’t fathom why so many film sets are wrought with a ton of people behind the scenes for simple shoots!
This biker fight scene was initially just to be a couple of cool action moves, that’s it. But when Lucky Cole put the word out that we needed a few real bikers as background, a whole lot of them showed up. So we expanded the fight scene on the spot. I figured these guys wanted to see a good fight. I was kinda feeling that if we didn’t deliver, a real fight may have broken out. So we fought. Hard. The guy I brought in to fight my character (Andre Fiallos) is a real champion martial artist. In fact he’s one of the guys on Team USA heading out to Ireland this August for a “big deal” international tournament. He’s got more trophies than I have weeds in my back yard. He was great. Well, maybe too great as it took my bruised ribs just about 5 weeks to heal. You see, I wanted a realistic brawl. I wanted the camera to capture the lint flying off my body as he punched me in the gut. For real. Don’t hold back. We didn’t. The next day his arms were black and blue and I couldn’t laugh, cough or sneeze without screaming like a 9 year old girl riding Tower of Terror in Disney. But I think it was worth it. What do you guys think?
Oh, and phenomenal Steddiecam work by Claudio Bory!
This scene was 100% inspired from this Bill Grefe poster. I thought it was so cool to have a biker chic shooting a 357 on a Harley! So we did it! And it will be in the film.
I call these dailies “Film Crew In deep Shit” for obvious reasons.
Nice story behind these shots…. weather turned sour real fast with thunder and lightening forecast all day.
A crew member called me about cancelling and I said we’re shooting rain or shine. Do you know how expensive it is to bring in this kind of inclement weather to a film set in your typical Hollywood production? And here we’re getting it for free! Well it was wet, yet it was great. It added a really cool vibe to the scene. I’m just not sure how the hell we’re gonna replicate this next year. But we’ll manage. We always do.
The Swamp Killer website is up! What do you think?
Swamp Killer will be pure Grindhouse pulp fun! There will be bikers, babes, gore, humor, and plenty of HEART.
Grindhouse elements will bring folks to the screen. Yet that’s not enough for us. We want you to leave with something… To feel you didn’t just spend 90 forgettable minutes of your lives experiencing a mere entertaining romp in the theatre. We want you to scream, to laugh, to cry, to “feel.” With that said, I’m spending a few days consulting with Linda Seger in her Colorado study late Summer. Linda is a world renowned script coach whose clientele include Peter Jackson, William Kelley, Ray Bradbury, and Roland Emmerich. Linda is endorsed by the likes of Ron Howard. Swamp Killer won’t be just mindless action and gore scenes strung together. It will have Heart. It will have Story. (One secret we can reveal is that it will have elements from The Phantom of the Opera. Now, how cool is that?!)
Since I need to decompress now and then, my wife is flying into Colorado Springs on the last day of my meet with Linda. We’ll spend several days mini-vacationing in Colorado. I’ll try to squeeze in a few hours of rock climbing as well.
“The American Film Market (AFM) is the premiere global marketplace where Hollywood’s decision-makers and trendsetters all gather under one roof. AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed. In just eight days, more than $1 billion in deals will be sealed — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production — making AFM the must-attend industry event.”
Just booked my trip to AFM in November! There is so much to do before then…
- set up crowdfunding,
- develop business plan
- develop pitch decks,
- meet with attorneys,
- cut the concept trailer,
- arrive at final key art (ie, official poster)
- interview a few Public Relations outfits,
- write a teatment
- August meet with Linda Seger,
- finalize the screenplay
- cast the film
- attract some cool “known/name” actors to the project,
- bring key crew on board, such as line producer and DP
- research ARRI camera packages
- trade my 2 door coupe in for a truck or 4 door jeep with roof mounts (gonna need the space!)
- scope some more locations in the swamps,
- come up with a cool outfit for the creature
- send SK package to sales agents and distributors to set up meets at AFM
- oh, and shoot the last scene of our short Celestial Cowboys. The first cut is good and very funny. The reason I shot Celestial Cowboys and Shotgun earlier this year, is to showcase to industry folks what we can do with a minimal budget.
I already told my wife there will be no “balance” from me this year. But she’s great. Couldn’t do this without her moral support. Trying to see if she’ll fly into Santa Monica on the tail end of AFM.
Writing these monthly updates helps me focus on the tasks at hand for the next 5 months or so. Thanks for “listening in” and for joining us on our Journey!
If anyone would like to be involved in this project please hit me up. Particularly if you have any marketing experience or have done crowdfunding work in the past. We can definitely use your talents I’m sure!
Until Next Time!
Don’t forget… all of Life’s answers can be found in the movies – if you know how to look.
Have a great day!