Hello again, and welcome back to “I Was a D.I.Y. Zombie.”  So if you read my last installment awhile back (I was a D.I.Y. Zombie), we left you on the very edge of your seats wondering things like, “huh- that was nifty…but so what?” and, “hey- did that thing ever get finished?”  Well, now that we’re all back together, we’ll answer some of these burning questions and take you through the D.I.Y. process that will now become the pipeline for my new web-series, “Ask a Zombie.”

Hollywood ombiesFirst, go check it out and come right back… well maybe watch it a bunch of times from fifteen different computers, post it all over your Face-Twitter social networks and old-school email it to everyone in your office/ school (lord knows we could use the views).

http://youtu.be/m4ORFGJ79Dk

Back?  Good, now tell me how much you loved it.  What? You didn’t watch it yet?!!  Listen, this ain’t Junior College and I ain’t your underpaid State College system refugee who has to teach a slacker classroom that didn’t bother to do the assigned reading.  Do you homework!

Ok now.  Let’s begin:

We shot the zombie footage first- in fact we actually shot three different answers to three different questions on that same night.  Those answers were to be the basis of three different episodes so as not to kill the face of our long suffering Zombie who had to endure the D.I.Y. makeup session documented in Part 1.

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Get Your Project Done for Nothing and Your Actors for Free.( Read Part 1 Now )

I’m going to start this article out by stating, up front, for all to see, with no reservations, and only the best intentions, that actors are interesting cats.  Oh Crap… That’s how I started Part 1 of this!

Part 2 – PRODUCTION

Now, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a table read or two, but if you’re luckier, you’ll get your actors to show up to the first shoot date, on time, on the right day, and ready to go. Warning: on the first day, at least one actor will be late. You will be sitting at the meeting place or set/location with the other actors and the crew and the urgent need to have an aneurism just to relieve the tension.  Ten messages on their cell phone do not summon them to appear and you will start to completely melt down.

actress is hotI suggest you melt down later. You need to be calm, confident, and keep your cast and crew busy.  The crew can set up the first shot so it’s ready to go when your errant actor decides that fashion has been served and it is time to make that late appearance. You can also figure out which shots you can do quickly in the meantime without that actor and knock ‘em out ASAFP. Do not engage in the resentful bashing that will metastasize among the on-time actors. No one hates a late actor more than an on-time actor- not even you. Don’t stoke that fire or it will be acres wide by the time the late-boat shows up.

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Get Your Project Done for Nothing and Your Actors for Free!
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I’m going to start this article out by stating, up front, for all to see, with no reservations, and only the best intentions, that actors are interesting cats.  Many of you readers (all three) are out there in the Coliseum of your Schadenfreude (yep- had to look it up to make sure it meant what I thought it meant: deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others), screaming down into the pit for me throw every high maintenance actor you’ve ever encountered to the lions in hopes of a quick and bloody end . Sorry Caesar- no go.  It’s not that kind of party.

actors

Drawing by: nullcherri

Actors are interesting cats. I will say it like that in a fair and balanced manner.  You see, as a DIY filmmaker, I am always in the position of asking actors for the generous contribution of their time and energy.  You may say that “actor time” differs from “real time,” but we’ll stay off that path.  This little blurb is about how to handle actors when they have only the obligation of their word to make them show up and give you that funny little thing called, “acting.” It’s that little thing that will keep you away from stop motion animation and/ or endless shots of cars driving to nowhere you will have to use to finish your piece.

Repeat after me, “no one should ever have to attempt another ‘Battleship Potemkin.’”

Pre-production:

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The Art of DIY Camouflage: Guerrilla Filmmaker 101
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Ok, it’s the Greater Metropolitan Area. You have just about no budget, but you need to get out there and shoot.  As I explained in my previous article ( “diy-filmmaking-la-film-permit” ) the City of Los Angeles and its surrounding area demands film permits for just about every place that is not a studio or studio lot and/or visible by satellite.  Technically, you even have to have a film permit to shoot in your own house or apartment, whether or not you own said fortress of solitude. They want their blood money and they want it even if it shuts your production down (just like every nasty parasite, it kills the host).

Camera Camo

Can You See Me Now? How About Now?

Much like the gazelles in the African savanna, you have to blend in and not bring attention to yourself.  You don’t want the lions to eat you.  Here are a few tips on shooting entire scenes in public without getting shut down by “the Man” or snotty (aka jealous) onlookers who are “tired of that damn Hollywood crowd making nuisances of themselves and disturbing the peace.”

Small crews:

Large crews with many cars are a wonderful luxury, but are actually counterproductive to the “get in, shoot, get out” scenario.  In general, the more you look like a “professional” production, the more likely you will be hassled by a

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So you wanna do a zombie picture? Long or short, it sounds like a breeze: just get a bunch of your friends together to shuffle around town like they’re doing the walk of shame after a twelve hour severe alcohol poisoning incident.  Make sure the clothes are ratty and that they moan loudly at the pain of Living Death, especially when being exposed to harsh sunlight without shades.  Zombies don’t squint, y’all- so your actors will be blind and monosyllabic by the end of the day- a method acting happy accident.

DIYDone- easy- but… what if you need closeups? What if you need to see zombies that are about a week old and not looking their freshest?  “Oh- no problem- we just need makeup, “ you think, assuming that your own makeup skills or those of your girlfriend/ emo boyfriend will be strong enough to deliver the goods. About an hour into heavy eyeliner, rouge, and pancake makeup, you make peace with the fact that you’re just not going to have any close-ups and smoky eyed zombies are just going to have to do.

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Do you need a permit to shoot in L.A.?

Appropriately (I say “appropriately ,” to draw an unflattering comparison between the idea of a permit to film and a bloodsucking vampire), my first experience in LA with these strange little pieces of paper called, “film permits,” was in a graveyard near the UCLA campus.

A friend of mine from school was taking a photography class and wanted to shoot some black and white stills in the graveyard like most film students do once they find out there’s a national cemetery within walking distance of campus. She wanted it to shoot “sort of a period narrative about a man hanging out with lost friends… or something” and I was the only one she knew with a bowler hat and a bowtie. Needless to say, I got the job.

LA Film permitsOf course, we had no money, no crew, and no gear other than her 35mm still camera. I mention this to stress our overall inconspicuousness and harmless look about us as I stood by or gently leaned on old tombstones while she took quiet pictures with no flash. We were nearly alone out there and the day was perfectly cloudy – natural light, better than any bounce board or diffuser box.

After we had taken about ten shots in this lovely morbid

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