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).


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.

Lessons learned at this shoot:

1-     Even if you think you’re really only going to need a few hours to do such a simple setup and shoot (each scene was one moving shot), you’re going to need more time than you think.  There were only three people (including myself) and two of us were acting, so we figured it would go lickiddy-split.  Makeup took about an hour and a half.  We hadn’t really rehearsed, so there were multiples of multiple takes.  Ghetto vultures- I mean, helicopters started to fly around us, becoming more frequent the closer we got to the end.  All in all it was about six hours.  WHAT?!!!!

2-     A tired zombie is a grumpy zombie who grows increasingly hard on himself and thirsty.  The later it got, the more the zombie started forgetting his lines and the more annoyed with himself he became.  This was where the cameraman and I had to keep our attitudes super-positive and give him all the encouragement our own tired and grumpy souls could offer.  Also, because he had so much makeup on and it was a balmy night, I made sure he had lots of water and a straw to gulp it through.  Makeup coming off of your lips and  into your drinking water is pretty nasty.  Next time, I’m going to get him a fan and some juice boxes.

3-     Never think you’re going to get good behind the scenes footage on your smart phone without a fight.  I gave my Droid to my wife to shoot some behind the scenes footage and she shot a good bit.  As a crew, we became very boring to talk to (we didn’t really know what to say while we were setting up) so she went inside to watch the “Undead Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Oh wait- they’re still alive?!  Wow- but that one is so GAUNT.  Off the subject- sorry.  When I went to load the footage into my non-linear editing system (NLE) a day later, I realized that the dumb camera phone only shot in 50p- that’s 50 frames per second.  We were shooting the 1st unit  in 24p (24 frames per second), so the transcoding of the footage from 50p to 24p was not especially good (no fault of my wife) and looked fairly choppy.  When I looked at our particular brand of set banter in the content portion of the footage, my mind was made up: right-click- “remove from project” – “yes.”  The footage from the last post was actually captured on the cameraman’s personal still camera with 24p capability, so it looked a lot better and the makeup stuff was more interesting anyway.

The second half the project- the question asking half- actually did take only a short amount of time.  The “father of the pregnant teen” was a quick shoot that I did at work on my lunch break.  I simply brought my camera into work, gave the guy a few minutes to memorize the lines, and did a couple of takes a couple of different ways.  Easy – peesey.  We went very quickly and now all the “father” has to worry about is the fact that, in real life, he does have a daughter, but she’s only five years old.  Let’s hope his in-laws don’t know about YouTube.

To date, we’ve shot another question for another one of the answers that I have yet to edit.  That one was done the same way against a different backdrop, with a different person, but over lunch at work, once again.  That part of the pipeline is solid, as long as I don’t lose my job… wait, I hope my boss isn’t reading this… hi?

The good thing about this process is that now that I’ve built the cards/transitions, recorded the music, and cut together the Undeadware.com commercial at the end, I can drop in the different questions and answers very easily.  The assembly will now be a breeze and, assuming we all stay hydrated and happy, we should be able to pop out episodes rather quickly.  Go Team Ask A Zombie!

Now comes the hard part:  getting YouTube views…. Can I bribe you with more blogs for more views… or will that have the opposite effect.  Maybe the opposite…  Well then- GO ASK A ZOMBIE!!!

Vlad Peters – DIY Filmmaker

Leave a Reply