FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

May 8, 2009

so i made a movie, part five

I recently made a short horror film called Ludlow, starring Shannon Lark and Elissa Dowling. I thought I'd share all the boring details about how that came to be, know...sharing is caring and if there's one I thing I do, it's care. Part one of the saga is here, part two is here, part three is here, and part four is here.

The alarm went off at 5:30am. I opened my eyes and saw the overhead light was on. Power had come once again to Ludlow! I sat up, a big, goofy grin on my face, and- being the nerd I am- literally gasped aloud with glee. However, I restrained myself from clasping my hands to my cheeks all moony-eyed style. I looked over at Shannon to see if she shared my excitement, but she was still passed out. Why wouldn’t she be? It was 5:30 in the fucking morning!

By 9am we were rolling and we never looked back. I realize this is all in sharp contrast to the first two days of our undertaking, but we really encountered no problems at all on Thursday. Lemme tell ya, it was really fucking nice.
SHANNON LARK: I couldn't believe it! I was half expecting an airplane to crash through the roof, or something. This feeling made me haul ass and concentrate like my life depended on it.
you have no idea how effing hot it was outside

We shot outside in the blazing sun, we shot inside making day-for-night…we cranked and cranked and cranked, not stopping until about 4:30pm or so when my other actors- Elissa Dowling and Ned Christensen- showed up on set. I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out what a superstar Ned is; maybe you recognize his name from Ghostella’s Haunted Tomb, as he provided me with a good portion of the music found throughout the series. But he has a regular, rather fancy-schmancy job, and I know that driving all the way out to Ludlow after work- only to turn around and drive back that night so he could work the next morning- is something…you know, not just anyone would do. He’s as rare as a unicorn, that one.

Bearing in mind Ned’s time constraints, we cranked out all of scenes as quickly as we good. Lots and lots of violence, lots and lots of blood, lots and lots of awesomeness. Shannon had some extremely intense work to do, and she did it amazingly. I was happy that Ludlow was finally giving us a break, and I couldn’t have been happier with what I was seeing through the camera lens.

no one tried the French Dip, despite its famousness

We finished up with Ned around 11pm and he high-tailed it back to Los Angeles. We continued to work after he’d gone; scenes with Shannon and Elissa outside the motel, scenes with Shannon screaming inside the motel…and of course by this time of night, the motel was in fact full up. At one point, we got some neighbors- a woman who didn’t look a day under 70 and another woman who could have only been her mother. I went over to warn them about what was going on, that unfortunately there’d be a bit of yelling and blood, but we were making a movie so there was no cause for alarm. Their response?

“Oh, alright. We’ll keep the TV turned down low so we don’t bother you.”

I swear, my eyes welled up; it’s stupid but I get that way when people are inordinately sweet and nice and kind. I clarified that I wasn’t asking them to be quiet at all, and I somehow resisted the urge to, in the onset of my late-night delirium, give the grannies a hug.

We finally called it a night around 1am and stayed up a while longer to sort of process- we’d finally managed to get a day in with no problems. Granted, it was an incredibly long day, but we were under the wire. Is that a saying? I have no idea. We were somewhere around the wire, at any rate, somewhere in its vicinity, trying to cram a lot of work into not a lot of time. As much as we’d accomplished on Thursday, we still had about 15 scenes left to shoot on Friday. That’s…kind of a lot. Some time around 2, as I was finally drifting off to sleep, Shannon quietly muttered the last words of the day:

“Wud up, Ludlow??”
SHANNON LARK: Not before I crammed Miso soup down Stacie's face. We realized we hadn't really eaten all day, except for those pepperoncinis topped with peanut butter...and some toasted seaweed.
Up again and cranking by 8am, we just kept on doing our thing. Our thing went all crazy kick ass like; you’ll be pleased to know that everything went as smoothly as could be expected- YOU WILL BE PLEASED I SAY. Ludlow and fortune continued to smile upon us: the power stayed on, the Chevron kept the free coffee and water flowin’, and I kept the blood flowin’. We worked and we worked and then when we got tired, we worked some more.

the pink sunglasses with the spinning pearls make everyone cool

I combined a few scenes in the interests of flow and…you know, time, which was a wee bit scarce as Shannon was due to fly out of Los Angeles at 4pm on Saturday. I rewrote some stuff on the fly and would hand scenes off for a bit of rehearsal while I organized my thoughts and changed my shot lists. It was exhausting and exhilarating; the biggest change I made was in the very last scene, where Krista has a large monologue. Due to the work we’d been doing, to my directing and to the way Shannon had been playing the character up to that point, the monologue really didn’t make sense by the time we got around to shooting it. The character was in a different place than I’d anticipated when I wrote the script, and she simply wouldn’t say the things I had her saying. The tone was far different than I intended- in fact, it was better. All the changes I made were for the better, and in the end there were more than a few- and Shannon just rolled with it. She learned new lines and got on with it. It was an amazing collaborative effort and no matter the end result (HOLY CRAPPING CRAP I HOPE IT’S GOOD), it was an incredibly rewarding process.

When I said “Cut” the last time, when I turned off the camera for good because we’d gotten what we’d needed to, the clock said 6:34am. 6:34am on Saturday. We shot for about 22 hours straight, know...that’s how long it took to get everything done. The whole script- the whole movie- was in the can. I couldn’t believe how long we’d been at it, and that it was finally over.
SHANNON LARK: By that time I was giggling like a perfect mixture of a blushing school girl and a crazy person. I sat down. I slept for 5 minutes with my bloody hands in the air. I love filming!!!
Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate. We packed up and cleaned the room as best as we could, wiping blood off the walls and the doorknobs. Shannon finally got a chance to wash her hair, which she hadn’t done all week (for the character, man, I swear!). We loaded the car and were on the road by 8:30, but not before Ludlow had one last laugh at my expense- violent winds had begun to blow (like, dust storm violent), and my car door slammed on my foot as I was sliding into the driver’s seat. I wasn’t surprised that Ludlow would try one more time to defeat us, but in the end it couldn’t. Later that evening, after Shannon had gone home and I was about to pass out from exhaustion, I laughed at the purple bruises on my foot and my sunburned arms. Ludlow was already becoming a memory, some weird sort of dream.

I went to the airport and had a bloody mary with some almonds. I immediately became drunk, and that bloody mary was "airport" weak! I was yelled at by an attendant on the plane, and promptly passed out all the way home, my fingers on my laptop keyboard.
Then eventually I started writing this, and…you know, I remembered it all.


MONDAY: TEASER TRAILER! In the meantime, enjoy some screencaps. ENJOY THEM.


Jason Adams said...

Yay! I'm so glad Ludlow decided to cooperate finally, else I was gonna sit her down and give her a very stern talking to.

And double (nay, triple!) yay for screencaps and oncoming footage! Can't wait!

In related news to all I just wrote, I learned today that exclamation points are apparently sorta feminine. Huh. Or rather, HUH!!!

Di said...

Fabulous...really enjoyed reading that over the days and can't wait to see the trailer and the finished piece. Shannon has a great sense of humor. And Ludlow just sounds like a magical place.

Anonymous said...

That second screencap is kind of kicking my ass with its awesomeness. How a screencap can do that I have NO IDEA, but whatever. The point is: awesome.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks so much guys. This was really fun to write about, and the shoot was just unbelievable.

I hope the film is worthy of all this attention! :D

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see it!

Anonymous said...

These articles have been such a fun read. The screenies look absolutely awesome. I Can't wait to see the movie.

Anonymous said...

Like everyone else, I have really been enjoying reading about your experiences in Ludlow.

So... how long must we wait until we get to see the movie?

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks, guys!!

Right now I'm aiming to have a "premiere" out here towards the end of June. After that, I don't know...I may slap it on a DVD or something, and/or send it around to festivals. I'll absolutely be making with the updatening!!

Vicki said...

Gosh - the Biblical plagues aspect of the shooting makes it even more awesome! I'm really looking forward to the preview.