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 6, 2009

so i made a movie, part four

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, and part three is here.

We awoke in Baker a day behind schedule but still psyched: we could check into the rooms at the motel in Ludlow around 11am, and then we could start shooting this movie in earnest. Off we drove.
SHANNON LARK: But not before pointing and laughing at the world's largest thermometer, which, like I said, appears to be a gigantic erect cock.
The return trip to Ludlow was uneventful but beautiful. Driving through the Mojave Preserve is an unforgettable experience; the park is a gorgeous, desolate expanse covering over a million and a half acres, replete with joshua trees, boulders, and massive sand dunes. While the reservation fuck up in Ludlow was a massive pain, I was thankful that our solution sent us north through this amazing wilderness.

We arrived at the Chevron station in the late morning and in a shocking turn of events, our reservations were still intact! Our two rooms soon became one, however, when my debit card kept getting declined, despite the fact that I had more than enough money available to cover the costs. In a few days, Shannon Lark would work her magic and get some bank representative on the phone for me- apparently getting a hotel room in Baker and then one the following day in Ludlow is cause enough for the bank to freeze my account, putting me on fraud alert. A minor-ish hassle, but typical of the many obstacles we’d come to face as we attempted to make this fucking movie.

the magic room, #8

Shannon and I quickly unloaded into the room and set about to start shooting. I was well-organized, Shannon brought the performance, and we didn’t fuck around. By 1pm, we’d cranked out about 4 scenes out of the 28 we had slated for the week. We worked fast, but didn’t sacrifice quality. We were on a roll.

We decided to take a quick break so I could think about the next set up. Shannon stayed in the room while I ran across the street to the Chevron to take advantage of the complimentary water and coffee and soda we got as guests of the luxurious Ludlow Motel. Upon my return to the room, Shannon mentioned that the light had suddenly gone out while I was gone.

In fact, ALL the power was out.
SHANNON LARK: I was eating almonds and boom! The power went out. I looked at our dinky lights and couldn't quite believe that they had thrown out the power for the entire building.
After fifteen minutes or so, when the power still hadn’t started up again, I headed to the Chevron, hoping to find out if we’d blown a fuse or the circuit breakers needed tripping or…whatever. The clerks behind the counter were…shall we say, less than helpful.

“Yup, the power’s out.”

“But it’s not out here…”

“The gas station and the diner run on one generator and the rest of the town (!!!!) runs on another.”

“Has the outage been reported? Does anyone know what the problem is?”

“Could be the weather. Maybe someone crashed into something.”

“So…what do we do?”

“This happens all the time, and in the 9 years I’ve been working here, they’ve never given anyone a refund.”

I headed back to the room in a daze. I relayed the tale to Shannon and we just sort of sat there, unsure what to do. The interior was too dark for filming. We couldn’t really do much except wait it out. We ran lines, I worked on my storyboards…and we waited. And waited. And waited.

Shannon was convinced that the clerks at the Chevron could do something to help our situation- she was envisioning some scenario where they’d supply us with extension cords and let us tap into the diner’s generator; she stormed over to the gas station but in the end, didn’t have much more luck than I did. She did, however, get them to at least promise to refund our money if we decided to leave.
SHANNON LARK: By that time, I was getting pissed. $55 a night and no power? I was absolutely certain that they would at least run an extension cord across the parking lot so we could power a couple lights. Stacie went with me and the guy told me they didn't even "own" extension cords. I demanded for the owner (who owns all three businesses in town, that bastard). The manager rushed over to the diner, where the owner was hiding, and came back with a big fat NO. No, we will not give you light. But we will refund your money....
Clearly, we were in a bind- should we stay? Where else could we go? The sun was already sinking lower, and unless the power returned as suddenly as it’d disappeared, another day would be toast. We decided to go over to the diner and grab some chow. We convinced ourselves that this change of scenery would somehow do the trick, that when we returned to the room we’d have lights and we could start filming again. Several hours and two green chile cheese omelettes later, we walked back to the motel in darkness…

…and in darkness we remained. Still no power.

running lines by flashlight is fucking awesome
SHANNON LARK: I wandered around in the trailer park before we hit up the diner, determined to get to the end of this with the locals. I love trailer parks. I grew up in a series of them and love the vibe they give, it's a feeling that's better than sex! Three kids were walking back to their trailer and I asked if they knew anything about the power outage. They said that the town turns it off sometimes, to preserve power. I fiddled around with a box that said "Hotel Generator" but it was covered in spiders. That's when that bastard of an owner rode up in his truck, carrying some dude who was all smiley. "I'm sorry hun, but the power is fer the businesses," he said to me as he rolled up. Like I'm supposed to know who he is. This is the motherfucker who wouldn't lend us extension cords to his generator that we could see from our window. He drove off thinking he was hot shit, and probably made comments regarding banging nails out of a piece of wood.
LUDLOW COFFEE SHOP...excuse me, the LUDLOW CO EE SHOR...sucking up all the power is fucking awesome

Shannon got her Encyclopedia Brown on and tracked down the power company responsible for coverage in Ludlow. The Powers That Be were aware of the problem, but had no idea where it was located, never mind what fixing it would entail. Newberry Springs, a good 30 miles to the west of Ludlow, was also without power. Somewhere out in the Mojave there was a downed line, or…you know, like the clerk said, someone had “crashed into something”. They had no idea when the power would return.

So there we sat, sharing a flashlight, another day lost. Our four-day shooting schedule was now reduced to two.

sitting in the dark is fucking awesome

Sometime after midnight, Shannon passed out. I stayed up, staring at the road atlas, trying to make a decision, trying to figure out what to do if the power was still out when we woke up. Should we head back to Baker and give the Bun Boy Motel a try? Should we head south to Joshua Tree in the hopes of finding a new location? I told the universe very nicely that I’d really appreciate it if the power was back on in the morning, but if it wasn’t, I decided that we’d head back to Baker to try our luck- at least it was a known quantity and we could reshoot the few scenes we’d finished already. I set the alarm for 5:30am and fell asleep.
SHANNON LARK: I fell asleep after one beer, muttering about what we'd accomplished that day. I knew that cramming four days of shooting into two was going to be intense, but the anger over Ludlow's lack of professionalism would fuel my desire. HUZZAHH!!


Bill Walsh said...

Ayiyi! What awaits our dogged darkling bespined no-room-at-the-inn heroines next?


(Validation: preptess. Derogatory slang for rich girl? Minor official at a finishing school? You make the call.)

RAY DILLON said...

I haven't read through all this yet (I'm copying and saving it so my computer can read it to me in a weird electronic monotone voice), but I am SO EXCITED that you made a movie. I want 3 copies. No 4 COPIES!!!

Yay, Stacie!!!!!!!

andrew said...

What an epic journey! Stacie, Ludlow is totally like the Apocalypse Now of low-budget horror shorts. Presumably with less coke.

I hope this saga has a happy ending!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Can't wait to see the movie...the behind the scenes blogging is riveting!

Jason Soto said...

You should've been filming all this and make it a documentary on the DVD...or do what Terry Gilliam did and make it the movie INSTEAD of the movie was making.
(Lost in La Mancha is what I'm referring to.)

Still, I hope the movie got made! I totally wanna see it!

serial catowner said...

So, the woman writing the script arrives at the 'town' that exists for...what reason? Nobody knows... a pimple on the face of hell. The girl at the gas station is attractive, but- is she alive? Can anyone that dumb actually be alive?

The woman writing the script goes to her room and keeps writing. The lights go out- for her, but not for anyone else in town. The coarse evil features of the town citizens leer at her as they patrol the streets with their dogs on chains. She calls the power company. They haven't heard of any power outage.

She returns to her room and keeps writing. There is no food in the town. What do the locals eat? As night falls the desert arises in the form of millions of insects thudding against the windows, carpeting the ground, coating the cars with a living carpet, and flying into your mouth and hair if you walk outside.

She keeps writing. She's trying to think of something really scary.

And then comes the Jack-Nicholson-in-the-Shining moment. We see she hasn't been writing anything at all. She changes into a waitress outfit and goes to take her place behind the counter of the gas station. The girl who was there walks off into the desert.

A woman who wants to write a script for a horror movie drives into town. Our former-writer-now gas-station girl takes her deposit for a motel room and throws the receipt in a drawer....