Sunday, 22 July 2012

Zombie Days and Summer Showers

Hey Guys,

   Just over a year ago, when Wasteland was in pre-production, I did a fair few blog posts about it, mostly showing you all how I got the costumes ready. Since then the production hasn't exactly stopped but it's bobbed about at a steady, enjoyable pace. This pace was rattled a couple of days ago when it suddenly got epic - we went from early mornings filming one actor (the wonderful Shameer Seepersand) in one setting, to 15 - 30 zombie extras per day and hilly derbyshire locations to put Braveheart to shame.

   The change of pace has been a jolt to everyone's system, but in a good way. The footage is looking amazing and all this recent activity has caused a bit of a "we're still here!!" shout for the production. Plus there was only so long we could film quiet dialogue scenes in a zombie film. The people want blood, and we have delivered.

  So, with this recent explosion of activity, I decided to take Cameron the Diary Cam on location with me and capture a special edition of my Filmmaker Diary (with a big thankyou to Light Films Ltd for allowing me to do this). I captured some behind-scenes-footage on our first big zombie fight day - although their have been a few since - and it is online now. Although I have two words of caution for you: 1) We spent most of the day atop a hill amidst relentless rain, so my lens is often streaky from droplets. 2) The cast and crew on Wasteland are not only interesting to film, but also a riot, so I seriously struggled to cut it down to youtube-length (it's still my longest video diary to date) and the whole thing races along at an MTV-style pace. Enjoy!


   Although I don't feature as much in this video diary as I usually do, the part where you see me the most is when I'm ageing and distressing the zombie extras' clothes. Back when I arranged the costume for one of the lead characters - Lolli - I did a blog post about how to make it look realisticly aged and distressed. However, when ageing a great deal of clothes in little time, and none of the characters will have extreme screen time, you need to aim for decent and fast rather than flawlessly realistic. You don't even have to reach for the coffee. 

   So, if you get didn't it from watching the video, here are my main pointers for distressing zombie clothes:
  • When ageing a lead character's costume, you can spend hours, days or even weeks scraping the fabric down with a sandpaper block. If you have to be quick and effective, use scissors. Close the blades down to the fabric without cutting into it, then scrape. The bigger the scissors, the better.
  • Particularly distress areas which would come in contact with the ground most e.g. knees.
  • Don't leave any edges neat. That is the first thing I look for when people do Zombie clothes. Whether using sandpaper or scissors, particularly scrape the bottom of T-shirts and jeans, as well as collars and cuffs. Cuffs on long-sleeved shirts will be more aged than short ones.
  • Don't just cut holes in clothes - it'll look like a hallowe'en costume! Any holes/tears you make (and do be creative with them), make sure you fray the edges. Scissors will do that fastest for you but fraying by hand always looks best.
  • Any hole you make, make it an extra centimetre bigger than you think you need to, because everything shrinks on camera (ignore the weight rule!). But, if you are making big holes, look out for nipples or other areas sticking out and distracting from the action. Unless your extra is up for it - then just make sure all exposed areas are very, very bloody!
  • Mud is your friend - caking someone in mud, even thinly, will make them look mad and savage. The muddiest place should be the bottoms of trousers; if they have exposed ankles then muddy them up as well. The best thing I've found is to mix compost with white poster paint - that way it'll spread easier, stick to the fabric and show up more (particularly with black clothes and shoes). Don't put too much white paint in though, otherwise it'll look like a bird pooed on them.
  • Avoid white clothes. White t-shirts look effective when they're blood soaked but unless you have Deborah Bennett-grade fake blood, it'll just turn pink. Not a good look for a zombie!
   Follow those rules and you too can make your friends look like zombies!

   The other thing I got from these recent epic shoot days has been lots of wonderful photos. Added to all the ones I've taken over the months, I'm struggling to cut them down to fit into a cohesive album. Plus I got part way through the editing and my eyesight literally went. It came back a couple of days later - turned out I had eyestrain - but it's made me a little cautious ever since.

   Once I've finally sorted and edited the best of my photos, I'll be putting them onto the Wasteland Facebook Page, so give it a like and keep checking back. But, in the meantime, here's one which I couldn't resist editing and sharing:

Shameer Seepersand in full action hero mode! (Wasteland, dir: Tom Wadlow 2012)
    I'm back in London on a corporate shoot next week, but with the Ashes shoot dates looming ever closer, keep checking back for updates. Because I've planned something special for my followers, and there's going to be some announcements coming up which I really don't want you to miss!

Sophie x

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