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Monday, November 12, 2012


If there is anyone left out there reading this thing, then check out the latest short film I had the honor of being a part of. It's titled Moon Child and it was filmed in one long 18 hour night for the 2012 Demon Chaser Film Challenge, a local Horror-themed Film Festival  that screened in October.  The Film won Best Director, Best Cinemtography, and Best Effects.

As most Film Challenges go, there were prescribed elements that had to be seen and heard with the film as well as specific duration of 666 seconds (pun intended).

I was approached by writter/director Matt "Oz" O'Connor, who I never directly met although he provided some of the rough cuts for the upcoming feature film, Lust of the Vampire Girls.  With my departure of the festival circuit and focus on commerical projects, I thought it would be great to "get back to the basics" of film making.

All Photographs Courtesy of Brandon Young ©2012 Entropy Picutures

Writer Director Matt "Oz" O'Connor

Oz was on the same page and we wanted to create a short that was clear, concise, and left the viewers on a cliff hanger without using complicated shots, camera movements, or over the top special effects.
Director Matt "Oz" O'Connor and DP Ben Sant go over the next shot

Pre-production through delivery of the final film took a little over 3 weeks with only a single long day slated for principle photography.  We couldn't have asked for a better location to film in as we shot in Oz's nanny's cabin located just outside of Salt Lake City.

Even the best locations have their share of challenges

AC Kyle Calder and Dolly Grip Steve Haynie rehearsing a push for the next shot

Director Matt "Oz" O'Connor directing 1rst AD Matt Johnon regarding placement of blood on Tom J. Post
Upcoming Actress Paige Ludwig
During our scouting session, Oz and I felt as the cabin was met to be as we found one of our required elements sitting on kitchen counter.

Oz cast Tom J. Post, Dennis Record, and Paige Ludwig to play the roles of the father, scientist, and little girl.  Our Moonchild was played by no other than James C. Morris, who ended up freezing all night being doned in black paint and wearing only a modifed loin cloth.

James C. Morris getting transformed in to the Moonchild

Dennis Record successfully staying alert while waiting for his scenes.

Tom J. Post preparing for another take

Despite the locations perfect look and logistics, as with any set, it did provide some of its own obstacles to overcome.  One of the biggest was that the old small home offered only a couple of circuits to light the entire set.  Any Gaffer will sigh when you have over 8000 paper watts of lighting and have only 2 circuits to tie them in.  I felt I was Gary Sinise in Ron Howard's film Apollo 13 during the scenes when he was trying to find the right boot sequence for the ship's rentry.  After some sacrifice, trial and error, we found a compatible order that allowed us to use most our lights with only popping the 2 small breakers every couple of hours.

The crew
AC Kyle Calder waiting for instructions on light placement

Our other big problem was the cabin sat within 10 feet of a small creek that was seemed as loud as Niagra Falls.  Our sound mixer, Nate Tomlinson had his own challenges to cancel out the roar of the creek.  Capturing Ambient and Room Tones was a top priority in efforts to get as clean dialog we could.
Sound Mixer Nate Tomlinson preparing for another take.

Other caveats almost shut down photography as the USB port on the camera sustained a physical failure and left us with no way to transfer and log footage.  It took the life saving efforts of the crew to find a vintage Firewire 4 pin to Firewire 6 pin cable and a MacBook Pro to transfer the footage and utilize the optional port on the camera.

Data Logging and Transferring footage after a near devasting hardware failure.

Alas we finished filming somwhere in the wee hours of the morning.  I remember getting home after the sun had come up.

It was a fun project to be part of and I believe that we had the right mix of cast and crew which directly attributed to the film being such a success at the festival.  I'd like to thank all those who donated their time and talents to make Moonchild a reality.

Paige Ludwig showing that she has no fear of the Moonchild (James C. Morris)

Dennis Record rehearsing lines with Tom J. Post

1rst AD Matt Johnson reviewing doing the director's bidding

Writer/Director Matt Oz' O'Connor studying for the night's shoot.

Cinematographer Ben Sant having a stroke and wishing for some In n' Out Burger

AC Kyle Calder preparing for a hand held shot.

James C. Morris sucking the soul out of Tom J. Post

Writer/Director Matt "Oz" O'Connor draws the portal for the Moonchild to come out of.

1rst AD Matt Johnson reviews Story Boards as the crew prepares for the next shot

Actress Paige Ludwig patiently waits for her scenes.

Cinematographer Ben Sant checks framing and exposure of shot

Tom J. Post prepares to be crushed by the Moonchild

*All Photographs courtesy of Brandon Young ©2012 Entropy Pictures