If you saw a deranged milkman stuffing bodies into his truck last night, no, it's not time to cut back on the meds; you simply caught a glimpse of a horror flick currently being filmed by those clever students of North Carolina's School of the Arts. Student producer Melissa Lawler welcomed me onto her set at an undislosed Winston-Salem neighborhood without so much as a second glance of my broadcast camera. Unlike some cinema-helmer's I've delt with in the past, the fourth year film student gave me full access to the cast, crew and coffee supply of 'Dr. Undead's Frightfest'.
Movie making is a slow, plodding process. For every twenty seconds of film they roll, technicians spend hours on lighting, props and lens placement. Thus, watching a set in action is a little like waiting for a bus, one in which the bus-stop crowd dresses all in black and speaks in arcane movie references. No prob, I can talk the talk. In fact, I had the most interesting conversation with Win Craft, head of production at NC School of the Arts. The veteran film tech made quiet suggestions to his student crew - when he wasn't being dragged across the lawn by a homicidal dairy deliverer. Seems the journeyman instructor isn't above appearing onscreen, as long as he's treated with respect. Hey, are they supposed to push his face in the grass like that?
Now, back to the action. 'Dr. UnDead's FrightFest', a future masterpiece that takes itself about as seriously as the title suggests, is the story of a milkman who decides to poison his lactose supply, thus offing every housewife and husband along his route. All goes well until a crafty granny spins the bottle on him and unleashes a calcium-rich armageddon the likes of which the Dairy Board probably won't approve of. While it's still unclear how a tainted dairy supply leads to severed humans, there was a milk-crate full of fake body parts that I'm told plays a pivotal role. It's the feel-good hit of the year! Or not. Whatever the case, the fifteen minute feature will eventually make the college film festival circuit, hopefully winning acclaim and trophies for all involved.
Before I left the set(er...cul de sac), I bagged some great shots, scored some good sound and made a few new friends along the way. From the multi-tasking Melissa to the grass stained Craft to the deservedly distracted director Adam Tate, everyone was uncharacteristically open to my electronic interloping. Thanks, guys - the access and kindness will translate onto the (small) screen and I look forward to covering 'Dr. Undead' when it sweeps all those overwrought award ceremonies. Heck, I even chatted up David Joy, who plays the maniacal milkman to a tee. Judging from the expression on my face, he creeped me out even when not in character. Either that, or it was just a bad case of gas. I can't remember - it was a long night...