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Achieving high production value on a shoestring budget is
always a challenge, but then throw in space stations, spaceship interiors and multiple
gore FX and you are flirting with a PLAN 9 disaster, right? I say, “bring it
on.” This was the challenge presented when Municipal Waste’s Tony Foresta
pitched me the cannibalistic space voyage that was the bands latest single “The
Fatal Feast.” This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass; and so on a tiny budget,
an epic bloodbath would be born.
After locking down a perfect location (Laurel Canyon Stages,
set of FIREFLY), production designer Chris Speed and I focused on the elements
that would take this video over the top—the practical gore FX and spaceship
miniatures. We came up with three effective kill scenes (Captain’s Disembowelment,
Gore Geyser, Astro Face Melt) that we could pull off with our limited resources
and budget and, at the same time, cut seamlessly with the band’s gruesome DUSK ‘TIL
The “captain’s disembowelment” scene has the band violently
ripping out fistfuls of their leader’s intestines, and devouring them in a
rabid frenzy. We used about twenty feet of homemade latex intestines (provided
by FX artist Charlene De La Torre), a bucket, fake blood, and a double of the
captain’s button down shirt. Three shots were needed to sell the kill. First, a
wide shot of the band tearing out the Captain’s guts (with the bucket of
intestines just out of frame on the captain’s lap). The composition here is
critical to make this cheat work. Next, is a close-up of intestines being
ripped out of the fake torso: stuff the shirt to give it body mass and rig a
bowl of bloody intestines just behind the area that will be torn through. Punch
between the buttons of the shirt and pull out a healthy handful of gore. Lastly,
there’s a close-up of the Captain’s blood curdling reaction to tie it all
The “gore geyser” is the grisly aftermath of a chase scene
through the Waste Station corridors. The victim is trapped behind a closing
door as the bloodthirsty band rapidly close in for the kill. Chris built a
miniature version of the door out of cheap wood, and painted it to match. We
rigged the door parallel to the ground so that we could dump a five-gallon
bucket of blood straight down through the door opening. We shot the gore
explosion sideways so that when we turned it horizontal in post, the blood
would look like it was shooting straight out of the door.
The ‘astro face melt” scene is the keystone kill of the
video, and the most difficult. We had an astronaut whose face melts off by his
own boiling blood. We rented two duplicate space helmets and made them liquid
tight with gaffer’s tape and neoprene from an old wet suit, then rigged them
with blood tubing. Our actor wears one helmet, and the other helmet has our
melted skull face (made by FX artist, Steve Aparicio) inside it. We attached a
blood filled fire extinguisher to the actor’s helmet and let it rip. Once the
blood level rises above the actor’s nose we have our shot. Now we have to match
this shot to the helmet with the skull in it, so composition, lighting and
blood level must be the same. Then, we release the blood out of the new helmet
and reveal the astronauts melted skull face.
Blue screens and miniatures were uncharted territories for
Chris and I, but DP Doug Cheney had done some experimenting with these kinds of
shoots, so we were in good hands. Chris did an incredible job constructing the
spaceships out of various models, pieces of plastic, poster board, beer cans
and paint. Armed with a blue screen, slider, a couple of c-stands and a Canon
7D, we were able to launch the ships into orbit. We shot each ship on its own
separate plate, with the intention of compositing the shots together in post.
For the Waste Station approach, we pushed in on the stationary ship with the
camera mounted on the slider. For the
Rescue Ship fly by, we pulled the camera/slider back away from the stationary
ship. Once the shot is reversed in post it will look like the Rescue Ship is
flying forward past the camera and out into space. Both shots were filmed at 70
fps to add weight to the ships and smoothen out the camera moves. The space
background was composited and built in AfterEffects.
In my opinion, you can’t beat practical FX. And in terms
of low budget filmmaking, it might be your only option. You’d be amazed what
kind of crowd-pleasing gags you can pull off with quick cuts, low light, and a
little creativity. So go get your hands bloody.
We had way too much fun making this vid. Many more gruesome
projects to come, stay tuned!
Jeff Speed, Writer/Director
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