(COMES COMPLETE WITH ACTUAL MOTION PICTURE FOOTAGE!)
by John Skipp
Dear friends and neighbors –
It is with great pleasure, and enormous exhaustion, that I present to you a FIRST SNEAK PEEK at the spec for my new motion picture, JAKE’S WAKE.
If this essay (or whatever you’d wind up calling it) is short, it’s because last night was my last night of shooting. And when you whip up that much fucking adrenalin, as a capper for months and months of hard work… well, if you’re like me, you change your name to “Plum Tuckered”!
Cuz that’s just who I am.
My fingers are fumbling all over the keys. I laugh as I do it, but it’s kind of pathetic. If you could just see the typos that litter this page – like body parts strewn from an airline disaster – you’d think this was written by a thousand monkeys. And that most of them were drunk.
Later – maybe first thing in the morning – I’ll go back and fix that shit.
It’s called editing.
Which, I guess, might be part of the subject for today.
Here’s the thing, to recap: as mentioned in last month’s column, I found myself faced with the need for additional footage. The first stuff I shot – the main body of the piece – was full of great ingredients, but kind of bland all by itself.
A bunch of interesting people, talking. And talking. And talking. And talking some more.
For a very long time.
Until everything went hog-wild, at the end. Which was great and exciting.
But HOW WOULD YOU KNOW, if you tuned out five minutes ago?
The answer was simple: SHOOT A BUNCH OF EXCITING SHIT, to interlace with the narrative, and perk it all up.
So that’s what we’ve done, over the last two weeks.
Two weeks ago, we shot the scene with Jake and Sugar and Frankie (Pastor Jake’s violently-insane sex, death, and transfiguration sequence). Plus a bunch of flashbacks, and some pre-home invasion warmup scenes featuring Jake, a big-ass car, and Cody (RADIANT DAWN, RAVENOUS DUSK) Goodfellow.
It went unbelievably great. You can see for yourself. My actors delivered like NOBODY’s business. Everybody was jammin’. We shot the shit out of those scenes.
Then, last night, it was time for the demons.
Let me tell you: they were not in the original script. They were a DIRECTORIAL CHOICE, made to liven things up visually AND deepen the narrative.
Provide layers that could be peeled back, via visual and sonic information.
To allow deeper insight into the characters, and the story.
To more successfully allure, and alarm.
And, fuck it: to make the movie MORE FUN TO WATCH!
My duty was clear.
I’m not gonna bore you with the details of setting up an enormous green screen, and lighting, and positioning the camera JUST SO, in order to get the shots we wanted. That’s all technical shit.
I won’t go into wardrobe design, and makeup, and the art of dripping blood with style.
Once all that was done, it was down to me, and the demons, and the camera.
Responding to a bunch of intuitive flashes – the kind David Lynch likes to obliquely talk about – I cast three astounding actresses, with amazing faces. Demons 1, 2, and 3.
Demon # 1 (Dierdre Lyons) is SCARY AS FUCK: with cataract eyes, a Mary Woronov intensity, and a mouth so unbelievably wide and huge that it makes Mick Jagger look like Wally Cox sucking a lemon. Like you’re waiting for her jaw to unhinge like a snake’s, and swallow an entire water buffalo.
Demon # 2 (Cyanne McClairian) is a giggling, manic, completely insane little creature, like the chick in EVIL DEAD who can’t stop laughing and laughing. She unnerves you, and cracks you up, till you’re not sure whether to shit or just giggle along. She is also completely intense.
Demon # 3 (Ursula Vari) is INSANELY HOT: an open invitation to lust and get lost in her open, cooing, voluptuous stare. She is seduction on the hoof, with a side order of chaos and absolute mayhem, all served up generously.
They are Jake’s demons. And together, they are even scarier than him.
In point of fact: they’re the shit that even HE is scared of.
I needed those demons.
And now I got ‘em.
To cap things off, I got a last shot of Jake, from the other dimension: blood-covered and out of his mind, a massive animal exploding with rage and pain and WATCH YOUR ASS, CUZ HERE HE COMES!!!
As it turns out, the blood burned Steve (Jake) Walter’s eyes so bad that he barely even had to fucking act.
You want pain? I’LL SHOW YOU PAIN!!!
So now I have all the ingredients I need to make my little spec movie do the things that must be done.
And here, as a sampler, is a quick spec trailer that my amazing editor, Damon Packard, cut together for your dining and dancing pleasure:
It doesn’t exactly tell you the story – it’s impressionistic as all get-out – but it gives you a glimpse of the stunning images captured by my director of photography (Laurence Avenet-Bradley), and provided by my stellar cast and crew.
One of the things I personally love about this trailer is that it DOESN’T GIVE AWAY ALL THE GOOD SHIT. So many trailers are built around taking the best moments from the film, throwing them out willy-nilly, and leaving you (or at least me) going, “Well, I guess I don’t need to see THAT any more, cuz now I know THE WHOLE FUCKING STORY, including how it ends!”
Which is to say: most of the most intense stuff in my movie isn’t even in the trailer. So you have lots of surprises in store!
The temp (as in “temporary”) music is lifted from John Carpenter films (guess which ones, and win a prize!). My own score will probably be the last thing that’s added. But it’s pretty nifty, if you like that sort of thing.
I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to let me know. This is kind of a test marketing thing, in that I wanna run it by people who care about such things as horror, and story, and art.
Once again: sorry that this is more of a travelogue than an actual essay, with a point.
I guess the point, if not the proof, is in the pudding itself.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna slip off to bed, and watch last night’s raw footage till I drift into slumber.
There are a million decisions left to make, before this is done.
Which shot works best with the next one, and such.
All best to you, always, in all that you do!
Yer happy, fumble-fingered explorer pal,