Monday, March 25, 2013

The Shivers

The Ghosts: Abraham, Clementine (me) and Kendra

Guess who plays a ghost in the short film The Shivers? Yep, it's me!

The Shivers is based on "The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers" by the Brothers Grimm. The screenplay was written by Shawn Crochet and Kevin Ogle-Johnson. It's about a guy named Jake who accepts a bet to spend the night in a haunted theatre. I play Clementine, one of the ghosts whose spirit haunts the theatre. She died when she was taken from her husband and children and hung in the town square as a witch.

The film will be entered in the 2013 Wyoming Short Film contest. The film was shot at the Historic Atlas Theatre in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is actually haunted. Paranormal groups have set up camp in the upstairs rooms with their ghost-finding equipment. Check out these photos I took of the shoot.

One of the upstairs rooms with peeling wall paper and drafty windows.
Spook factor very high.

The creaky staircase leading to the haunted upstairs area.

Shawn Crochet, the director, shot all the ghost scenes with a green screen
to make some cool special effects.

Me as Ghost Clementine in full makeup. I scare myself!

Ghost Abraham (Justin Batson)  ponders his life as a minister
 that "did some terrible things." 

Ghost Kendra (Kelsey Swanson), scarred by the burning theatre.

A dark hallway upstairs on the third floor. 

Shawn setting up a camera.

Shoes in one of the haunted rooms used to store costumes.
I think they move when no one is looking.

Costumes on hangers in the costume room. I found a dead bird
on the floor by the window. Too creeped out to take a picture.

More stairs leading to the ghostly realms. 

Makeup artist, Cathy Chadwick, puts the finishing touches on Kelsey.

More creepiness in the upstairs regions. A door and paint-chipped wall.

Vince Zakis, who plays Jake, the guy who spends the night in the haunted theatre; Shawn Crochet, the director; and Jerry Steinhour, camera operator.

This is where people have actually seen the ghost of a little boy
playing on the steps. 

The third floor area -- creepiest in the whole theatre.

Jerry and Shawn shooting Justin on the green screen. 

Jerry and Shawn setting up the cameras.

Me, Justin and Kelsey in our ghostly garb.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Night Time

If someone were to ask me which filmmaker is my greatest inspiration, there would be no contest. Only one fits that bill in my book -- M. Night Shyamalan.

I feel that we are kindred spirits when it comes to filmmaking. I really didn't see the connection until I'd written a few screenplays and discovered that the stories I like to tell are similar to those of Shyamalan. We both write about the supernatural, the spiritual, the magical and  the mysterious -- stories that raise philosophical questions about life.

In my research, I was surprised to learn that we also share the same approach to filmmaking. In fact, I noted similarities in the way we think about  movies in general. Like Shyamalan, my strengths are story and cinematography and I'm less concerned about special effects. So for me, there is a distinctive creative connection to Shyamalan.

Even in his "weakest" films, his passion and talent as a storyteller come through loud and clear. Not all his movies care critically acclaimed or appreciated by audiences. For him, it's about the story he wants to tell. Some people get it and some people don't. And that's okay.

Signs (2002) is my favorite of all Shyamalan's films. The story of a man struggling with his faith is told amid the setting of an Alien invasion.

Other faves include:

The Sixth Sense (1999) -- A boy has the ability to see into the spirit world of the dead.

Unbreakable (2000) -- A thriller suspense story about a man who discovers that his body is indestructible. He encounters a man who is his polar opposite.

Lady in the Water (2006) -- An apartment building manager finds a woman in the pool and learns that she is a character in a bedtime story who has a message for mankind.

The Village (2004) -- A community of people live in an isolated Pennsylvania village surrounded on all sides by a thick forest. They dare not venture into the woods for fear of what lies beyond.

Other films written and directed by Shyamalan:

The Last Airbender (2010) -- A fantasy story about the adventures of a young Avatar.

The Happening (2008) -- Science and Nature collide creating bizarre behavior among humans.

Wide Awake (1998) -- A boy searches for God after his grandfather dies.

Praying with Anger (1992) -- An American teen of East Indian heritage goes back to India where he searches for his roots (features Shyamalan in the starring role).

Shyamalan wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little (1999), the story of a family that adopts a mouse (adapted from E. B. White's popular children's book).

Shyamalan created the story for Devil (2010), about a group of people trapped in an elevator with the Devil.

After Earth (2013) Shyamalan's newest film is a futuristic story of a father and son who are stranded on earth 1000 years after all humanity has been evacuated.

Do you have a favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Movies and Motor Scooters

Larry Crowne (2011)

Hubby and I are crazy about Larry Crowne. We are impressed with his honesty, integrity and willingness to try new things. We root for Larry when he goes back to college. We admire his work ethic and  are amused that he doesn't know anything about Feng Shui. But most of all we envy his little blue motor scooter! I can see hubby and me zipping around town without a care in the world.

Larry Crowne inspired me to do a bit of research to see what other movies featured motor scooters. Check it out:

Roman Holiday (1953)

Breaking Away (1979)

The Terminator (1984)

American Pie (1999)

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

More motor scooter flicks:

The Conversation (1974)
Octopussy (1983)
Bounce (2000)
The Wedding Planner (2001)
The Simpsons (2001)
Runaway Jury (2003)
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Total Recall (2012)

Larry's new friend and fellow student is Talia, a cute quirky girl who loves vintage clothes and makes it her business to give Larry a make over. Not just clothes, but his hair, his house and his life. She's the one who gives him a new name (Lance Corona) and introduces him to her motor scooter pals.

TALIA: Wanna join my gang?

Can you think of any other motor scooter flicks?

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Richard Parker Question

The other day I finally got around to seeing Life of Pi. It was mesmerizing, to say the least. I went away wondering about the Tiger and Pi. The metaphor vs the reality. The film definitely stayed with me.

The next day I was channel surfing when I came upon  The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). This movie has been on my watch list for a while because I'd missed it when it was playing in the theatres.

Lo and behold, I discovered that Peter Parker (Spider-Man) is the son of Richard Parker, who, along with Peter's mother, Mary, died in a plane crash. Young Peter was raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Richard Parker. The same name given to the Bengal tiger in "Life of Pi."

Life of Pi was based on the novel by Yann Martel, published in 2001. The Spider-Man comics have been around since the 1950s, but I don't know if Richard Parker was part of the original story. When the first film was released in 2002, Richard Parker was mentioned briefly. Research suggests that Richard and Mary Parker may have been CIA agents. In the 2012 movie, Richard Parker was a genetics scientist.

So the bottom line is this: Did Yann Martel intentionally name the tiger Richard Parker after the fictional character in the Spider-Man comic book series? Or was it just a coincidence? If it was intentional, what is the significance?

It's also intriguing that Uncle Ben is also the name on a box of rice.