THE STORY OF FILTHY - PART II
CINEMATOGRAPHY - DAVID A. BARRETT
...Talk about a Godsend (can you have a GODsend in a horror movie?) - Dave A. Barrett was it. I've known Dave for years, ever since I was a Graphic Designer at the Home Shopping Network. Dave would freelance for Home Shopping as a Videographer often, and after talking to him found out that he had a keen interest in independent films and cinematography. Like other artists at Home Shopping, Dave was eager to take a break from shooting commercials and lens a independent film.
Dave is one of the most sought-after cinematographers/videographers in the state, with a resume and demo reel that would knock your socks off. I approached him with the project, hoping that an artist of his stature might at least entertain the thought of shooting FILTHY, and to my surprise he agreed enthusiastically!
I presented Dave with a script (which, after reading, thought I was truly demented) which he seemed to dig, and then we got busy planning the shots and shooting schedule. Dave wasn't a horror-head like some of the other crew, so in doing research on the genre he brushed up on such horror classics as Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dave really dug Raimi and admired the way he shot Evil Dead with such creativity on a limited budget. We were in the same boat. Like today's major filmmakers, Raimi got his start in the horror genre.
Dave brought a lot to the table: experience, dedication, leadership, creativity, industry contacts, skill - and a Super 16mm camera, which he owns as part of MAGIC HOUR, his production business. The camera we used was an Arriflex SRII with accessories. Being that this was Dave's own personal property, he knew the camera inside and out, which resulted in breathtaking shots time and time again.
Before shooting, Dave, John Karliss, myself, and other key crew members checked out locations to pre-determine camera angles, lighting issues and other concerns. We brought with us storyboards I had drawn up (the size of a phone book!) and discussed the many shots we'd need.
Finally, on April 15th, 2002 cameras rolled on 60th St. in Clearwater. Dave, through various industry contacts, was able to get us some incredible deals on equipment and discounted rates on grips, gaffers, and AC's. This saved our production tons of money and as a result we got some really great crew that became part of the FILTHY family, such as Key Grip Gregg Wolf, Gaffer "Grab" Szenas, and AC Kerry Buck. These guys are as professional as could be and could solve any problem thrown at them. They were truly incredible.
Dave's experience made it easy to figure out exactly what equipment and personnel we'd need on location and at the set. We used a Maxi Brute light to light up 60th Street and Hobbs and a Cam Mate for some really neat crane shots at Hobbs Scrapyard.
Dave also furnished us with some luxuries like a "camera assist" complete with VHS deck so we could record the footage coming through the Arri's viewfinder. He also got us some great deals on film stock and helped out with sales tax exemption issues. Dave was truly a marvel.
During the shoot, Dave's skill, leadership qualities, and self-assuredness were evident every moment. He knew exactly what light to use where, and helped us logistically in determining how we could shoot around a massive set with movable walls.
His most impressive work was literally hanging upside-down like a bat while shooting from the ceiling Fermie's dance sequence. He also used the Cam Mate to great effect during Rocky's death scene and Dana's approach to the garbage-house. In the set, Dave did a lot of hand-held work which really made the viewer feel you were right inside the garbage piles
In addition to Dave's Arriflex camera, Dave has his own DigiBeta camera, which we used to shoot all the video shots. The mixture of film and video works extremely well in the film, and Dave's expertise in both mediums really made the footage look spectacular.
Other in-camera effects that Dave experimented with were slow & fast motion. Look for wonderful slo-mo shots of Leonard hitting a light bulb in the scene where Dana is tied to the post - and don't forget the snot rocket shot!
One thing I marveled at from Dave was his ability to construct the movie in his head, bridging the shots together as if he were in the edit suite. That was perhaps the most important thing I personally learned during the shooting of "Filthy"; the necessity of seeing how the movie was cut together in your head. Storyboards are one thing, but if a shot or shots deviate from the boards, a filmmaker has to have the ability to reassemble the scene in their head, which Dave excelled at.
COSTUME DESIGNER - JULIE BIEBRICH
Costume Design was an integral element of FILTHY. Some costumes were classy (Dana/Liza's suits), but most were weathered and disgusting. Costume Designer Julie Bartel, an old friend, accepted the challenging task of creating the wonderfully icky costumes for FILTHY. Julie is a seamstress, but had not done anything the scale of FILTHY before.
Julie was in her element, delighting in hitting the malls to find the perfect clothing for the female reporters. She gave us many choices when it came to picking the right look. Then came the task of weathering/ dirtying the clothes...I was amazed at how skillful she was at doing this. She genuinely made the clothes look just like they were worn every day for 10 years! Keep in mind Julie never did anything like that before.
She worked with John and I, ensuring that she gave us the right look. The biggest challenge for Julie was the soiled wedding dress (worn by Dana) made of dirty diapers. Julie captured the look and smell (yecch!) perfectly, as seen in the picture below.
Other tasks involved dressing Rocky and the crazy family. Julie had some family help when designing Rocky's shirt - her sister is in the embroidery business. She was able to take the WMIA logo and apply that to a polo shirt.
Next came dressing the sadistic Leonard. On the street, Leonard wears a mechanic's jumpsuit, but gets more glitzy when inside the house for the "Hallowedding". We wanted green tuxedoes for the guys in the wedding, so Julie had a lot of fun finding and dying actual tux clothes.
For Pussey, Julie added a special touch. I wanted a '70s "smiley face" patch on Pussey's crotch when she wore her short shorts - if you look close, you can see it!
Fermie was basically in the same vile nightgown throughout most of the movie, except when she attacks Dana at the end.
Julie also designed the look of the mystical "Padre", giving that character a special "dusty" look. She also worked closely with Joy Patricoski and Brian Angeloff, the spfx make-up artists, to bring some of her designs to life.
Jules was also responsible for the Biohazard Cop chem suits & gas masks.
SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS - BRIAN AND JOY ANGELOFF
Veteran make-up artists Joy Patricoski and Brian Angeloff (as they were named at the time, now they are married) were chosen as chief special effects make-up artists after viewing their incredible portfolio. They had recently contributed designs to the just-released (on DVD) Deadly Species and had worked on other several other indie horror films.
We went over with them the extensive effects needed for the film - and they never even balked! They were ready for a good challenge.
Their main task, of course was creating one of the humanoid "stars" of the film, MeatMan. We discussed the best way to achieve the effect, and agreed it should be a man in a custom-designed latex suit. Over the course of literally months, J&B began the grueling task of bringing MeatMan to life, casting molds, sculpting, painting, creating foam pieces, all necessary elements in creating this character.
Distance was an inconvenience, remedied by the enthusiasm in seeing the latest creations Joy and Brian came up with. You see, myself living in Tampa Bay and J&B living in Orlando, we were separated by 150 miles. At appointed weekends I would meet up with John and J&B to assess progress.
It was a thrill seeing how MeatMan slowly evolved, from abstract sculpting to the final full body appliance worn by actor Jakub Dolezal. Interestingly, Jakub was the very first actor we ever met (then a student at the University of South Florida) in the quest to cast the film. Jakub's youth, enthusiasm, and talent really brought the character to life.
If you were to get near the MeatMan suit, you'll realize it gives of the slight smell of fumes. One day on the set, Jakub got in the suit and disappeared. Joy Patricoski and I looked all over for him and finally found him slumped over a chair near an open door to a dark room. I went over to him to shake him awake. "Jakub" I said. "Jakub!". "Jakub!!" I kept repeating. There seemed to be nothing happening, and after a minute, I started to panic. I shook him violently, yelling his name over and over...I thought he was dead!!! I figured the worst & thought the fumes suffocated him in the suit! Finally we were able to bring him to...Jakub explained that he's a VERY deep sleeper - NO DUH!
Another interesting aspect about MeatMan is that we used real meat on him! I talked a local supermarket chain, Publix, to give us meat scraps, which turned out to be real nasty, smelly chunks of fat & gristle. We "stuffed" the chunks into Meatman's "cavities" on the suit. We had to do this because one scene called for MeatMan to remove parts of his meaty body and plop them onto plates in front of the actors. The effect worked marvelously - and it was all natural!
For MeatMan's face we used a real styrofoam meat tray (again, courtesy of Publix). The "lips" or "mouth" were real chunks of stringy fat. It was disgusting, but the effect is boss. MeatMan was inspired by the abstract films PINK FLOYD THE WALL and DAY OF THE LOCUST.
After viewing FILTHY, I think you'll agree MeatMan is one unforgettable walking spare rib.
A wide array of special make-up effects followed. J&B were responsible for making up Leonard on location and on the set. Leonard required minimal make-up, so their task was relatively easy compared to some of the other characters. There is a scene in the film where Leonard urinates on Dana. The effect was simple but memorable.
My favorite "gore" effect in the film is the unnerving "eyepunch" scene where Leonard punches Pussey's eyelids with a hole puncher. This was actually a pretty simple effect to achieve, enhanced by DP Dave Barrett's incredible tight shots. In the scene, those were Brian's hands, not Chris Brooks', that pull off the effect.
With the exception of the eye punch, Pussey was pretty cut and dry (a little dirt here & there), but J&B made some incredible scar effects on Pussey's back.
The character of Rocky gets (SPOILER ALERT!!!) killed in the movie, but returns. J&B did a great job creating a phony torso when he falls in a bathtub full of sharp, rusty utensils. During Rocky's demise (actor John Biebrich, brilliant in a pivotal scene), John actually threw up all over himself (which is in the movie). We were shooting real early in the morning (4am) and he had to hold a large amount of fake blood in his mouth for a long period of time...guess it was too much for big John. Mama Lalino's pasta salad wasn't sitting there too well, I guess! I always thought that someone was going to spew during the filming of FILTHY, but I never guessed it'd be big John.
Fermie was another challenge for the dynamic duo. We did extensive make-up tests on actress Sheri Lawrence to give her a nasty, wrinkled look, and it looks really good on screen. A big issue was her hair. John and I wanted a bald cap & strands of hair, but the effect wasn't practical at the time. Some Fermie effects ended up on the cutting room floor; in one scene, after Fermie licked the tied-up Dana Diamond, part of her tongue falls out. In another scene, she picks a boil on her bare bottom which bursts in a mass of white ichor. While shooting, especially outdoor at Hobbs Scrapyard, a constant consideration was Fermie's latex appliances melting. J&B did a great job maintaining her makeup throughout.
Dana encounters two "mannekids" when she first enters the garbage-house. Although not fully explained in the story (only surmised by Dana), the mannekids were actually supposed to be real children that wandered into Femie's world, curiously seeking a cheap thrill in the "haunted house down the lane". Little did they know they'd be scooped up by Fermie and stuffed. I got this idea from a Halloween show that Howard Stern did, about a father who had his dead daughter stuffed and on display in his house. I found that story really sick & disturbing & couldn't wait to write it into FILTHY!
The mannekids were real mannequins lent to us by the coolest chick on earth, Shade Burnett. Shade and I were separated at birth. Shade was a big help in lending us the mannequins for the film. We have since became good friends and she really is proud of her involvement in FILTHY. Shade also acted in the film as a biohazard cop.
When Dana first gets kidnapped by the family and is tied to a post in a bedroom, Pussey stuffs a cat's head in her mouth to keep her quiet. Brian made the cat head, which was a real evil-looking thing. After the cat's head gets stuffed in her mouth, Pussey wraps barbed wire around Dana's head to keep it secured. This effect was achieved by Production Designer Kevin Bailey who used soldering metal sculpted to simulate barbed wire.
In the same scene Dana gets 2 larvae grubs stuffed in her nose while Fermie stabs her with safety pins. The grubs were rigged to squirt green goo when squeezed. The results are quite effective!
During the Hallowedding sequence, Dana gets her finger chopped off by a cigar cutter, followed by a cauterizing of the wound by a lit cigarette. J&B sculpted and formed a phony Dana hand. In the cutting room, however, the results were more effective by not showing the hand.
In all films, happy accidents happen. Two that were particularly good were the hallucinations that Dana experiences during the "Fermie Disco Scene". We acquired two actors, Jason Morales and Jeannie R. Bass (who is lead actress Jennifer Bass' sister) who played "hallucinogenic ghouls" that Dana sees when she gets high off garbage odors. Jason is particularly scary, resembling a more hellish version of the "mannekids" earlier in the picture. Jeannie is unsettling too, looking like she fell into a pile of charcoal. Her stunning see-through blue eyes (all-natural, not an effect) added contrast to her darkened skin, to great effect.
As Dana's situation deteriorates as she is seated at the reception table after the Hallowedding, more effects were required. Dana throws up, drinks blood, and is served a noxious meal by MeatMan (see the MeatMan notes above).
She then endures a torturous ordeal by "bobbing for..." well, guess you'll have to see the movie to find out what she actually bobs for. Let's just say the effect was a convincing one by J&B. I believed Brian was used as the subject for this particular effect...
After the damnable bobbing scene, Dana is broken by...er- this is another effect that you'll have to see to believe. Let's just say she reaches her breaking point after it.
Wedding music plays and Leonard picks up the broken Dana, when his plan is foiled by cops who come bursting through the door. SPOILER ALERT...Leonard and Pussey are shot and killed(?) by the cops. For the squib effect we used special effects maestro RON KELLER who, with his team, safely detonated the squibs on Leonard and Pussey's body (bet you hated every minute of that, Ron; that's why we had to do Pussey 3 times...). The effect was wonderful, especially when accented by Sound Designer Eddie Sturgeon's gunshots.
Another effect that didn't make the final cut was a dummy of Fermie before she SPOILER ALERT!!! meets her demise. Again, the effect was scarier in one's mind than it was onscreen.
From script to screen, Joy and Brian's work was an invaluable element of the success of FILTHY.
- ANDY LALINO 5/8/03 (revised 7/12/2014)