April 21, 2007 (Atlanta)--In October
2005, the Atlanta-based film collective, Fake Wood Wallpaper (Georgia
State University alums Alex Orr, Adam Pinney, Mike Brune, and Hugh
Braselton), began writing a script about a vegan schoolteacher who
is determined to discover an alternative fuel source after gas prices
have reached $40 a gallon. Pulling stories directly from the headlines,
Orr and Pinney agreed that high gas prices and the on-going political
conflict in the world was ripe material for a satire, as well as
a comedy and an indelicate horror film. The resulting film, Blood
Car, screens twice during the 31st Atlanta
Film Festival: Thursday April 26, at 10:00 PM and Fri, Apr 27,
5:15 PM at Landmark Midtown Theater. Tickets are available online.
"A car that runs on blood is funny,
but it doesn't sound like a story as much as just a funny gag. That
was where the challenge lied in writing the script; we had to keep
things moving and pushing the story forward, while keeping it funny,"
states Orr. "We needed it to be about the journey of the main
character, not just about a car that runs on blood."
Although Pinney and Orr are interested
in the political and environmental issues the film raises, they
treat them in a silly and comical manner.
Explains Orr, "The film's portrayal
of the government rejects the overbearing totalitarian force that
must be stopped, in favor of a band of idiots and whiners who shouldn't
be in charge of a water cooler, much less the security of a country."
Three weeks into the writing process
for Blood Car, Orr was in a hospital bed, recuperating
from surgery due to a cat bite to his right hand. If not treated
properly, the infectious bite could have caused Orr to lose the
use of his hand or the loss of his arm.
"There was something about being
stuck in a hospital bed all screwed up on pain killers and writing
scenes for Blood Car that went really well together.
I was in the hospital for a silly cat bite that spiraled out of
control and resulted in surgery, and ridiculous medical bills. It
was awful and really rotten luck but still hilarious when you stepped
back from it. I think a lot of that kind of humor went into the
script," says Orr.
Communicating through e-mail and phone
calls, Pinney and Orr did not let the hospitalization slow them
down. "One of us would come up with another idea for a scene,
write a draft, and send it out. Then we'd go back and forth tightening
up the jokes. A lot of times I would have to reel Alex in because
he'd get all pilled out and weird," explains Pinney. Orr was
eventually released from the hospital with nothing more than an
immobile pointer finger, and pre-production began on Blood
Blood Car set out with a $5,000 budget to be shot
on MiniDV. As Orr and Pinney started to gather up a crew, comprised
of former GSU classmates and co-workers on the Atlanta freelance
film market, the project quickly started to grow.
"When you ask people to work on
your little independent movie they usually respond with, 'how much
can you pay?' When we started passing around the script to Blood
Car, we got the opposite. People said 'Can I give you some
more money?' It was amazing," says Orr.
Even though Blood Car had
a supportive crew who gave them money here and there, the production
budget was a meager $14,000. The film was possible on this kind
of budget because Orr and Pinney did two months of preproduction
on their own before bringing in help. They scouted locations, did
extensive planning, shot lists, and casting all before anyone showed
up to help. "When you're broke, you just do it yourself. That
way when people show up to help, they see that you're really working,
and they want to be a part of that," says Orr.
As the December 2005 start date approached,
Orr received a call from Jon Swindall about stepping up the format
to HiDef. Swindall had recently acquired post-production facilities
that would enable the small production of Blood Car
to edit in Hi Definition. "I was against it. I told Jon that
I didn't know how to shoot that format, how we would post it or
afford the camera. Jon wouldn't have it. He said he'd invest to
get the budget to where we could rent the Sony CineAlta F900, and
we would post it through his company, Swindy Films. He said if the
film turned out anywhere near as funny as the script, then shooting
MiniDV would be shooting ourselves in the foot. How can you argue
with that?" says Orr.
production of Blood Car got off to a rocky start.
On the first day of shooting, after the last shot was completed,
Adam Pinney asked for "one more take." The take involved
the camera running at full speed, operated handheld by Pinney. Pinney
then proceeded to fall face first into the concrete, breaking the
camera and his glasses. After Pinney stopped bleeding and his glasses
were taped up, Orr thought that calling in the accident to insurance
would cover everything. Unfortunately the fledging film crew had
made some paperwork mistakes, and the camera was uninsured. Then
the broken $90,000 camera spiraled into insurance fraud. About the
time Orr got all this information, a key actor's mother called him
and pulled out of the film. The actor was scheduled to shoot the
"In the original script there was a huge subplot involving
the main character and one of his students. The child we cast had
rehearsed for weeks with us and was really great. The night before
we shot, his mother read the script in its entirety. After she read
it, she was horrified. She called me very upset saying that she
had to pull her son out of the film," recalls Orr.
That evening Orr and the production team scrambled to find a replacement
actor and fix the broken camera. "On any film there are fires.
You put them out and move on. Both those things weren't easy fixes,
but they got fixed with some begging and pleading," says Tony
Quickly after the film wrapped, Pinney, Jon Swindall, Campbell
and Orr started cutting the film and by late March 2006, they had
a rough cut together. "We watched it, and it was awful. I was
embarrassed. So we started hacking at it and rewriting scenes. We
cut out the entire subplot about the student and did a few pickup
shots to fix it," recalls Orr.
"We all have a very honest and a sometimes brutal way of critiquing
each other's work. When something wasn't working in the rough version
of Blood Car, one of us would say so and then we would
fight and argue. Eventually we'd come up with a solution,"
Blood Car, the first feature for this talented Atlanta
film-making group, has already won the New Visions category at the
2007 Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose and has been accepted into
the Sarasota Film Festival, Backseat Film Festival, European Independent
Film Festival, Another Hole in the Head, Faux Film Festival, and
the Jacksonville Film Festival.
(Images courtesy of Fake Wood Wallpaper Films)