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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [November 3, 2007]





[]  Several of 2007's Tabloid Witch Award-winning filmmakers exchanged advice and on-set anecdotes during a Q&A panel at the Santa Monica Public Library on Saturday, October 27th. The Q&A followed a public screening of their horror films in the library's Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

The participating filmmakers included Erasmo Romero III (Skin Deep), Paul Solet (Grace), CJ Johnson (The Signal), and Yfke van Berckelaer (Zombie Love). Actress Elizabeth Mouton was the official representative for Dead Noon, as its director, Andrew Wiest was up in Wyoming.

Solet emphasized the importance of a good script, especially in low budget filmmaking. "Writing a good script doesn't involve any money," he said. "Take the time to get a good script together. No shortcuts on the script. I also recommend not casting yourself. If you have a good script, good actors will want to act in it."

Romero agreed. "It's all about story. Good actors are looking for jobs."

Solet's script for Grace.attracted TV stars Liza Weil and Brian Austin Green, while Romero's Skin Deep.attracted the still unknown but talented James Rollyson -- who won the Best Actor Tabloid Witch!





"Filmmaking's a lot of fun," said The Signal's Johnson. "Don't let it stop being fun."

Even so, he allowed that filmmaking can at times be painfully uncomfortable. He recounted how his actors suffered while filming an intense gun standoff scene under the hot desert sun. "Their faces were so red.  One of the actors was crying because it was so hot. Tears were falling out of his eyes. Everybody who's seen the movie is like, 'Wow, his performance is really great! That's awesome! He's so great!' "

Johnson added that he did feel bad for his actors. "They had leather jackets on. They're dressed in black. I have a tank top t-shirt, my hat, my water bottle -- and I almost passed out!"

While The Signal's cast suffered scorching desert heat, Dead Noon's endured sub-zero cold. "We were filming in January," said Mouton. "In the dead of winter in Wyoming. Many days were below zero. We shot quickly because of the cold and the small budget.  [$4,000.]  We were all freezing -- but having the time of our lives! I'm not sure how that happens."





Another trial many actresses endure is performing before cast and crew in various states of undress. Mouton explained how director Wiest tried to make things easier for actress Lillith Fields.

"There's an intimate shower scene to introduce Lillith's character, with this snazzy porn music," said Mouton. "It became a joke. The crew were calling it the Obligatory Shower Scene that you must have in a horror film. Lillith got so much crap for that, Andy decided that he should have everyone do an Obligatory Shower Scene -- and they then were affectionately called the OSS's.

"One night, after shooting outside in negative whatever degree weather, probably 14 or 16 hours, we all came back at 11:30 or midnight. Then everyone -- every actor, the director, the visitors, everyone on the crew -- we all shot an OSS. It was more fun then anything! We just wanted to get as 'out there' as we possibly could. The visual effects guy [James Teague] was the best. He got into the shower with one of his skeletons. It was one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever seen!"

Mouton expects the OSS's to be included as a Special Feature when Dead Noon is released on DVD in 2008. They are also currently available on YouTube.

She also shared some advice. "From an actor's point of view, just be open to new projects. I live in L.A. and I hadn't worked for free. So I really had to trust that I had a really good group of people."

Yfke van Berckelaer related how an actress portraying a corpse created some minor havoc in the film school where Zombie Love was shot.

"The girl who gets ripped to shreds, she was dead on the table for two days," said van Berkelaer. "Covered in blood for two days, and that blood was sticky. So whenever she'd walk around, there'd be a trail of blood. She went to the bathroom at one point, and it looked like a complete and total miscarriage went on there.

"We wrapped at five in the morning, had to clean everything up. Clean the studio up, clean the hallway up, went home, forgot the bathroom. The next day I go back to school and there was yellow tape over the bathroom door. We just walked by. Nothing serious."

Van Berkelaer's advice to filmmakers: "If you have an idea, just make it. Don't be held back by budget."

The Tabloid Witch Awards are sponsored by the Hollywood Investigator to discover new horror filmmaking talent.


The Strain filmmaker Mike Doyle was unable to attend the October 27th screenings, but met with the Hollywood Investigator on Thursday, November 8th, to accept his Honorable Mention trophy.

If you haven't already read about our 2007 winning films -- read about them now!

It's not too early to enter our next search! We're reviewing entries as they arrive.

And if you're a filmmaker, actor, musician, or writer who doesn't do horror -- we want to hear from you too! Email or snail mail us about your project, and if we're intrigued we'll cover it or invite you to submit a report!

Copyright 2007 by


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