It took over the course of four months, but in October, I finally wrapped principal photography on my zombie comedy/drama/ adventure film " The Dead Can't Dance," which I wrote, produced and directed.
It was an amazing, wonderful, maddening, exhausting roller-coaster ride. And it wouldn't have been possible without my talented and insanely dedicated crew.
When all was said and done, we:
* Logged 35 hours of footage.
* Used almost 200 people as extras.
* Traveled about 1,500 miles to numerous locations.
* Consumed 12 towering containers of cheese balls (it became a set staple).
* Caffeinated our way through 14- and 16-hour days with little or no sleep.
* Battled vicious allergies, poison ivy, flu, raging sunburns and acidic tummy aches (perhaps because I drank 13 Diet Cokes in one day).
* Used 5 gallons of fake blood — the smell of syrup has burned into my brain.
* Stabbed one neck and one head, intentionally — two necks (including mine), unintentionally. Oops.
* Endured ever-changing Kansas weather through rainstorms, blistering heat, damp cold and wind that could blow Dorothy's house away. Oh, and fog, too — but, that was from our fog machine, so I guess that doesn't count.
It was all an unforgettable, thrilling experience, even if my stress neared apocalyptic levels. But, somehow we made it through — without becoming zombies ourselves — and we had a blast. But, man, was it ever physically and mentally laborious.
Now we enter the next phase: post-production — and that is even more months of hard work. I've pretty much been chained to my computer editing most nights. I usually go to bed when the sun comes up.
Sometimes I just don't want to stop. I'm not sure if that makes me an obsessively dedicated artist or just plain nuts.
Speaking of, we went through three large cans of those, too.
Another Kansan film — Lee Whitman, a former WSU student who was back in town last month to receive the Elliott School of Communication's One to Watch award, premiered his first feature Friday at the Asheville Film Festival in Asheville, N.C.
Whitman, who now lives in Washington, D.C., writing and producing TV spots for the Pentagon, wrote and directed the drama " War Stories" in 2006. He was also executive producer and cinematographer.
"We're really honored to be a part of this festival," Whitman said on the phone earlier this week. "We just felt like our film would be a really good fit for their community."
The story follows a Derby teen (Michael Brenton Gordon) who grew up believing that his father died while fighting in the Gulf War. But after being assigned a research project at school, he is stunned to discover his father didn't die in the conflict and goes in search of the truth.
"War Stories" used more than 200 extras and more than 35 locations (including Wichita), and also stars Danielle Wolverton, Sara Hammond and Isaac Cervantes. Gordon and Cervantes, who live in Wichita, attended the festival in Asheville with Whitman.
For more information on the film, go to www.uncheckablefilms.com.