The Werewolf Hunters

“The Werewolf Hunters” is one of those films that came out of nowhere to me. It was part of a mini anthology horror short that I had written more than a few years ago. It had been a hot minute since I had directed a film of my own and had an opportunity to knock it out in a day of shooting alongside shooting some stuff for Kill Giggles and a promo for Louis Bekoe’s “Zombie Fried Chicken.”

By the time we got to my shoot, it was beginning to get dark. I know, why did I agree to shoot and direct a short after almost a full day of shooting. Having motivation by my filmmaking brothers from other mothers Jaysen Buterin and Louis Bekoe at my side helped. My script was only about two and half pages and makes up really just one scene though a couple shots I guess make up small scenes of their own. We began wide showing a male werewolf hunter entering a small stone cottage in the woods. I had the gift of having John Quade (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) director of photography and master gaffer from the industry to help me. Along with Aidan Ford as my AC/Key Grip, Louis Lando Bekoe and his wife Shannon on sound and pretty much anything else, and Joh Harp and Soraja Davis on Makeup and wardrobe.

We began with an exterior shot showing Michael Williams (werewolf hunter) enter the cottage and perform a ritual. Because the short is only 2+ minutes long we covered most of the action from each angle shot. We set up a 2k behind a tree, a kicker or two inside the structure and fogged the place up.

When the werewolf hunter is desperately trying to reverse the effects of a werewolf bite, another werewolf hunter (Margaret Alice) finds him but it’s too late. We took the scene all the way until Michael William’s character begins to transform.

After sfx makeup was applied by Joh Harp, we began the action sequence where the two werewolf hunters fight. This I pretty much got from a couple of angles and had enough to make it exciting. Michael and Margaret did an excellent job!!! Years of theater combat training behind all that. I love that we put a light in the small faux stove and pumped the fog through a large plastic pipe going into the bottom of it from the outside. Did I mention we shot all of this during a thunderstorm. Due to the professional level headed crew all lights were rigged safe and everything went great. We only stopped due to the storm for about 15/20 minutes.

For the transformation we shot a wide from outside the door showing the silhouette of the fully transformed werewolf. Addition to that we grabbed a close up of the Margaret and a few cutaways of her reaching for a weapon.

I enjoy a good shadow play.

For the scene before last, we shot an intimate scene of him dying in her arms revealing that they were more than just partners in the werewolf hunting biz. They played it perfectly and after a couple of takes we were ready for the Shirley Temple (last shot of the day).

For the last shot we were joined by some excellent extras in wonderful garb and accoutrements.

Though part of me feels that this was way too rushed I never meant more than to do a sketch of a movie anyway. It works in and of itself but sometimes wonder how it would feel if it was embedded in the initial idea of the mini horror anthology.

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Kill Giggles pt. 23

the last day part two
photo by Katherine Holmes

So we moved a mere few blocks down the street and set up shop at The Ramkat, an awesome music venue in Winston Salem. Myself, Jason Ledford and Thoren Claytor (Amazing Assistant Director) followed director Jaysen Buterin around the large location going through the eight scenes we needed to cover there.

In that same day.

The weight of what we had to pull off in such a tiny amount of time hit like a ton of bricks.

We began with a rock concert that is to be a part of a montage depicting Tommy and Eden growing closer. We had a minor issue with lighting in the beginning but got through it and shot some amazing footage. And yes, the director himself played drums.

We moved on to a bar upstairs. Tommy speaks with the bartender (Lee Troutman) and learns about a bachelorette (Christy Johnson) party with Eden and a clown (Shane Terry). We used green and magenta gels on our lighting and I got all my coverage off the job arm. I love giving the scene an extra bit of movement that adds to the emotional content visually.

Tommy encounters the clown for few terse words in the bathroom. Lighting this was fun. A great friend of mine, DP/Gaffer John Quade (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) joined us for part of the day. It was great getting some insight from him. Incidentally he is in the crowd at the rock concert standing right next to the happy couple.

We moved on to the bathroom entrance where Tommy and Eden almost run into each other. Quick scene but took a hot minute to set up. Just one wide shot, no additional coverage.

We then move on to Tommy and the clown having a coming to terms buddy to buddy discussion over several drinks.

Still at the bar we cover Tommy and Eden hanging out until closing time.

That green backlight is so great.

While we set up the lighting for outside, we left Dalton to second unit the clown strip tease at the bachelorette party.

Outside we covered some more dialog between Tommy, Kinky Dinky and Eden.

We did have a pause in production while the entire crew searched for a prop in a bush, but other than that, all went great.

A great moment was when we used a dummy version of Kinky Dinky that I am quite sure Michael Williams enjoyed chucking down the steps. It looked fantastic! Joh Harp and Soraja Davis’s hard work paid off!!!

Our martini shot for the day and for general production was an awesome GoPro POV shot of the poor clown tumbling down the concrete steps.

we’re finished/photo by Katherine Holmes

So proud of this film and everyone that took part in making it come to life!

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Kill Giggles pt. 22

the last day part one

No one knew the depths of reason we would soar past on this day.

the food is so good here

No one knew.

bts footage/Katherine Holmes

I had planned to do this since day one. Thank you so much Marisol for the excellent makeup job!!! After Jaysen got over his initial shock we quickly got the set lit and blocked.

What a great camera team!!!

The scene was a dialog scene mainly with four people until one of those pesky clowns (Melissa Eastwood) shows up trying to brighten up everyone’s day with balloons. Tommy wasn’t having it.

We moved from the wide to a close two shot of each side of the table. Below you can check out the lighting change on Tommy as his emotional level rises in the scene.

After the 2 shots, we moved on to close ups. Most of the coverage was fairly standard and I also had B camera rolling the entire time.

The red light just for Tommy was gaffer Jason Ledford’s brilliant idea which we loved and utilized as we should.

Every time Michael Williams let loose as Tommy, the whole world stopped.

This scene took a bit to set up and execute but we got it in the can as they say (can refers to film canisters from the old days).

Our day was nowhere near done but at leas the final location of the film was a few blocks away. We were still unaware of how much more we really had to do that day.

Tune in next time for Ramkat madness.

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Kill Giggles pt. 21

The dinner scene with Eden and her movie star Mom, Deborah de Prima (Judith O’dea/“Night of the Living Dead”) represents the quiet before the storm in a production sense.

The scene is simple enough, dialog with mainly two people with a brief exchange in the beginning with a fan (Denny Nolan) of de Prima.

Me and Jason Ledford agreed to go with nice soft overhead lighting that had served us so well on this shoot so far. After he and his crew were done, the set looked amazing.

The shots were a wide followed by medium ots (over the shoulder) shots. We got a little additional footage from B cam courtesy of Dalton Pope.

So funny story. It was still daylight when we began shooting and then turned dark when we were in our second setup. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered the sunset. I was used to setting up dinner scenes away from windows when stressed on time. Needless to say we had to shoot the wide again. No big deal.

After the second go on the wide we were done for the day and looking forward to being almost at the finish line.

Little did we realize how grueling that last day would be.

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Kill Giggles pt. 20

last day of Asheboro flashbacks

We were back in Asheboro for the final time & once again found ourselves using the same theater location that we used the exterior of previously.

The space was impressive and we had plenty of time to set up. We used theater’s lights along with our own for a great look.

The scene involves a rehearsal for a clown laden musical production that goes very poorly. The director (C. Michael Whaley) leaves in a huff while the clowns (Matt Patterson, John Mazza and Christy Johnson) deliberate.

A & B Cameras were placed on the upper and lower levels for the wides and then we moved in for coverage.

The dialog coverage was followed by the entrance of teenage Tommy bringing his own brand of clown punishment. This needed to be blocked meticulously due to the fact that things can go wrong. Safety is all important.

The continuation of this pivotal scene involving a stabbing and a shooting needed to be rehearsed carefully.

We used a retractable blade and a billet hit was added in post. Jordan Blake and Tom Gore did a fantastic job.

The performances were realistic and well played.

We finished the sequence with close ups. “Don’t breathe Tom. Don’t breathe.”

For the Martini shot (final shot of the day), Dalton Pope broke out his drone and we got some great stuff.

We ended the day and we were done…

…until the next day.

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Kill Giggles pt. 19

Asheboro Flashbacks part 2

We began in the suburbs of Greensboro with a flash back of teenage Tommy (Jordan Blake) coming face to face with his greatest tragedy in the form of Bill (Tom Gore) at his Aunt’s (Tracey de Leon) home.

This was a great emotionally charged scene that was a lot of fun to shoot. The location was fantastic. Love the details of the older style homes. Very nice for the camera. I just wanted the look of everything being lit by the daylight pouring in through the windows.

It looked great no matter where you positioned the cameras.

We grabbed at the bottom of the steps to cover the entrance and exit of teenage Tommy which bookends the scene.

Next was a company move back to Asheboro where we began with a little robbing of the old liquor store (convenience store). I was pretty much on the fig rig for the rest of the day.

Followed by downing it (water) all while power walking the streets in broad daylight. Tommy was always a badass.

We ended the day with a scene of teenage Tommy continuing his aimless wandering until he happens upon a small theater (same theater we used with Felissa Rose) that of course yields in tragedy that we’ll discuss in the next installment.

Originally we were planning on doing a long take of Tommy approaching the theater back entrance.

I ended up cutting the bulk of it out because of timing and ended up piecing parts of it together with fades in and out of black. It’s a flashback and the tail end of a montage so the fades worked out just fine.

It was a long day and we finally got through. Time to go rinse wash repeat…

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Kill Giggles pt.18

Asheboro flashbacks part one

We have been planning this flashback scene for a while. After having visited the location ahead of time we planned it out like a military operation. Law enforcement blocked the streets for us and we were ready to go.

We were going to shoot a collision of 4 points of view into a horrific life altering crescendo.


The first scene we got standard coverage of young Tommy and his teacher played by our expert MUA (makeup artist) Marisol Feliciano Cotton.

On the reverse angle over young Tommy’s shoulder we got a great slow motion shot revealing younger Giggles (David Joy) drunk on a bicycle followed by Tom Gore and Nick Cannon in a red minivan.

2nd Unit Cinematographer, Dalton Pope brought his own drone and Blackmagic Design URSA mini which matched our A camera and got some fantastic footage. While A camera was shooting coverage from inside the van we utilized the drone from above. Having that birds eye view of the collision added an incredible dimension to the sequence.

The back of the van was incredibly cramped and hot, but we got our footage.

After we finished van coverage it was time to film the horrible yet beautiful crescendo footage. 2nd unit took care of young Tommy’s parents (Christina Nicholls & Jason Crowe) approach and reactions while 1st unit captured the approach of Giggles before he even encounters the van. Shooting out of sequence is necessary due to time management and ease of production. Shoot everything you need for that location and then move on.

We continued working as two camera units so I could get footage of the parents walking towards town and 2nd unit could cover the approach of the minivan.

We put the jib on the back of a pickup truck and were ready for our last footage of the day.

The jib shot from the truck dollie gave us some great footage and I must say it was fun to ride around town in a pickup truck. Reminded me of my high school days.

Next time, more flashback stuff. Stay tuned!

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Kill Giggles pt. 17

Location: Former Republican Headquarters transformed into Joey Z’s Clown Acadamy.

2nd AC Aidan Ford and st1AC Tristan Chaika snag some B-roll shots taking turns pulling focus in the process. I always think it’s good if time provides, to give the others in my camera crew some experience with any gear they haven’t had a chance to use yet.

We began our main coverage with a oner (a long continuous shot also known as a fluid master) of the detectives first meeting Joey Z (Jaston Pendry). Lighting had been rigged in the ceiling to give me complete 360 coverage. We played around with some colored gels to enhance the clownish feeling. The extras were all very talented. It was a lot of fun blocking this shot.

We shot a typical dialog scene of the detectives and Joey Z at his desk. I love to “dirty” the frame during dialog sequences. It just makes me feel more involved. Dirtying the frame simply means that while you are getting coverage of a scene involving more than one person, you place objects (in this case the other actors) close to the lens and out of focus. This has an effect of framing in the person you are getting coverage of for that shot. Like I mentioned before it also just makes me feel more a part of what’s going on.

For the shot of Joey, I dirtied the frame but for the reverse shot we went with more of a POV angle from Joey’s perspective. The detectives didn’t have too much to say in this scene so I just kept their coverage to a medium 2 shot. We also snagged a close up of Joey sans dirt and we were out.

We took it outside for a short dialog scene with the detectives and we broke for lunch.

After lunch we grabbed some shots in the back of the van. We started off with some clowns and ended with a tank and gas mask. Wonder what that’s for???

clown blocking
clown honking
gotta have that gas mask

So we moved back inside to finish the rest of our day’s coverage beginning with magic moving balloons.

So with three scenes left to nab we captured some collapsing clowns in some wides and close ups.

Followed by another detective scene with standard coverage.

At the end of the day we were down to a small crime scene that we faked part of the location for. The bear trap in the cream pie was a rather difficult gag to pull off but we did it and it looks cool in the movie.

Not the easiest of days by far, but we were through and only a whole heck of a lot to get in not that many days left for production. We’ve made all our days so far. Here’s hoping we can make them for the rest of the shoot. Tune in next time.

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Kill Giggles pt. 16

production day 14

Jaysen: “So I want to draw and quarter a clown. How do we shoot this?”

Jesse: “Umm… alright I have some ideas.”

I used to do storyboards all the time but hadn’t in several years. Generally they are used to explain to others the shot coverage of a scene as well as to convince folks to give their money to the cause.

Jaysen asked me to make some boards for our rodeo clown sequence so I did. See below.

Jaysen had scored a great location for us and it was time to shoot what we had planned long ago.

The crew took turns digging a pit necessary for the gag we were going to pull off that day.

With clown makeup expertly designed and applied by Joh Harp, Sammie Cassell finishes getting ready in wardrobe under the guidance of Soraja Davis.

The horses have arrived along with our second unit cinematographer, Justin Reich. He got some amazing horse footage for us.

I knew that there was a special shot we’d be doing at the end of the night and I wanted more height so we put the jib on the back of a pickup truck. Perfect!

We began with a quick scene involving the apprehension of said clown. I covered it from two angles and we were ready for blood. The next scene was to be the high point of the day.

We moved on to a fantastic scene with Michael and Sammie. I had a good idea for framing some of the coverage with Sammie’s clown nose attached to the camera.

It takes a while to set up the gag. After the hole was dug for the actor, a fake tear away body was placed in and set up by Joh and Soraja.

We were actually able to shoot the sequence twice. For coverage’s sake I also had three other cameras going. I pretty much used a little bit of everything in the final edit.

It was a fantastic shoot day for sure and no clowns were actually harmed in the process.

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Kill Giggles pt. 15

1st day of production block 2

After nine days off we were back on to begin the second block of production for Kill Giggles.

We began outside with a wide shot of the home of Klutzo the Clown.

The camera was on Louis’s trusty jib for a shot that moves up Tommy’s leg as he steps into frame and stops, ending with a medium shot of him scoping out the clown’s home. We had a light on Tommy’s back due to such a gloomy overcast sky that morning.

In the background we have protesting extras (crew members) and further back we have Klutzo (Adam Wulf) sneaking out of his house. We bounced some light in off camera for the protestors and set up some lighting hidden behind the house for Klutzo as he sneaks across the backyard.

We moved inside to cover Tommy’s breaking and entering. We found a good position to cover his entry into the kitchen and into the rest of the house. We had light coming in through the window creating some very nice window blind shadows.

The attic was incredibly hot. I remember sweating profusely as we set lights, blocked and ran the scene. I was very glad to get the heck out of there though I have to say we captured some intense stuff.

For Klutzo’s entrance, I placed the camera back in the same position as before to cover the action of him going into the bathroom in which much chaos ensues. I just have to add Klutzo’s look was amazing. Joh and Soraja did a stellar job. I wish I could show more but I don’t want to disclose too much here before you see it.

We ended our day with the quintessential detective scene. Love the lighting so much here.

We were ready for a little sleep and the looking forward to the days to come.

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