Guest Blogger: Alumnus Jarrod Blanchard – “The Cemetery” Production Diary
The first meeting was terrifying for me. Being in a large group, despite knowing everyone in the room, made me quite uneasy. At first I felt unsure of my abilities, which always seems to be the case when a person’s skills are put to the test professionally instead of theoretically, but I knew I could rise to the challenge when necessary, almost like a monk who only uses his full potential in moments of extreme duress. I sat, leg twitching, waiting for the assignment to be given. I was allotted the blue foam prop fabrications, mostly the dummy weapons. No problem there, prop fabrication is a favorite of mine. After the meeting was finished, I felt a lot more comfortable with the idea, only to face a new stress: beginning fabrication.
Having not started on my initial task due to a few shortcomings, I was finally able to get to work on my fabrications. The menu: two blue foam hatchets used for injuries, a paint job on a stunt hatchet, and a paint job on a real hatchet. I also needed to run foam latex appliances, which isn’t that hard. Arriving at Tommy’s house, everyone began working. I got acquainted with my new surroundings and immediately began drawing the basic designs for the hatchets by tracing the original hatchet onto the blue foam block with a Sharpie. Using a serrated knife, I cut out the rough forms of each one and began rasping the edges until they were rounded. I will spare the details, but all-in-all, a lot of work was done on that day. For some reason though, my leg was still twitching.
Class today, but plan on staying late to finish the hatchets. Also working on the foam latex appliances. Co-op work is so much fun. Began coating the blue foam with wood glue in order to reinforce it. Too thin, I don’t like the way it ripples. Amidst all the chaos, I must say that despite my exhaustion, I feel more fulfilled than I ever have before, working as part of a team. I like the way I am challenged mentally to come up with creative solutions, such as the wood glue dilemma.
Class again today, working back and forth between school and movie. Came up with a solution to the wood glue dilemma. Cabosil and wood glue mixed make a spreadable paste that goes on like icing, dries like a shell, and can be sanded. Definitely writing that one down. Only a few minor things left to go and then I will be finished for now. I am going to set Friday the 27th through Monday the 30th for the effects-heavy days.
Me and Christine arrived on location at about 10:30 a.m. Most of the crew was still asleep, save for a few who were groggily wandering around. We were told that the night before that filming lasted until 6:00 a.m., which would explain the demeanor of everyone. The crew began to awaken around noon, just in time for the prep work. The afternoon scenes were all very effects-heavy so we all set to work. I was given the task of creating a latex skin to cover the cavity of a mannequin that will be filled with latex intestines for a brutal disemboweling by the lovely and talented Natalie Jean, our main antagonist through most of the film. I will admit, the dummy in and of itself didn’t look very convincing until we filled, skinned, and dressed it. Afterwards, it looked pretty convincing. The other dummy was a duct tape mannequin used for stabbing. Not much to that one. Beyond that, there really wasn’t must else to film that day, so the crew took a night to relax.
Christine and I awoke around 10:00 a.m., well before the remainder of the crew. I took a walk through the forest sets and took pictures of the campsites and sets for fun. After we returned, we prepared the most silent breakfast ever, being that most of the crew were asleep in the same room. After some time on the porch, I set to work prepping for the various scenes. That night, we were to film the hatchet scenes. The hatchets would not stay attached, which cause a bit of a problem. In the end, the very talented Adam Ahlbrandt filmed in a way that did not require the independent suspension of the hatchet, so it worked out. Next was the eye gag, Christine’s blood, sweat and tears. The shot went off flawlessly (so I am told). I have not yet seen it. Afterwards, the actress was completely exhausted and we wrapped for the night, 30 minutes shy of sun-up.
Sunday morning began just like Saturday morning. Tonight, however, was to be a big effects night, so prep work began early. We had three gags: hatchet to the head, severed legs, and decapitation. All went off flawlessly, save for the severed leg. This effect didn’t go off as planned and some of the set improvisation saved it. Another late night / early morning.
This was the day that we were leaving, so we really didn’t work that much on the effects of the day. This day was mostly devoted to cleaning up and preparing for the trip home, as well as collecting everyone’s Facebook profiles. I am happy to say that I now have the entire crew on my Facebook and plan on keeping in close contact with them. It was also a pleasure meeting Billy Gram, who plays the demon in the movie. Not only is he a nice guy, but also a very interesting and entertaining guy. I wished everyone on the crew a great career and I looked forward to working with them again. As we left, I instantly began to miss the hustle and bustle of the set and to this day cannot wait to be on set again!
By: Jarrod Blanchard ’11
Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program
View Jarrod’s work.