Thursday, March 22, 2007

Glory Days

Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell
starring Seinfeld's Uncle Louie behind the mask (in undoubtedly leaner times)

Coming out of film school, I worked on a series of low-budget Indie films ranging from a full-length suspense movie shot on Super-8 to USC masters projects to honest-to-goodness low-budget 35mm genre films.

None of the films, as final products, were particularly memorable. But one, for the experience alone, has a soft spot in my heart.

I came into what was then called Blood Hungry --later renamed Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell by its distributor--during a vitally necessary reshoot. It seemed the low-budget monster flick was both too short and offered far too little exposed nipple for its running time.

So, our charter, on this second shoot, was to inject suspense, violence and nudity.

In a twist of cruel fate, it turned out the female star of the film was indisposed (ran for the hills? entered the witness protection program?) at the time of the reshoot. So, what was an industrious director to do?

Well, I don't know what an industrious director would have done, but the one I was working with hired a second woman, a woman who was more amenable to topless acting (see her front and center on the poster above), and then he proceeded with the shoot like nothing had happened.

As a jack-of-all-trades on the set, I was called to (among other things) operate the boom mic, lay dolly track, set up lights, and, later, edit sound.

One day early in post-production, long after all the nudity had ended, the director handed me a Sharpie and approximately 22 million feet of 16mm mag stock (sound track for editing), asking that I write the footage count every foot with the pen.

Now, for the unitiated, film sound labs had machines to do this kind of work. And they did it for perhaps 5 cents a mile of stock (exagerating a tad in all directions here, but you get the idea).

When I told the director in no uncertain terms that I wasn't going to be writing numbers on mag stock for the next thirty years, he told me I'd never make it in the world of film post-production.

And in a sense, I guess he was right.

P.S. The film was famous for a day when it aired on USA's Up All Night, a nationally syndicated show in which commedienne Rhonda Shear lampooned the movies at the commercial breaks.

P.P.S. If you should foolishly get the idea that this film might be bad enough to be a sort of guilty pleasure, forget about it. Guilty, yes. Pleasure? No chance.

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