On April 14th, 2007, Manna for the Damned, a “zomedy” (zombie comedy) written and directed by Dorothy Booraem, began shooting in Lincoln, Nebraska. Manna for the Damned is a fifteen minute short about best friends Devon and Joe, who have been spending their time playing video games and fantasizing about the girlfriends they wish they had. After becoming hooked on the zombie-hero video game Manna for the Damned, they’re ready to get the girls and lives they want…by becoming real zombies. But their quest for human brains and hot chicks will test the bonds of their friendship and change their lives…forever.
“Manna for the Damned was an idea I’d been considering for a couple of years…” Dorothy said, “basically two best friends who believe that becoming zombies will make them cool and get them girlfriends. Shaun of the Dead beat me to it, but I think the “zomedy” (zombie comedy) is a great genre mash-up.”
Manna for the Damned is Dorothy’s latest project and continues her exploration of horror, comedy, sci-fi and low budget filmmaking in the Midwest. Dorothy and Chad, UE’s President and Co-CEO, have been friends and collaborators for years, and Chad was excited to be a part of Dorothy’s latest project.
“This was exactly the kind of project we were looking for,” explained Chad, who acted as DP for the project. “When Andy and I formed UE we were clear with each other about who we wanted to work with and the projects we wanted to pursue. Dorothy is a good friend and a talented filmmaker. Her skills as a producer and director were a perfect fit with our equipment and production model. We couldn’t wait to get started.”
Dorothy was excited about the collaboration as well. “When it came time to plan the production I was so excited that Unfiltered Entertainment wanted to be a part of it. Chad and Andy have incredible equipment and technical skills. I knew that with them on board, telling the story of Manna would be easier, more fun and would turn out a kick ass product. And I was right.”
Manna was shot over two weekends in various locations. “We shot at seven locations over what was really about 3 days,” Chad continued. “It was less of a challenge than I expected. We purposely collected a grip package that was as portable as possible. After this shoot I think that direction was the right one to take.”
Pete Lipins was brought on as production designer and Branden Poe brought his skills as an FX artist to the project. Both are talented filmmakers in their own right. Pete Lipins’ feature length film, Killer, is in post-production. His short, Dudeling, won the Audience Choice award at the 2006 Middle of Nowhere Short Film Festival. Branden Poe’s short parody, So You’ve Had It With These Snakes went viral online and was featured on the Snakes on a Plane fan-website in 2006. He is presently working on an hour long series of shorts that will run on the Time Warner Cable Public Access Channel.
“Pete and Branden were impressive,” said Chad. “Pete constructed some of the best sets I’ve worked with and on an incredibly small budget. I think that’s what Pete does best, creating the illusion. And Branden… the guy has mad skills. FX work isn’t his main focus, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the film. His zombie makeup is outstanding!”
The film was shot with JVC’s GY-HD250u, the newest addition to JVC’s ProHD line. “I’m really excited by this camera.” Chad volunteered. “It creates beautiful images at a price that even us little guys can afford. And all this talk about HDV not having the quality needed for serious production is just crazy. Look at the footage. You’ll change your mind.”
Chad used several techniques to get the shots Dorothy asked for including jib, track dolly, and hand-held shots. Chad also used this project as an opportunity to use some mixed lighting techniques to establish mood.
“I used mostly HMI daylight balanced lighting,” Chad explained. “I used them as a key light of sorts and on certain scenes, mostly exterior night shots, I mixed tungsten fixtures and practical lighting for ambient and back light. We ended up with an amber tone that brought an interesting, almost sinister, feeling to the shots. In the interior basement shots I left the overhead flourescents on and keyed with the HMIs. It created this great greenish edge that worked well to set a new mood for that point in the story.”
Dorothy was more than pleased with the collaborative results. “The shoot went smoothly and the footage was amazing – gorgeous color, atmosphere and framing. I’m really looking forward to post production with Unfiltered Entertainment and rocking it in the edit with their HD editing suite.”
Click Here watch Manna for the Damned on Vimeo.