Astral Projection

“Have you ever heard of astral projection?” “It’s when the mind steps outside the body.”

Many people describe astral projection as an out-of-body experience.  It usually happens to a lot of people when they are near death and they feel their souls leave the bodies.  Sometimes they can see themselves lying on the ground as their souls float above them.  Other people have these experiences when they dream and the body is in a state of extreme relaxation.  And there are others, a chosen few, who can leave their bodies at will and float around as ghosts.

In SOUL KILLER, the Soul Killer (and later, Natalie) are capable of leaving their bodies or astral projecting.  They are projecting outward their ethereal forms through their mind’s eye.  The Soul Killer’s mind is so strong he is able to do this, and Natalie’s mind is augmented by the power of her magic ring.  She wouldn’t have the strength to do it otherwise.

Ring

Astral projection is the central conceit of the movie.  The Soul Killer is able to kill people through his astral body.  As his body is not his physical form – in fact, it is much larger and more imposing, he is able to kill with no fingerprints or traces of DNA left behind on his victims.  In fact, the corpses are nearly flawless, and the police do not suspect any murder has taken place.  It also leaves the Soul Killer’s true identity a mystery.

I’ve never had an out-of-body experience before.  Have you?

Production Design on a budget

Production Design is one of the key facets to your film’s identity.

As great as your cast looks, you don’t want your film to be a series of close-ups. Showing off a beautiful set can really help your audience discover what your film is about and add depth and visual interest to the frame. Of course, as an indie filmmaker, you don’t have the budget to build huge, Hollywood-type sets –– so you’ve got to find them out there ready made.

On SOUL KILLER, one of the best sets turned out to be the magic shop because it was so colorful and richly decorated. The filmmakers shot in an existing store. The owners were incredibly nice, and, as you can see from the still below, the place was filled with interesting objects and bright colors: a crystal ball, colorful robes, and many New Age knick-knacks and trinkets. It’s busy and crowded.  The place felt very warm and welcoming, which was perfect for the character of the Shopkeeper (played by Barbara Goodson) who befriends Natalie.

magic shop

Another great set was the morgue, which was the only artificial “set” in the movie. It really added production value to the film.morgue

morgue

Every other location was real –– mostly apartments and houses of the cast and crew.   “We were the same age as the main characters in the film, and I wanted the characters to live like we did –– on a budget,” Writer/Director Bob Canode said. “We couldn’t afford homes that looked like a Pottery Barn catalog, so neither could they.  This meant there were some white walls in the film. It’s a big “no-no” in independent filmmaking to have white walls because they can look flat and drab, but, to me, it was truthful to how many people of our age and budget range live in Hollywood, so we kept them in there, breaking them up by incorporating a couple of paintings and pictures.”

For the Hawaiian party scene –– they used a huge backyard, which was very tough to decorate because the space was so big. The team bought a lot of props from a local party store, but it couldn’t begin to cover the entire space. It was very, very tough to fill up all that empty space. In the end, the actors and extras were dressed in Hawaiian garb (shirts or sarongs) and then strategically placed around the frame to fill the frame up. Occasionally some extras were placed close to camera so they could hide an empty yard.

Hawaiian

As opposed to many independent films which take place in one or two locations, SOUL KILLER actually had many, many locations, giving the viewer a flavor and impression of present-day Los Angeles.   The production shot all around the LA area:  Hollywood, Winnetka, Tujunga, North Hollywood, and Sun Valley.  They even made a special trip up to the Mojave desert, to shoot one scene on the El Mirage dry lake bed.

 

Interview with Cherish Hamutoff (“Alexandra”)

Cherish Hamutoff

Was there a film that inspired you to get into the movie business?

Gone With the Wind.  I always loved movies growing up.  I dreamed of being Scarlett O’Hara, which is so dysfunctional when I think about it now.  I loved that she was very strong and had a journey and she didn’t know who she was and she had to discover who she was during the film.  I loved the epic scope of it, too, the whole thing.

Can you tell us a little about the character of Alexandra? 

Well, like Scarlett, she is someone who is a little lost, but unlike Scarlett she found a more self-destructive path. Alexandra has a hard time in LA and lets LA take her down.  In her own way she wants to help others succeed but doesn’t realize she’s hurting them.  She means well and thinks her advice will help them succeed but doesn’t realize ultimately it will make her fail too.

How does Alexandra compare to Cherish? 

I like to help people, and I always have good intentions.  Alexandra is a bit more broken.  It was fun to play her.  Alexandra is smart, successful, and goes after what she wants.  Plus, she uses all her assets to her advantage.  She’s very capable person.

You have a great monolog in the film – how did you prepare for it? 

(laughs) That was a long time ago.  I don’t know.  As an actor, you make sure you memorize the material, know what it means, and know how it relates to the other characters.

 Did you have a favorite scene to play? 

I loved driving the fancy car (the Lotus Elise) – that was really fun.

Any fun stories from on the set? 

There was a scene in the morgue, where I had to lay down on the table, and the headrest that I laid my head on was very uncomfortable.  It kept digging into my neck.   I enjoyed getting that scene over with.

How do you think Natalie relates to Alexandra? 

I think Alexandra loves Natalie, and they’re kind of the same, at a certain point, but then Natalie chooses another path.  They have the same journey I would say.  Natalie is just 10 steps behind Alexandra.

 What was the scariest moment from the set? 

The scariest moment was having to perform the crying scene with everyone around.  It’s scary because you have to get into this emotional state, make sure to get the lines right, make sure you don’t mumble, and the clock is ticking.  The pressure is on.

 What are your favorite horror movies? 

I loved “Cabin in the Woods” because of its send-up of reality TV. And the “Scream” franchise is really enjoyable.

Anything else to add? 

I think the film turned out great, I think we did a great job with it.  Everyone involved was nice.  It was a very nice set to work on.

Color Scheme

One thing I love about making a movie is being able to craft  the way the world looks.  It’s not easy to build a big, expensive set on an indie budget – I found this out while making SOUL KILLER.  It’s better to start with an already great looking location and spruce it up.  We managed to do that with our shoot in Blarney Castle – a genuine castle in the middle of California (more on that another time).

But another way to craft the look of the movie is through color.  For SOUL KILLER, the primary colors are an icy blue – to symbolize the otherworldly feel of astral projection, and a light purple – that symbolizes Natalie (Kelly Chambers) more or less.  If you watch the movie, you’ll see those colors crop up a few times in interesting ways.

Horror movies are a great genre to really push style.  FRIDAY THE 13th has its blood red.  HALLOWEEN has its pumpkin orange.  So, SOUL KILLER has the icy blue.

Soul Killer

Another creative decision made when filming SOUL KILLER was to film it in a naturalistic style.  My favorite time period for movies is the late 70’s and early 80’s.  You had the gritty realism of the 1970’s mixed with the emerging dawn of the modern day special effects blockbuster.    So, all the flesh tones are accurate in SOUL KILLER – we didn’t push them into orange territory (which happens today on a surprising number of big movies).

Films are stories that tell an audience how people should treat each other (either consciously by the filmmaker or not).  Put another way, as a filmmaker you have a right and responsibility to tell an audience what you feel are the meat and potatoes of this world.  Like any good chef – you want your “meal” to look good – and coming up with a good color scheme for your movie at the beginning of the process can help do just that!

Editing Trailers

Kellyrun

Film trailers are an art unto themselves.  I love watching a good film trailer and the best trailers are able to encapsulate the tone and feel of a film into a 3 minute (or under) experience.  I’ve noticed that there are usually 2 types of film trailers – the “teaser” trailer, which usually gives you a quick glimpse into the movie – the stars, the genre, and some cool shots that kickstart the imagination of the audience.  A teaser trailer usually very stylized – sometimes you don’t even have the characters talking, just let the music and images speak for themselves!  Then there is the “trailer”, which outlines a bit more of the narrative of the film, and maybe follows the journey of the main character.

With SOUL KILLER, I actually had the idea of the “teaser” trailer while I was filming the movie.  I had pretty much cut it in my head, and I knew I wanted to make it mysterious and exciting.  The whole question of the teaser trailer posed was – who among our talented cast was the identity of the Soul Killer?

The next trailer of SOUL KILLER was made after the movie had been finished.  Because of this, it was a bit more challenging to create.  I couldn’t film any more shots – so I had to build the trailer from what I had.  It showcases a different side of the story, which I think is key in making a second trailer.  If it’s just a rehash of the first trailer with a couple different shots then it’s not as interesting.  In this case, the “trailer” follows the journey of our lead character, Natalie (played by Kelly Chambers).

As always the goal of a trailer is to try to give the audience an intriguing, exciting experience – but still hold back plenty for the film itself.  I hope you’ve checked out our trailers, and I hope they excite you for the film to follow!

Interview with Kathleen Newell (“Hope”)

CIMG1524

 

You play the character of Hope.  How was it playing her and who do you think she is?

It was fun to play Hope.  Hope comes from a small town where everyone knows one another & honesty is rule #1.   So, when she moved to Los Angeles to become an actress she quickly found through trial and error that not everyone is truthful or nice.   Because of that she sometimes has a hard time making friends or taking risks in life and she also wants to protect her true friends – like her roommate – from people who may be in it for themselves.  She still believes there is good in the world, but you have to be intelligent about the choices you make in life to stay on the right side of the line.

How did you prepare for the role?

Breaking down the script for me is always primary.  Each line gives a detail or insight into the way this person thinks and what they have lived through in the past to get where they are today.  From the script you can devise a back-story so that you really know who she is and what her goals are in life.  For Hope the hardest part to reconcile was the fact that she is a highly religious person who wants to make it as an actress in Los Angeles – two things that are not easily reconciled in the real world.

What was your favorite scene to play?

I really liked the scene where the Soul Killer is in the apartment.  It was fun to be in a horror movie scene because it’s quite different from the other roles I’ve played. …. I think that I’ve only done one other scary movie and it was a short…

How did you pick out Hope’s wardrobe?  I noticed you wear a lot of white. 

I wanted really innocent gentle clothes – Something that brought out her soft side.  Especially since she is the contrast to Natalie who’s attire is darker/bolder.  I think that Hope would be comfortable lounging in a long skirt on the couch watching a movie.

Any cool or fun stories from the set? 

We had so much fun making this movie; it’s hard to think of any specific parts that were better than the others.  I really enjoyed learning martial arts during the training for the final scenes (even though I was not the actress being filmed for these, it was so fun to practice along & watch the training).  I remember lying under the bed holding the dog’s leash so that he wouldn’t leave during one of Natalie’s scenes in her bedroom, I think it’s hilarious to watch that scene now and say, “There I am!  …under the bed…”

What is your acting style?

When I follow a strict style I really like Uta Hagen’s techniques for breaking down the script/realizing back story / relating to the character.  However, when I’m acting and filming I find that I always go back to Stanislavsky’s method acting – that was my first formal training for acting so I find that I shift back to that without really thinking about it.

You also did make-up on the set.  Can you tell me about that?

I have done make-up for fun forever, so I just naturally fell into doing that when I was in a play or acting for film/TV.  I love making up new characters using make-up, so my favorite is of course doing the death/blood/bruises make-up.   I’m really proud of how the make-up turned out when Natalie burns her hand in the pool – I have done burn make-up for stage before, but it’s completely different for film!

You did a great make-up job on one actor in the morgue.  How did you make that actor look so dead and lifeless?

I used Ben Nye make-up (“corpse” color, I think) and applied some shading underneath before so that it would blend a little more to create a more “horror” movie look than what you would see on television.  Mostly it’s just applying, looking through the lens, re-applying, looking through the lens.…always seemed like painting to me…

Are you scared of the Soul Killer?

I think anyone who is truly “pure of heart” need not fear the Soul Killer, Hope is a beacon of light in the dark city of Los Angeles.

….I, on the other hand, should probably be afraid of the Soul Killer  *smiley*

What are your other favorite horror films?

I really appreciate the classics like HALLOWEEN, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, etc.  I also like the more obscure ones like the LADY IN WHITE and HIGH TENSION (HAUTE TENSION) because they have a un-nerving suspense to them.  One of my favorites, which is more of a fairy tale/real world horror story is PAN’S LABYRINTH (EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO).  I could go on all day about different obscure horror movies that I like – wow!  THE EYE (original 2002 version) – SO SCARY!!!

“The Soul Killer”

That was the original title of the screenplay.  At some point along the way it got shortened to just “SOUL KILLER”.  If you recite the name of a movie enough times, eventually the “THE” just drops off it.

What is THE SOUL KILLER?  Well, you’ll have the opportunity to find out later this year, in 2013.  For now, you’ll have to keep checking out this website (www.soulkiller.com) or our Facebook page as we tease you with cryptic posts and trailers.  What a long, strange journey it has been.