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.