Hello Ghouls and Boils,
Welcome to day two of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out yesterday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director of the film. Today you get to hear me ramble on about my time on the set. There will be more interviews this week, a review, and more! Check out Flesh of my Flesh and get your copy today! Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Gerhardt
There I am. Zombie Sarah. It was the winter of 2005 when someone I knew came across an ad, a call for extras… for a zombie film! Knowing, in part because of where I grew up, that I always wanted to be a zombie they shared this ad with me happily. My eyes lit up with delight and I immediately called my best friend Liv and asked her if she and her boyfriend would like to become zombies. I knew she would. So we did. It was a very cold winter. The first shoot we showed up at there had been an ice storm. When we emailed about coming in they suggested we bring a few outfits to try for the shoot. I, of course, came with piles. As soon as wardrobe saw my pink wig, vinyl dress, and vinyl boots I was utilized pretty quickly. Liv and I became zombie guards of sorts and were having a grand old time! It was a long day. They usually are on low budget indie sets. While we were playing the hurry up and wait game, a common thing with extra work, there was an announcement made. They were looking for people to join the crew and help out with the production. Immediately my ears perked. I had been a lover of movies… horror movies in particular… since I was very young. Though I had only ever done some tiny extra roles here and there, I was definitely interested in trying it out. I walked over to the Assistant Director, Leopoldo, and asked him what they needed help with. When he mentioned 2nd AD I asked him to explain to me what the job was. As he was talking I could tell he was tired and stressed. It sounded like a position that was right up my alley. I knew I could do a decent enough job to lighten the load and I was already falling in love with the behind of the scenes work after a few hours. I said, I can do that… and that was it. I came in as an extra and left as the Second Assistant Director. It was pretty much non-stop after that for me. When I wasn’t working on set I was often working on paperwork or just hunting down people with the right look to be our zombies. Flesh of my Flesh was my world for the rest of the shoot.
I learned quickly what it meant to be held by magic. Sure there were many late hours, many long days… It was cold and rainy and miserable… But everyone there loved what they were doing and while many of us were new to filmmaking, everyone was quite talented and worked very hard. Most of all, everyone (pretty much) got along like family. So — even when faced with difficulties — it was an amazing experience filled with joy and love. There are so many fond memories that I could write for days and days and still not recount them all. Singing Brady Bunch with Heather Rose when the sun came out. Giggling when the cops were called about the zombies in the abandoned mental ward. Teaching the boom operator to see ghosts. Entertaining extras with games and prize. All the hugs and cuddling for warmth in the wee hours of the morning. Again… I could go on and on.
A hefty portion of shooting took place in Dammasch, an abandoned mental facility located in Willsonville, Oregon. This place turned out to serve us quite well. It was dirty, there was a lot of broken glass, dust, asbestos, and more… they were tearing it down around us. But, it was free (magic words for a low budget flick) and the space was perfect for what we needed. In some ways it was as if they left in the middle of the night. There was still medical equipment scattered around the facility. We found clean towels and socks with the Dammasch name sewn in. There were faxes and paperwork for patients. There was even a bed or two scattered about. Sean found the location through some ghost hunting pals. This didn’t surprise me one bit, because that place was filled with all sorts of weird energy. One of my many secondary positions on set was “set witch”. I did protection spells, smudgings, read cards and runes… We really needed it. (Fun fact: First ever IMDB credit as set witch!).
Fast forward quite a few years after the last day of shooting and we come to the release of Flesh of my Flesh. I was, sadly, unable to make it to the premier. I was not living in Portland at the time. But when I got home from a recent trip and found my copy in the mail I was so excited. I must have bounced up and down like a child with delight. I immediately watched it. I am so proud of all the work we did. There is some great acting, the practical fx are a ton of fun, the story is solid and cohesive… Are there things I would change about the job that I did? Perhaps… now that I know a little more about this kind of work… but what I did then was pretty amazing. I am beyond thrilled.
I loved everyone I worked with on that set, each quirky and weird and wonderful in their own way. I made many lifelong friends. It was such a great experience. It is the spark that ignited my passion for being more involved with my creative side in the community. I look where I am at today and know that, in a way, I owe it all to this little local zombie flick. I have been on other sets, but working with Edward — truly nothing like it. I am hoping he gets my butt back on a set soon. I am back home and I am feeling the itch.