This is going to be a sickeningly quick series of blog posts as I attempt to make an eight-minute vampire movie in twelve days, using only what I can borrow from the office and bribe my friends into doing. At stake, so to speak, is $1000 in prize money and, now that I’m telling you all that I’m going to do it, my honor. This is the contest; entrants are invited to make their own episode of the vampire web series The Hunted. The deadline is next Sunday.
Step 1: Research
When I first thought I’d go for the contest, I watched enough of The Hunted’s existing material to know that I could never touch their level of martial arts, but I felt like I could make up for it by having a script. With, like, an arc and stuff. Maybe some jokes. I did not, however, comb through the whole series taking notes; I was afraid that if I had their frame and scope in my head, I would only be able to rehash what they had done. I’m now second-guessing this decision, but it made sense at the time.
Step 2: Inspiration
My roommate Gina is a stage manager, and the very night I read about the contest, she was fretting about getting her actors to fill out emergency medical forms. A single line of dialogue popped into my head: “You know, ‘vampire’ is the kind of thing you should write on your emergency medical form.”
The thought merged with my recent marathon viewing of Slings and Arrows, a brilliant Canadian show about the trials of putting on a Shakespeare festival. My hero would be a mild-mannered and ruthlessly efficient stage manager; her opponent, an actor-turned-vampire. The play? Macbeth, obviously. I decided that the actor had just become a vampire and was trying to control his blood lust so he could spend another season with his beloved festival. I thought it would be funny if the director were totally clueless and the leading lady had a thing for the undead. Most of all, I wanted it to culminate in an awesome broadsword fight, onstage, as both the performance of Macbeth and my little film came to a head.
Step 3: Open a Vein
I used to write a lot of fiction—didn’t we all?—but it’s been more than a year since my last short story, and even that was a reworking of something I wrote two years ago, and so on. Vampire Macbeth, which soon had the more badass but less descriptive title “Blood Will Have Blood,” kept me up all night. That in itself was worth the cost of coffee the next day.
Step 4: Find New Vein, Repeat
Revising. Joy. I killed several darlings in the first round, including the line about the emergency medial forms. It is now a much funnier crack about rehearsal reports. I noticed that in a conversation about when to kill the vampire, both participants were arguing for both sides. Not good. I revisited my cut of the Macbeth text. (Show of hands: who here would really miss the line “For it hath cowed my better part of man”?)
With twelve days left until the deadline, the script isn’t done to my satisfaction, but it’s done enough. I’m sure we can revise awkward lines as we rehearse and film, and I should give the actors some time to prepare.
Stay tuned for “Then Came Each Actor on His Ass,” or, The Casting Process