JA – If you, personally, ended up on a blind date with a horror creature which would you hope to have show up and why?
TP – No date with a monster ever ends well.
Either you die, or you become one of them.
I’ve always had a thing for mermaids, but I doubt ones in real life look as hot as they do in storybooks, so I’ll go with the three vampire brides from Francis Ford Coppolla’s version of Dracula.
Can I do that? Can I choose specific characters from a movie? Well, that’s what I’m going with.
JA – LOL. I think that works perfectly.
Can you tell me a little more about your film-making background?
TP – Making movies has been a part of my life, pretty much as far back as I can remember.
I think I wrote my first film at like 8 years old and had my own camera by the time I was 13.
The first movie I ever shot was a sequel to Child’s Play 3, called Chucky IV: Want Some Cheese. I was always writing and shooting things like that with my friends. They were all really bad films. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to make a film that people could sit through.
JA – From script to screen, how long did it take you to bring “Over my Dead Body” to the world?
TP – I read the script for the first time in October 2014 and we finished shooting in the middle of December. We had edited and finished the film by April 2015. What’s that? 6-months? Not bad, huh?
JA – Not bad at all!
What was the most challenging part of the process?
TP – The most challenging part of the process was shooting all the dialogue in the kitchen.
It’s hard to wrangle that much dialogue and keep track of what’s working and what’s not working, especially when you only have a few takes to get it right.
If I could go back and do it again, I would break everything down into smaller bits. But often you don’t know what’s the right way to shoot something until you’ve already shot it.
JA – How did you decide on the actors you filmed with? What kind of things came up in the audition process that made them the right fit?
TP – Oh, yeah, we went through a lot of casting.
I started with head shots because I wanted someone with a naturally interesting face for zombie makeup. I knew we couldn’t afford prostethics, so having a good face to start with was key.
I also wanted Richard to be instantly likable. The challenge with his character was making him zombie-like without turning people off.
I also wanted really good actors, so I looked at resumes to make sure they had either been trained or been in enough projects. Then we asked for video auditions. Everyone sent us videos of themselves performing parts of the script that I chose, and then from those people, I called my favorites in for callbacks.
I did callbacks both in LA and San Francisco on my own with a really simple setup. It was me, the actors, a room, and a video camera. That’s it.
I saw about 10 actors per role and paired them up several times because chemistry and romantic believability were crucial.
Pairing actors together ended up being the hard part.
I had a few great actresses for the part of Marie and a few great actors for the part of Richard, but some of them didn’t work well together.
Karina was really enthusiastic about the project and we had worked together on The Spirit Machine, so we kept in touch during the audition process.
I finally told her, “I like you, but I don’t have anyone to pair you with.” She enthusiastically called a few of her actor friends to read with her and I worked with them over Skype. One of those actors was Jeremy Mascia. They were great together.
Part of my process is asking actors to do it many different ways in callbacks. We have fun. We give ourselves permission to do it wrong. Completely wrong sometimes. And that’s okay. I’m not only feeling out what will work and won’t work, but I want to know if the actor is flexible. Both Karina and Jeremy were so great to work with, so flexible, and I really like them together. It was a pretty easy choice to make once I saw them.
Besides acting chops, what made Karina and Jeremy the right fit? It came down to believability and emotional depth.
I liked that Karina came across as a little tough, but also feminine, so she could fend this guy off without becoming Sarah Conner from Terminator. And Jeremy was nice, not too intimidating, so you could believe that Marie would warm up to him. And both of them could get to the emotional ending without getting too earnest with it, which is a hard thing to find.
We spent one night in Los Angeles rehearsing the script in my hotel room. I arranged the furniture to resemble the set we were shooting on, and we blocked the scene out, figured out what worked, and then I let them finalize their prep on their own, giving them a few exercises to fully realize the characters.
One of the things that I tried in the audition and rehearsal process that didn’t work (but I thought it might) was playing Richard as a zombie in transition: stuck between being human and having zombie cravings. It ended up being too much of an internal struggle. To make it work, we would have had to write that into the script, but it was clear from the material that Richard was a vegetarian and wasn’t struggling against zombie cravings, so we abandoned the idea.
JA – Wow! I admire the amount of care you put into the casting process. And it really shows in the final product.
Timothy, thank you so much for taking the time to share your work and your process with us here at Horror Made.