That's a Wrap! Making Ombis with the amazing talent of Buffalo, New York.
by, 08-14-2012 at 11:49 AM (545 Views)
In 2010 I started a new phase in my professional career by making a film entitled The Final Night and Day, which was a mix between many iconic comic book stories. The film opened a lot of new and exciting doors which I never expected to happen for our newly founded studio called DefTone Pictures Studios. With this new foundation that the film The Final Night and Day had final made, the company named DefTone Pictures Studios became a household name in Buffalo and forever set a tone and a standard which as a professional I had to sustain.
DefTone Pictures Studios was officially established in 2003 when I made a series of short and feature films on a HI-8 camcorder while in high school. I have always been amazed when someone could make something from nothing and I really have a passion to entertain people. Over the years, I have made over twelve films both short and feature length so after the marketing success that The Final Night and Day, I felt firmly that I was not able to lay low for any length of time.
In 2011, we began work on our next film Ombis; a 1950's styled sci-fi movie set in modern times. It's the tale of an invasion by an alien virus which lands via meteorite in the small town of Metzburgh. Metzburgh is a former industrial town whose glory days are long past but whose residents are carrying on with their daily lives: loving each other and living life as best they can. In the midst of this idealistic backdrop, enter the hideous virus known as Ombis which is intent on taking over the Earth and changing its’ residents into a host for a new species. With this setting as a backdrop, I wanted to make a horror/ sci-fi film that really focused on the human struggle. The residents of Metzburgh are that human factor. They fight for their village and for their very survival. Keeping in the sprit of improving the studios’ abilities, we worked on a solid script for almost a year before shooting began. In addition, we made the executive decision to improve our equipment dramatically. With new equipment in place, the next step on the road to creating our next feature was to test out the newly formed DefTone crew and upgraded equipment by embarking on a controversial piece of art called Black Guy on a Rampage (trilogy) [available at www.deftonepicturesstudios.com]. This series of three short films equals up to a feature about one man’s vengeance to take on those responsible for the murder of his child. The original intention was only to produce a one-part film staring Alexander Sloan McBryde. However, as the story developed so did the productions teams’ interest in this unique character. Black Guy on a Rampage (trilogy) was made in only four shooting days which was a great challenge to the production team and actors alike.
Ombis screenplay was written by Janeen Avery, Terry Kimmel, Mark Mendola, and myself [Adam R Steigert]. With the marketing plan in place from The Final Night and Day, in March 2012, a year after the production was announced, we began principal photography. The film stars local talent which adheres to the DefTone Pictures Studios’ mission to unite local communities in order to showcase the Buffalo New York area.
Something that I think was very interesting from script to screen is how well we stuck with the script. In a lot of independent productions you sometimes have to alter your script based on what your ability to get locations is. Ombis has everything that the script references in it minus small dialog changes.
The script was probably one of the most ambitious projects on an independent budget, and I am more than impressed with what we were able to accomplish with twenty seven shooting days and a year of pre-production. Ombis has been by far the biggest budget production I have ever dealt with and we have a lot to show for it!
A fun fact about Ombis is we (DefTone Pictures Studios) almost didn’t make it. Last year a werewolf script was being worked on and for some reason Ombis popped into view. If that wasn’t enough, the budget for Ombis lost funding in the final stages before the production began. Luckily, we were able to find additional producers to sign on. As in any production, we’ve had our ups and downs and have stood firm against controversies and accusations. I personally suffered loss in my personal life while making the film. In many ways, the cast/crew and the film saved me.
The film has over eleven shooting locations. And if that wasn’t enough of an obstacle, pre-production on the film was extremely draining. If it wasn’t for Janeen Avery and the job she did, I am not sure how some of the film would have been made. I would say “Janeen, now we need a…(location)” and she would have to do daily homework to find out who to contact and what we needed. After she would schedule meetings with each location owner, we would dress up and give presentations to try and obtain the location. Trust me: finding locations was more stressful endeavor than making the actual film.
“Keeping it PG-13” was the saying we kept in the back of our minds when making Ombis. I want to bring a lot of new viewers in for the DefTone Pictures Studios movie experience. So the language and the graphic violence were toned down a great deal from what we did in Final Night and Day. One of the ways we were able to get around being graphic was by, instead of using red blood, using black/green blood for our mutants. However, we are true horror at heart and we didn’t completely get rid of some really terrifying and gruesome scenes! I felt strongly since we started filming Ombis that I wanted to challenge myself as a director in really trying to create fear when you watch a the film.
Creating a memorable cast wasn’t easy to do in the early stages. Some of the characters in Ombis have unique personalities and characteristics. During casting, I looked for many elements to bring to the screen. Some of these elements were comedic, seriousness, charm, and boldness. When speaking with Eric Haaf, one of the cast managers of the film, I made it very clear I wanted to showcase more of the Buffalo New York area. I also wanted to explore more of the abilities of talent I have worked with in the past. One of those people was actor Richard Satterwhite. When I wrote The Final Night and Day I actually wrote the part of Marshal in the film strictly for Richard Satterwhite to portray. I didn’t think he would have been interested in that role so I looked at other people to play the role. At the end of the day, Richard Satterwhite ended up being interested in playing Marshal and we were thrilled to have him. As the more we went into production on the film, the more I realized Richard had amazing talent and to give him such a small role in The Final Night and Day felt like a disservice to the audience. While writing the role of Sheriff Thomas Bracket in Ombis, I had a vision for a much different character than what Brackett ended up being and I had in mind another actor to play the part. But as the role grew inside the world of Ombis as I was writing the script, so did the character. With the growth we gave the character, I found this a great opportunity to explore Richard Satterwhite’s true acting ability.
Be it my crew members washing floors in police stations where prisoners had pissed all over the jail cells (the Hepatitis C Clean Up. Thanks Lindsay, Brendan and Janeen), an actor saying “See that hill? I want to roll down it….. One take” [Jason John Beebe (Mark)], extras screaming “Slime me!”, an actress turning towards the camera seeing a mutant directly in front of her and getting completely destroyed from the spit the creature gives off: the production of Ombis has been an experience to say the least. I remember talking to a lead mutant about getting shot with paintballs [Green] to simulate bullet hits and that actor saying to me “sure not problem”. Cut to three weeks later seeing this person and him showing off the marks still remaining on his chest from the paintballs. Simply every actor/ actress/ extra/ crew member that was on this production put a 100% in to the efforts to make the best film possible. Most of us have become a very close family. I remember Lindsay Zasada saying to me “shit, I hang out and hug you guys [Ombis Crew] more than my own family”.
When someone steps on a set of a DefTone Pictures Studios production, you get professionalism which one would expect on a Hollywood multimillion-dollar production. With that standard of professionalism on the production came new challenges which we all had to rise above. Ombis was the first film I, and I think many others on the crew, worked with real fire. We had have a fire department on set in case we had the wrong cross breeze take place and the woods we were filming in was to catch on fire. Our production team also created a lot of new toys to play with such as a dolly rail cart [Created by RST Machines], a camera crane [Created by Ruben Bugenhagen and Norman Queeno] and a lift [provided by Norman Queeno].
Did you know Ombis has a makeup effects department? I hope you did because if you have seen any of the pictures of the slime creatures, I would be very worried about those people if it wasn’t makeup! All the creatures’ makeup was created by Phill Beith and Jill Jovic who are recent graduates from the Tom Savini School of arts! You know the makeup artist that did the Dawn of the Dead (1979) Friday the 13th? Savini is a true pioneer in the genre and is a big reason why horror is so scary. I have been working with this makeup pair for the last year in preproduction and then finally during filming and wow! Scary at it’s best! (not Phill and Jill, I’m talking about their work). What these two were able to create on a budget such as the one we had is surprising and very impressive.
The Ombis production has taken me many places. This is the first film I have ever done festivals with. Not forgetting the film isn’t even finished yet. In May 2012, we screened a five minute clip of the film which had a great response. It was at this point of shooting where I began to think that if the responses [media, friends, family, cast, and crew] we were getting were having such impact that this film could be a huge success and huge achievement in independent film. At times the responses have been remarkable. A prime example is after we shot the town hall scene of the film and we made the local news, someone who I never had met before stopped me at a convenience store asking me to sign a news article. Months later, I was stopped three separate times by other “fans” in a local Wal-Mart. It has been very surprising what the community’s response has been to this project. I believe Ombis is a breath of fresh air that unites local communities in a time when it’s been needed most.
On August 11th 2012 the principal cast members took to the set for the final time. This time the atmosphere was a little different everyone there from cast to crew all having a new outlook on finishing that day’s work. The scene is the epic conclusion to the film. The attitude has always been we’re “making a movie” but at the end of that day we had “made a movie”. For me it was a like closing a chapter in a book with an ending I never saw coming. To everyone that has worked on this film, who have sweat, bleed, cried and totally exhausted themselves to make this film possible, I thank you. I have often looked around at the people that have entrusted me with their time, safety, and money and it fills me with overwhelming emotions that people could believe in a small town, self opinionated kid from Hamburg, New York.
For exclusive trailer from Ombis, check out this online igorslab.com article:
Next year I will be hosting March Night at the Movies Part 2: The sequel. If you have a short film you are interested in showing March 2013 drop me a line at email@example.com guidelines will be posting soon our site.
Ombis audio interview with me conducted by Tim Shaw, who also visited/ and did a cameo on the set of Ombis. http://www.theblackcatlounge.net/show-podcasts.html
Behind the scenes interview shot by Lori Cholewka on set of Ombis.
Exclusive Behind the scenes interview on set of Ombis conducted by Igorslab.com
Black Guy on a Rampage DefTone Pictures Studios latest installment in filmmaking is available.
Come visit cast and crew at the 2012 Erie County Fair Hollywood Collectables Tent.
Meet and Greet Times Everyday: 6:00pm-7:00pm
Tuesday 14th 2012: Sara Manzella [Lucy]
Wednesday 15th 2012: Patrick Mallette [Black Suit 1]
Thursday 16th 2012: Richard Winiatowski [Nemesis]
Friday 17th 2012: Jason John Beebe [Mark]
Saturday 18th 2012: Unannounced
Sunday 19th 2012: Unannounced
Find more out about my latest projects on IMDB
Currently in preproduction Jason John Beebe’s: To Release the Soul which I [Adam R Steigert] will be directing with shooting starting this September
The Legend of Holland Rd, directed by Aaron Bush and co-produced by DefTone Pictures Studios, begins shooting August 12th 2012, with a tentative 2013 release date.