Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Building and The Blue Thing - Making The Death of Alice Blue

With blueprint in hand, it was now necessary that we begin the process of building this movie.  I say we as Alex Appel, producer and title character, was the other main instigator in the creation of The Death of Alice Blue.  Fortunately we had some collaborators ready to come on board.  These included Steve Thorne, Cinematographer,  Anthony Morassutti, Production Designer and Mike Stewart, Editor.  Together we had created several shorter format works which had gone on to win awards, screen at festivals and fill us with some sense of confidence.  These works were Elevator, a P.S.A., Everything Kills Me and I'm In, two independently made music videos, and a short called Good Stuff.  Through our working together we had developed a visual style and a sensibility.  We had also learned how to communicate effectively, in fact we had almost developed a whole new language.  We were lucky to find our line producer in Hartley Gorenstein, who had worked on I'm In.

We budgeted the movie at $300,000 Canadian.  A large sum for your average person, and we held no pretension that a government or other funding body was going to step forward.  Fortunately I had done well doing voice overs for commercials, and with savings from that, and a huge amount of credit cards, we had our first good chunk of change to go towards the movie.  Also fortunately several private investors came on board.  As is often the case with indie films, you think "if I can just get it into the can, I'll worry about post later".

Our location was key to making The Death of Alice Blue.  We had stumbled upon it during the making of I'm In, and it turned out the people in charge of this place were looking to get into the locations business.  They offered us a very good deal.  It was a beautiful old building at 100 Adelaide St. W.  in Toronto.  It didn't have too many tenants.  This may have been due to the fact that it was old: the elevators were slow and the decor was out of date.  It was perfect for our needs.  Furthermore we could occupy 4 floors.  This would save us money and time in not having to travel to various locations.  Each floor was dressed as a different location.  As an incredible bonus the building had an eerie and crypt-like basement, a location specified in the script, but one which would have proved hard to come by.  Within the basement was the oddest machine.  It looked like something out of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory.  I was told it was a "mercury refractor" from 1929 and it was meant to generate electricity.   Amazingly it was still operational, it powered one of the slow moving elevators.  The mercury refractor was a glass octopus contraption that held a blue jelly which would glow in bursts.  As soon as I saw this thing I knew we had to incorporate it, and we did.

We were not always lucky in finding ways to fulfill the script's demands.  As Alice's preternatural powers grow she unconsciously gains control over animals.  The script had it that after leaving a Goth club she is chased by vampires and local dogs come to her rescue.  This was quite a requirement for our tiny budget and timeline.  We found someone who had three dogs and asked the person to come to set with the dogs.  The dogs were never used, but the person was good spirited about it.  We covered Alice's control over animals using smaller and sometimes stuffed animals.  This is a reference to Dracula's control over feral beasts.

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