Our original project, though ultimately overambitious, was to create a short film portraying the conversion process that can be expedited by the promise (or perhaps threat) of impending apocalypse. Despite high hopes, we decided that a short film, given our limited resources and desire to maintain most of our sanity by the end of the semester, would not only be difficult to complete in the given time frame, but also would run the risk of compromising our intended impact/message. After much discussion and creative re-workings, we clipped bits and pieces of our original story from the script, and set out to put together an extended movie trailer. It’s fortunate that we made the changes we did, because after 15-20 hours of editing a 4 minute trailer, we both realized a film twice as long would have been too large of a task to undertake. We assure you that all of the juiciest and most exciting scenes are captured in this trailer, and, thanks to much creative brainstorming (and sometimes arguing) we managed to maintain our original story arc as well. Beneath our trailer you can find a synopsis and the original full length script. Enjoy!
The Mark is the story of two roommates, Jezebel (Whitney Porter) and Mary (Kaitlyn O’Hagan), who notice some very peculiar events taking place in the chapel beneath their apartment. Strange sounds, smells, and even stranger looking members of the rapidly growing group Carnum Deus seem to increasingly surround them as time goes on. The group is noted for their “marked” flesh; they look as though they are rotting away before death. The religious group, assured that an approaching storm is one of many signs that the end times are upon us, hurriedly seek to convert as many new members to the group as they can, with the promise of reaching utopia after apocalypse, which is set for just three and a half weeks away. Their message is powerful, captivating, and dangerous. Carnum Deus’ charismatic leader (Luke Eisemann) works tirelessly to convince everyone from college students to politicians to join him before time runs out. Mary gradually becomes immersed in the religion, reading information about the prophecy and the group’s doctrine of beliefs. Jez, one of the remaining non-believers, is convinced that she must stop at nothing to save her misguided friend. The leader drives onward towards the promise of salvation. Choices must be made, but when the time comes, the wrong decision might mean irreparable damage and devastation.
Project Themes and Background:
Zombies proliferate the American apocalyptic narrative, evidenced by the growing number of zombie films, TV shows, and games. Our goal was to use this trend in popular culture and reinterpret it, drawing from the Book of Revelation, other texts we read in class, and the themes of our class discussions. Zombies have often been used as an instrument of social critique, and we used them for the same purpose, and created a film that provides entertaining and meaningful commentary on the Christian fundamentalist’s apocalyptic vision. It was important to make use of ambiguity in both our visuals and our script in order to maintain a balanced perspective, while still remaining aware of our personal limitations to total impartiality.
The plot of our story draws from prophecies illustrated in the Book of Revelation. The subject matter (the end of the world) is fairly dramatic, but the use of exaggeration in our film allowed for a satiric tone, which we felt was more appropriate and realistic given our resources and amateur level of experience. As amateurs, we made use of instructive resources from academic articles on zombie films (such as Kim Paffenroth’s “Apocalyptic Images and Prophetic in Zombie Films”) to helpful “how-to make a zombie movie” articles and blog posts. Though neither of us had ever written a screenplay, we both entered the project with academic backgrounds in creative writing and film studies.
Whitney offered her previous experiences creating a short film and doing special effects makeup. She also possesses a strong aesthetic eye – especially when it comes to horror. Kaitlyn entered the project with basic film editing experience and the organizational prowess needed to execute the complex process of film-making. We both have clear areas of strengths and weaknesses, but we worked collaboratively on all aspects of the project from script writing, to editing, to casting, shooting, and finalizing our project in iMovie.
The script was written jointly, while both of us were present. We wanted to ensure equal input and the accurate reflection of each of our creative visions in the final product. During filming, we implemented the help of friends/fellow actors on set to perform technical tasks. Editing was also collaborative. Kaitlyn, who possessed a stronger background in computer programs for film editing, performed most of the cutting and splicing of rough material and sound editing, while Whitney worked on music and aesthetic editing. No matter who was manning the MacBook, both were present during the entire editing process to supervise and weigh-in on all final decisions.