Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Paper Rock Scissors - Zombie Fire Cold?

Well, Cat and I arrived early in Biddeford yesterday morning to do our part in the filming of Emptyhouse Films' new production, the zombie movie called "2". Makeup artist Christina (sp?) and assistant Ross Kearney set to work transforming us into hideous ghouls. I had several glass shards protruding from my cheek and was having some dramatic shading applied when suddenly word came that smoke was billowing out of a nearby door, and we'd better grab anything we wanted to keep, because there was a fire nearby in the building. (Photo by Chris Wallace of Christina in her trademark makeup - imagine my disappointment that I was losing my chance to look like this!)

Luckily this was a small cast day -- imagine the logistical nightmare if it had happened on Saturday, when over 80 made-up zombies were lurching around on the set with a gigantic filming and effects crew on duty. The three alarm fire soon had the mill yard surrounded by fire trucks, as the crew and the rest of us hauled all the equipment and make-up supplies out of the facilities to relative safety on the other side of the parking lot, and then again further around the corner as more trucks came in. We tried to make friends with the wind chill factor, but it was a difficult diplomatic manuever that failed for the most part. It soon became clear that shooting was a washout for the day.

I asked Andy Davis, writer/director of the film, if this was the craziest thing he'd had happen during his years of filming movies, and he grinned and said no, crazier things had happened for sure. I'll try to sit down with him later and do an interview on just how crazy things can get when you're an independent director shooting on a budget and on a tight schedule, and you are at the mercy of the world.

The expensive filming equipment and a handful of props were loaded onto a pickup truck, as most of the cast and crew's vehicles were trapped behind a yellow line of police tape under the fire crew's watchful eyes. The half-made-up zombies, including myself, dispersed to their respective homes, some as far away as Union, Maine (hi, Barbara and Jack!) after their vehicles were freed up, some almost an hour later.

News reports this morning stated that the fire occurred in a woodshop on the lower level of the mill yard.

I found some online video, etc, about Saturday's mass zombie filming, and Monday's fire, on a few different sites.

News-8 WMTW (ABC) has a writeup and video covering the fire, click here to see it. That report includes a short interview with Barbara Tibbetts, hooray Barbara!

Portland's WCSH-6 (NBC) has some video available. You just need to search BIDDEFORD MILLYARD on their main site, and you will pull up a number of reports, including two pertinent ones with the titles "Fire Breaks Out at Biddeford Millyard" and "Movie Filming Attracts Zombies to Biddeford."

To read more about the Riverdam Millyard, which has become a hub in the fight to revitalize the Saco River district's old buildings which are rife with potential for new uses, and to read more about Steve Sobol, the man that is making this happen in spite of the odds, please click here to view a PDF of a Press Herald article about the millyard which includes color photos and various interviews.

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