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Demonica Pre-production: Post Three

April 27, 2012

Chris "Turnip" Simmons

Before I get into today’s post I wanted to point out the there are auditions for Demonica this Sunday in Iowa City. If you want to be a part of the movie you’re reading about then click here and here. If you can’t make it to Iowa City this weekend then fear not. We’ll also be holding auditions the following Sunday in Ottumwa. For more info click here. Now, back to our story!

"Insane Mike" and Turnip

As soon as I read the first two drafts of Demonica I knew that there was a really unique and fun horror movie with black comedy elements on the page. It was just covered up with slapstick and all of the disparate elements of what “Insane Mike” loves most about 80’s films. I wrote thirteen pages of notes on things I thought could be tweaked and changed because it managed to ignite a creative spark in me that made me chomp at the bit to play in the world “Insane Mike” had created. I immediately wanted to do a draft of my own but, not wanting to step on toes, didn’t push too hard for it, at first. Eventually “Insane Mike” graciously allowed me to do so. I say graciously but, so far as I know, he could have been stewing about it but kept quiet. Mike’s a trooper.

Taking criticism on something that you worked hard on, something that you put your heart and soul into, is not an easy thing.  “Insane Mike” is  intensely passionate about the things he loves. He knows them intimately and holds them up as something to aspire to and the early drafts of Demonica bear out his love for 80’s horror-camp. So handing it over for someone else to work on and put their own spin on it is a whole order of magnitude higher on the “difficulty scale.” “Insane Mike” to his great credit did just that when he allowed me to do a rewrite on Demonica. It must have been doubly hard when the first thing I said I wanted to do with it was strip out all of the comedy out of his horror-comedy. As I said, Mike’s a trooper.

"Insane Mike's" 1st Draft

When I sat down to plan out the third draft I already knew there was a great horror movie there but some of the slap-stick had to be pruned away. Originally I planned to pull out all of the comedy but as I got more into the rewrite I found that there was an undercurrent of dark humor running through out, so I decided to try and emphasize a few moments that stood out. In the end, I think leaving it as a dark horror-comedy works best as the subject matter is a little silly. If we had taken it too seriously, it would have taken the audience out of the experience and. if that happened, they wouldn’t have been along for the ride to enjoy the scares that are most definitely there.

One of my biggest pet peeves in any movie is when they don’t spend enough time developing the characters and why I should care about what happens to them. Therefore my My biggest goal was to get to the heart of these characters relationships and interactions. Just because it’s a horror-comedy doesn’t mean that the audience can’t care about these characters as real people. Not only in whether or not they survive but in how their relationships develop between each other.

Turnip's 3rd Draft

The third draft was actually a pretty large departure from the first two. I completely rewrote it from beginning to end. While I kept the main story beats and the major events (and even some of the jokes) I really put it through the wringer. Some scenes I moved around or changed their order to better fit the narrative I was creating. In some scenes I kept the spirit but changed what happened completely. Some scenes I scrapped entirely. As I reworked the narrative, characters that died early on wound up lasting until the end and others that were barely heard from got a larger role. My focus was on nailing the structure and delivering a strong three acts.

Once the third draft was done (It only took me a week and a half because I was so excited) I turned it in to the group to see what they thought. Would they like the changes I had made or, more importantly, would “Insane Mike?” Tune in Monday Wednesday (Auditions update Monday) to find out!

Join us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as Chris “Turnip” Simmons relays the often rewarding but sometimes harrowing journey of an indie film from page to screen to release.

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