When an apocalyptic virus threatens to turn her father into a violent monster, 18 year-old Max must lead him and her younger sister, Ellen, through a perilous mountain range in hope of finding a cure on the other side. With Max willing to risk it all to save her father, and Ellen willing to do anything to protect herself and Max, the small family finds itself not only struggling for survival against incredible odds, but also being torn apart from within.
FLESH AND BLOOD is a genre short film that revolves around two key threats: the external threat of the virus (and the post-apocalyptic world that it has created) and the internal threat of a family tearing itself apart. We wanted to tell this story because we’re excited by character-driven genre films that are grounded in reality. Films like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, PRISONERS, and 28 DAYS LATER were all huge inspirations for the project due to way in which they were able to bring realistic characters and emotions into exciting, heightened storytelling environments. Similarly, though FLESH AND BLOOD is set in a world of “rage virus” infection, the film is grounded in the story of two sisters struggling to deal with an out-of-control parent, which lends the story an emotional truth not always found in genre films.
When we sat down to create FLESH AND BLOOD, the goal was to create a different sort of zombie film. One of the first questions we asked ourselves was how to deal with the issue of the zombies themselves. From the jump, we knew that we would be dealing with a virus that affects the living, rather than reanimation of the dead, and that the infected would be fast, not slow. From there, we asked the question of what could make the virus more realistic.
The first thing we hit on the was the speed of the infection. Because this is a virus that affects both mind and body, it seemed unrealistic that it would take hold in a matter of seconds. Instead, it made sense that the virus would need time to fully take hold. Alzheimers was one example. It’s not like you get “infected” with Alzheimer's and then suddenly you’re gone. Rather, it starts slow and then gradually takes over.
Other things we looked at to create the virus included alcoholism and people tripping on bath salts, which can both lead to delusions and unpredictable outbursts that may not even be remembered. From this toxic stew, we came up with a virus for the film that felt scarier than a typical rage virus, precisely because it takes time to fully develop. During that period, the infected person might seem normal much of the time, before finally flipping into full rage mode. The burden that this would place on the infected person—who might be normal one moment and a mortal threat to those around them the next—and on their family—who has to decide whether to stay and help or run for their lives—is the key issue that the film examines.
Other elements of the film were similarly grounded in reality. From the uprising in Ukraine, we took the idea of improvised armor, which offers protection in the form of layers of cardboard.
For the gear that the characters carry (backpacks, etc.), we considered what would be available in the wake of total societal collapse. Most likely, this wouldn’t be cool, hyper-functional military gear; instead, it would probably be junk from Walmart. According, all the gear used in the film is cobbled together from materials that would be readily available. SIMON, for instance, carries a frame pack made out of an ironing board with straps and various small bags attached, while MAX carries a bag rigged together from a baby backpack. This attention to detail extended to what the characters eat in the story, which is primarily cat food.
FLESH AND BLOOD is a story about survival, and we shot in environments that reflected that struggle. From the towering snow-capped peaks of California’s High Sierra to the alta plana and burned forests of the Tehachapi Mountains, we sought locations that would give the film a unique look. As a result, we got something that was both in line with the story and very different from what you’ll see in any other zombie film. With the help of the Arri Alexa, we captured some incredible images that go a long way towards setting the film apart from other projects of this scale.
FLESH AND BLOOD is an ambitious production brought to life by a team of emerging filmmakers and talented actors.
Clint Jordan received a 2002 Independent Spirit Award nomination for the title role in VIRGIL BLISS, which was nominated for The John Cassavetes Award and won the 2001 Atlanta Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. Other notable work includes MILK AND HONEY, a 2003 Sundance premiere; DOWN TO THE BONE, Best Director winner at the 2004 Sundance Jury Competition; PAPER COVERS ROCK, a 2008 SXSW world premiere; as well as commercial work for Acura, Fidelity, Jaguar, Lowes, IBM, AT&T and many more.
Hannah Telle an actor, singer, and songwriter who has recently gained attention for her work as the lead in the cult hit episodic video game LIFE IS STRANGE. She has also appeared in TV shows including SEX IN THE CITY and DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
Charlotte Alexis White is a talented young actor who has been featured on shows including GREY’S ANATOMY, LONGMIRE, and PRIVATE PRACTICE.
Merlin Camozzi, Writer and Director, is an MFA film director in his final year of study at UCLA, where he is currently finishing his thesis film. He recently wrote and directed the winning spot in the national Sprite Films contest, WHAT WE NEED, which ran on television and in over 3,000 theaters and garnered 3 million views on YouTube. He was also named to Variety’s prestigious 2015 list of "Students to Watch."
Julia Swain, Cinematographer, has shot numerous features, including James Franco’s KILLING ANIMALS, and received awards including the Women in Film Foundation / Loreen Arbus Fellowship in Cinematography. The "See You Soon" (Michael Brun) music video Julia shot in 2015 was MTV’s #1 top new video for summer and she has shot for other networks including VH1, ESPN, and Adult Swim.
Rick Perry, Production Designer, is a director and production designer based in Los Angeles. In his art department roles, Rick has worked on over 100 productions in NYC, TX, Miami, Las Vegas, and LA. Most recently, Rick directed his debut feature in Beijing. Entitled WILD CARDS, it will premiere on China’s largest online video platform, iQIYI, in summer 2016.
Julian Scherle, Composer, is a German-raised, Los Angeles-based composer and producer. He has written music for the Golden Globe Winning show MR. ROBOT, critically acclaimed shows such as THE PEOPLE VS. OJ SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and feature films including the upcoming LET’S BE EVIL.
Tim Lewis, Producer, is a writer and producer with a passion for humanistic storytelling. Most recently he worked in the office of Academy Award winning producer Michael Sugar at Anonymous Content. Tim has an MFA from UCLA and is always looking for a good story. Prior to his career in media and entertainment he was a creative associate for the strategic communications firm Hattaway Communications.
Linda Riedmann, UPM, is an MFA student in the UCLA Producers Program. She has collaborated with a variety of film students on their short and feature projects as a producer, production manager and assistant director. Her most recent credit is Dry September (short, co-producer), a Faulkner short story adaptation starring James Franco and Topher Grace.
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Risks and challenges
This is a low risk project as the film has already been shot. At this stage all that remains is finishing post and getting the film out to festivals and beyond.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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