SWORD OF THE DEAD: Samurai/Zombie Proof of Concept Film
SWORD OF THE DEAD: Samurai/Zombie Proof of Concept Film
After returning from exile a Ronin finds his home island plagued by a zombie curse. Think something like Yojimbo meets 28 Days Later.
After returning from exile a Ronin finds his home island plagued by a zombie curse. Think something like Yojimbo meets 28 Days Later. Read more
SWORD OF THE DEAD is a jidaigeki/zombie horror film. Shot in black and white. Spoken in Japanese. Feels like Yojimbo meets 28 Days Later. Sounds like a blend of the haunting synth nightmares of John Carpenter and operatic/orchestral themes of Ennio Morricone and Masaru Sato.
After a curse befalls an island in Edo period Japan, corpses left to rot on the battlefield during a gruesome blood war between rival Daimyos rise from the dead. A Ronin returns from exile and helps a group of villagers journey to the surviving Daimyo's castle to defeat him, free his prisoners and obtain transport and supplies to get off the zombie infested island.
Our goal is to introduce you to the tone, visuals and some of the bigger ideas we would explore in a feature length version while still delivering a satisfying and exciting short film that stands on its own.
The jumping off point for SWORD OF THE DEAD was a love of both the Golden Age of Japanese cinema - specifically the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa - and the Western cinema creation of zombies by George A. Romero. The influence that Japanese cinema has played on American cinema is incredible. The goal was to dissect these connections and find ways to inject the Western creation of zombies into a classic Samurai tale. Hopefully, in doing so we will create a unique cinematic experience that honors and expands on the rich history of samurai films and zombie films.
We have already completed production of the film. That's right! We still plan to do some VFX plate shots and pickup shots. This means with your support through the post production process, we can present the final version of the film sooner than normal for your viewing pleasure!
Shot on the Arri Alexa Mini with Cooke Anamorphic lenses.
Production took place over two days in late August in Carpinteria, CA.
Ten stunt performers portrayed the attacking zombies - led by stunt coordinator Hiroo Minami.
Zombie SFX were a mix of paint based makeups and custom designed latex monster masks.
MASAMI KOSAKA appeared in the feature films The Runaways, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Little Boy. His television credits include “What About Brian,” FlashForward,” and “Torchwood.”
ROME KANDA is an actor and producer, known for I Survived a Japanese Game Show, The Informant! and Unbeatable Banzuke.
STEPHEN VITALE (Writer/Director/Producer/Editor) has worked for Hasbro Films, 21 Laps Entertainment, Marvel Studios and Amblin Partners. His directorial work has been featured on Nerdist, Funny or Die, The A.V. Club, MTV, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, Geek Tyrant, i09 Gizmodo, The Mary Sue, Ain't it Cool News, Above Average, Bloody Disgusting and FEARnet. He was selected for SHOOT Magazine's 2015 New Directors Showcase where one of his short films was screened at the DGA in New York. His short film HOSHINO has almost 2 million views across platforms within the last year. http://www.stephenvitalefilms.com/
DAVID BOLEN (Cinematographer) is an award-winning cinematographer based out of Los Angeles, California. A graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, his main focus has been narrative and documentary storytelling. David was cinematographer for the feature documentary THE DROP BOX (2015) which was released across American theaters and became the highest grossing Fathom event of all-time. His work on the film GIRL BAND was in competition at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Outside of film, David has shot commercials/branded spots for Disney, Subway, Marvel, Walmart, Hasbro, Pandora, Target and Staples. Most recently, David has collaborated with production/management company Psycho Films, shooting music videos and films for artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Puff Daddy, and YG. https://www.davidbolen.com
HIROO MINAMI (Stunt Coordinator) began his career in Japan trained by Okinawa Go-jyu-ryu "SEIBUKAN" Karate under Master Masafumi Suzuki (1929-1991) and is a 3rd degree Black Belt (14 time winner in competition throughout 1982-1996). He is known for his stunt work on The Wolverine, John Wick: Chapter 2, 30 Days of Night and 47 Ronin.
CASEY WONG (Special Effects Makeup) is a sculptor, mask maker and special effects artist. He has been a special makeup fx artist for a number of projects in film, television and theme parks. Some of the zombies featured in the film were sculpted, molded and created by Casey. He has been mentored by Forrest J Ackerman (Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine), Verne Langdon (Co-owner of Don Post Studios), Dick Smith (Godfather, Exorcist, Little Big Man).
JOEY NEWMAN (Composer) is a third generation film composer of the famed Hollywood musical Newman dynasty. A drummer, conductor and orchestrator, he earned his degree from the Berklee College of Music. He got his start working in television, co-composing with Emmy-winning composer W.G. "Snuffy" Walden. For five years, Joey composed the orchestral score to NCsoft’s “Lineage”, one of the biggest online role-playing games in history. As a conductor and orchestrator, Joey has worked across the media spectrum including conducting alongside Michael Tilson Thomas and John Williams. Joey's music can be heard on the long-running hit ABC comedy "The Middle", starring Patricia Heaton, and the TLC docu-series, "Little People, Big World", for which his underscore was nominated for a Primetime Emmy® Award. Film credits include the multiple award-winning drama ANY DAY NOW (starring Alan Cumming); the 2013 Oscar®-nominated animated short film ADAM AND DOG, and Stephen Vitale’s viral Star Wars Fan Film, HOSHINO, starring Anna Akana.
SUEKO OSHIMOTO (Samurai Kimono Designer/Costumer) is an award winning costume designer and kimono master. She has designed one of a kind contemporary kimono costumes for commercials, television and film. Her designs have appeared in fashion publications such as Italian Vogue and in films such as “Swordsman” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
FRANK BUCKNER (Executive Producer) grew up working on films alongside his acclaimed brother George Hickenlooper (Hearts of Darkness, Casino Jack). He has worked on a long list of film, television, video games, and commercial projects and is a multiple MPSE Golden Reel Nominee. Frank has worked behind the scenes in Post under Todd AO, DreamWorks Pictures/Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Bros.
Risks and challenges
Our goal is to complete this film as close to the end of the campaign deadline as possible. We want to be able to share this with you sooner rather than later. That is why we went forward with production out of pocket. We feel very strongly that we will deliver not only an exciting short film but a piece that will build interest for the feature version. But we can only do it with your help!
To finish this film and to bring on the amazing post crew we've assembled we need to secure financing. Here's what's left to get done:
- SOUND DESIGN/SOUND MIX
- COLOR GRADE
- FINISHING AND DELIVERABLES
- (30 days)