NIGHT SHIFT was the only short I made that
I didn't write. It was written by a classmate at Jersey City State, Denise Kettman. It ran 10 minutes or less but I think
it was good.
How it happened is I just happened to be in one of Mark Eisenstein's
classes that day and he was splitting the students into groups to shoot short movies. Denise had this very hard to shoot script,
so naturally Mark came over to me and told me about it.
"Thats impossible" I said.
"Right. Want to do it?" Mark replied.
I agreed. I like a challenge. So I went over to talk to Denise who turned
out to be a very attractive redhead with a super smile. She was a respatory therapist but wanted to make movies. And Denise
wasn't only pretty, she was smart too.
I can't remember all the details but I remember that we shot it
mostly with Bolexs. It was
plus-X and Tri-X, black-and-white. (In case you didn't know plus-X is a
super fine grain daylight film stock and Tri-X was a bit grainer but still an excellent high speed night stock. Today the
new film stocks are so damn sharp and with such fine grain if you shoot Super 16 and blow-up to 35mm it looks almost
like you shot in 35mm to begin with.)
The opening of NIGHT SHIFT has actor Jay Andriani (KISS OF MEDUSA, INVASION
FOR FLESH AND BLOOD) reading a book in a house near a fireplace in the dead of night. He slowly grows tired and falls asleep.
This scene was filmed at Denise's house.
We shot scenes in a cemetery with Denise playing the robbed and hooded
white faced ghoul moving amongst the headstones, then shifted to my backyard for the rest of the shooting.
She had in the script that the ghouls were burying bodies wrapped
and tied in sheets.
I thought it would be cool to have a shot from in the grave looking up
as they dumped the bodies at the camera. So we built, in the shape of a dug grave, this mini house of 4 walls and when
a body was to be dumped into the grave I was in this fake grave shooting up and the ghoul was on a high ladder level with
the top of this fake grave throwing the sheet covered body down at me.
When the "Dreamer" enters this dream and watches the ghouls from
hiding, he accidentily makes a "snap" sound stepping on a twig and all the ghouls stop and look at him. He tries to run but
is grabbed and drug to the grave and thrown in. I put a sheet of glass so dirt wouldn't get on the camera and had a ghoul
shovel dirt down at me from his ladder post.As the dirt hit the glass, I
cut to Jay bolting upright back at Denise's house and figuring out quick it was just a bad dream. Angry, he throws the book
into the fireplace fire and as it burns he gets up.
I suddenly zoom in on his shocked face and then cut to a ghoul stepping
foward from a dark corner of the room. Another grabs him from behind. One ghoul quickly raises a big knife and stabs him.
At the crunch sound of the blade entering his chest, I cut to black screen and the credits.
It was a cute little weird thing that reminded me vaguely of the first
Amicus movie made in 1959 called CITY OF THE DEAD (AKA HORROR HOTEL) with Christopher Lee. I always enjoyed that witchcraft
movie and this had that same feeling to it. I have no idea if CITY OF THE DEAD was Denise's inspiration or not.
The resulting movie called NIGHT SHIFT was played on Manhatten Cable
maybe 125 times. It was short enough and inoffensive enough that it was used as filler alot. I really didn't get any
positive feedback as to whether people liked it or not, but if they thought it sucked I'm sure they wouldn't have aired it
that many times.
One funny thing I do remember was the night we shot the ghouls grabbing
Jay and throwing him in the grave. In all the filming up to that point Jay had a beard, but he shaved it off before coming
to the shoot that night.
"Jay, where the hell is your beard!!??!" I said politely :o) .
"Just do an effect, y'know?" he responded.
I ended up shredding a wig and using vasoline to attach a fake beard
to Jay which worked but was a rush emergency kind of thing I would have done right if I had the time. You never know where
the next problem is going to come from and alot of making movies is coming up with fast answers to sudden problems that keep
Denise and I fell in love during the filming and it was intense for awhile
and there was even talk of marriage and looking at rings but the idea of me having to quit doing the movies and work for her
father and she already had a house picked out gave me alot of second thoughts and I broke off with her.
She was a very nice person and the split was friendly I think. She ended
up, I was told, in Florida married to a doctor.
I have never married and I think one of the reasons is I never found
a woman who was truly supportive of my goals. It always, not matter what they said at the beginning, ended up with them asking
me to quit making movies and take any job and support them and be an average nobody, another brick in the wall. Thats too
high a price to pay for me. The quickest way to end a relationship with me is to expect me to give up making movies. As I
said, making movies is part of who I am. I really hate the word, but I am an artist. "Artist" sounds so pretentious!