Local director Jason Moody has entered in “The 48 Hour Film Project,” a contest where more than 30 teams draw random genres and make a film in one weekend.
The film must include a specific character, props and lines to ensure they actually wrote and filmed the movie within the 48-hour time frame. This year’s contestants had to include a character named Chris or Christie Bowdoen, a former Olympic athlete, a cutting board and the line: “What am I supposed to do with this?”
When Moody’s team entered last year, they ended up getting the genre “holiday film” and the movie received the “Audience Choice Award.” Since the team enjoyed shooting in Delaware so much last year, Moody and the production company, Arch City Studios, shot his film here in downtown Delaware with a cast of local actors.
His team members even picked one of the most coveted genres — the one they desperately hoped the would get — science fiction.
“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” Moody said. “Our prayers had worked. This was our wheelhouse.”
The competition began at 7 p.m. Friday, July 29. As soon as they got the news, team members began constructing a plot and a loose script. They headed to Gameplay Unlimited on North Sandusky Street, to shoot their first scene that night. After they finished around midnight, Moody went home to finish the script, only getting an hour and a half of sleep before he had to wake up to shoot again at 5:45 a.m.
Team members began filming downtown again early the next morning. They worked with the city of Delaware, Main Street Delaware and Peter Brown of Arista Investments, getting good aerial drone shots of Sandusky and Winter streets.
They even successfully shot a major scene in the lot behind The Gazette, including 20 alien zombie extras, the main cast and two heavy-duty fog machines.
Local businesses offered all kinds of help, he said. Main Street Delaware let the team use its power; Donato’s of Delaware donated pizza to the team; and Gameplay Unlimited hosted their pizza party and permitted them to use the store as the set for a scene.
“The manager, Tom, was such a wonderful host,” Moody said. “He let our crew hang out inside the shop, eat lunch and get out of the blistering heat while we shot more scenes on the sidewalk on one of the hottest days of the year. He was so gracious that we gave him a cameo in ‘Need to Feed’ as a game store employee. He nailed it.”
Mark Fitzpatrick played the film’s villain, while his wife, Stacey, played the main heroine — Christy Bowdoen.
The cast also included three Delaware teens, Hayes High School students Jenna Fairchild, 16, and Eli Fairchild, 14, along with 16-year-old River Valley High School student Abby Utley.
They finished filming around 5 p.m. Saturday and shared dinner, donated by Delaware’s Chipotle, before going home to edit the film. As the hours of editing passed, Moody started to lose confidence in his film.
“A dreadful feeling came over me as I thought about the footage,” he said. “This movie is going to suck, I thought. We’re not going to get it done in time, and if we do, it’s going to be the worst thing we’ve ever entered.”
Early Sunday morning, when Moody woke up, his team showed him some more edited scenes and he began to regain a bit more faith in his project.
“I was beginning to feel a little more hopeful than the night before, but it wasn’t until Adam Story came over to deliver the theme song that I actually got excited,” he said. “As soon as I heard it, I knew our movie just had to be good because the song was incredible.”
“It was through the song that we finally came up with the title for the movie itself, and in a lot of ways it was the song that pushed us to keep going. It became our anthem as we continued to toil away in front of soft glowing screens.”
With the project due at 7:30 p.m. at the Gateway Theater in Columbus, Moody and his team scrambled to put the finishing touches on the film. They finished at 6:45 p.m., cutting it close.
“My wife, Sarah, had less that 45 minutes to get there, park and get the movie turned in,” Moody said. “At 7:27, Sarah texted us that they got it in. With three minutes to spare.”
Afterwards, they all sat to down to watch it, and Moody said that’s when he realized that it wasn’t as bad as he first thought, that he was actually really proud of it.
Inspired by films like “The Thing,” “The Goonies” and “E.T.,” Moody describes his film, “Need to Feed,” as a “retro-style B-movie” in which two kids find something mysterious in the woods. When they take it to show off at their local video game shop, an “alien-worm thing” emerges, infecting people in their town. The kids and their babysitter, Christy, have to fight for their lives against the incoming alien zombie invasion.
“We love sci-fi, ’80s movies and music, and we were able to create a kind of love letter to all of those things in ‘Need to Feed’,” Moody said.
“Need to Feed” premiered Aug. 9 at the Gateway Theater, along with some of the other films from the contest.
The 48 Hour Film Project award winners will be announced in September and the film will be available to watch in a few weeks on www.archcitystudio.com.