Elijah "J Hexx Project" Rentes, Paul "Pilot Rai" Raimondo, Derek "Chopp Devize" Forsyth, The Godfada Chef, Libby Alderfer
The J Hexx Project, Rusty Ellison
Synopsis - It's Holloween and the gang wants to go see something scary, but they might be in for more what they bargained for from Aleister (J.Hexx), Can Hassan (Chopp Devize), Ren (Pilot Rai), Qua (Godfada Chef) and Desirea (Libby) get out of the abandoned warehouse after the Spirit of Champagne thirsts for thier blood?
WINNER 2007 Quick and Dirty Film Fest (Improv Export)
Shot on Location @ Doug Hoekzemas Warehouse
October, 2007 - Miami Improv Exports throws another film contest: The Quick & The Dead film fest of the Slasher genre. This time, Red Dawn pulls the title of the film out of the hat, “Champagne.” Perfect, another heroine assassin movie by the self-proclaimed female Tarantino, Red Dawn. Dawn secured Penny, an advanced Kung-Fu Martial Artist, to play the role of Champagne – the ghost of a dead hooker w/ a vendetta!
Little did Dawn know, her competition was former “Bulletfist” star Vanessa Rolfe teaming up with rival filmmaker Liza Trainer of Sticktowhatyouknow.com. Liza had worked with Dawn on numerous occasions.
Dawn and her partners from Underlab Studios (J.Vinazza, Chopp Devize, J.Hexx. Pilot Rai), got together and formulated the script. Dawn learned from The Los Angeles Film School’s Linda Cowgill that one should always go for the throat in a short film, and decided to use the most evil of all books, The Necronomicon as the means by which Champagne’s sprit is evoked. J.Hexx plays Champagne’s son Alastair who sacrifices his friends Has (Chopp Devize), Qua (Godfada Chef), Ren (Pilot Rai), Desirea (Libby Alderfer) in order to bring his mother Champagne (Lambert Ellis) back from the dead on Halloween. Champagne was murdered by her Pimp (Keith Martin Forman)
Chopp Devize secured the location of “an abandoned warehouse” at Doug Hoekzema’s artistic/architectural home/warehouse in Pompano.
Because the film contest’s production time was 30 days, the crew had sufficient time for pre-production. On a sunny Florida afternoon, Dawn and Jon happened upon Michael’s Art Store in Coral Springs. Since that the month was October, an elaborate Halloween area was sectioned off from the rest of the store which Dawn and Jon gravitated to and through the doors in the store to the Halloween section, it was immediately obvious that the story in Champagne had to takes place on Halloween. They came across many props such as: realistic Styrofoam skulls, fake severed arms, blood, make-up, etc… that they purchased w/ plans to use as special effects in the movie.
The day before the shoot, Penny completely flaked out and never answered her phone again so Dawn then had to call upon her sister, to step in as Champagne. Being that they have been making movies since their pre-teens, her sister willingly and capably obliged and arrived on set the following eve.
Dawn wanted the film to be “Film Noir, in Color.” The Panasonic’s DVX100b combined with the correct lighting, shooting 24 frames per second, and the rich color saturation helped her realize the desired look and style.
There is a scene in the movie which involves a castration and the crew needed a life-like penis to use for the effect. Masculine Chopp Devize (Producer/Actor/Lyricist), who usually does all of the special effects and blood-work for Underlab Studios’ projects, took it upon himself to buy a dildo from a sex shop and then cut it to make it look like a castrated penis. As he cut into and prepared the dildo for the silver screen, he muttered to himself “This is so fucked up…”
On the first of three nights of shooting, it started raining. This made for beautiful lightning lighting in the film, but forced the crew to go inside and outside to shoot in proper order but they still got it all done, while ruining a perfectly good shot-gun mic in the process.
Production went smooth as planned with Rusty Ellison as Dawn’s lighting director, Dawn & Jon on respective cameras, Chopp Devize on Special Effects, Stephanie Lozier on Make-up, and Doug Hoekzema as an excellent assistant. During post-production, Dawn stayed up all night editing then Keith Martin Forman arrived and sat beside her commenting and making suggestions. Dawn passed out on the floor of Underlab Studios while her filmmaking partner, J.Vinazza, stepped in and added very needed and movie-magic touches such as music, speeding up and slowing down picture, titles, and visual effects that completed the film and locked picture. J.Hexx and Rusty Ellison recorded a song for the original movie soundtrack and dispersed the song throughout the movie while doing the sound design at Reverse Polarity Studios in Margate, FL.
The film contest was held at Kevro Art Bar just before Halloween and Champagne elicited bemused horror and roaring laughter from the audience and won with ease.