Sunday, June 13, 2010

Smells Like Making Movies & Twilight of the Dogs

The first time anyone used a smoke machine around me, I couldn't stand the smell!

I asked John how he could stand it, and he said "It smells like making movies!"

That was when we were working on Invader. Later in the movie, I happened to inhale deeply during a crowd scene, and was hit with a severe coughing fit, but not long after that, I acclimated to it, and when we started on Twilight of the Dogs, and someone turned on the smoke machine, it smelled like making movies to me, too.


Due to some personal problems, although I took lots of photos while we were making Invader and Twilight, I don't have them in my possession, although I do own them. They're stored where I can't get to them.

But, not too long ago, Tim Davis, who did special effects makeup on Twilight and a lot of other things on Invader, as well as being in both films, put a collection of photos from Twilight up on his Facebook page and he gave me permission to use them here. So, all of the photos in this post are from him.

First, let's see the stars of the show:

That's Gage Sheridan, above, in the fabulous costume that Nancy Handwork designed and made for her. There was a blue jacket with a skirt that was deliberately designed so that it could be pulled though her legs, tuck into her belt and become pants. It was very ingenious, and Gage liked it! Gage played Karuy in the film (an alien). She's a really fun person!

Here's a photo of Tim Sullivan, who starred in the movie and also wrote it.

He looks really fierce in this photo, and well he should. This was taken on location at Laurel Sand and Gravel in Laurel, Maryland on a very hot day! He played Sam Asgarde in the film.

Above is Tim Davis on the left, and Tim Sullivan on the right, dressed for the movie.

I've been looking for some photos of Ralph Bluemke, but I'm not seeing any that actually look like him. Below is a photo of John Ellis, the producer and director of Twilight, on the left, and Ralph on the right. As you can see, the character he played, Reverend Zerk, was caught in a fire at the end of the film, and you can hardly see Ralph for all the makeup. That is all makeup by the way (courtesy of Tim Davis)!

Below is (l to r) Gage, Ralph and Tim Sullivan. I suspect that Ralph was in the middle of getting made up for the end of the film. I don't know what was going on with Tim at the moment. He looks like he's got a flight suit on.

Here's a shot of someone I don't know on the left, Ralph, Aloma Alber (who did out PR) and Gage. I'm pretty sure the guy on the left played one of the deacons.

Here's a long shot of Ralph as Rev. Zerk, and he's supposed to be playing a holographic video game. That looks like Alicia Sehring in the striped shirt, and Gary Waxler in the blue shirt.

Below, we have Tim Sullivan, Bambi, who played Gertrude, and Doug, who was one of the animal wranglers on the movie. We not only had Bambi the cow, we had Doug's horse, whose name was, I believe, Diablo, a dog (right in the beginning of the film) and some tame rats.

And here's Gage, milking Bambi. I'm sure you all really wanted to see that!

Now, on to the crew as well as the cast and what happened while we were filming.

Here's Tim Pace who was the gaffer for the movie. That means he did all the lighting and electrical work, or rather his company. Light Works did. Tim was the one who built the fabulous science fiction van and the R2 unit seen in previous posts about Star Wars.

Here's Tim Davis whom you've seen in previous Star Wars posts and who did the special effects makeup for Twilight. He's got stage blood all over his hands.

Here's Aloma Alber, who did publicity for us, dressed as one of the dogs. We had a lot of extras, but John tried to get all the crew into the film somewhere, mostly in crowd scenes.

Below is a crowd scene that I was in. I also got a close up in this scene, and it's the only place in the movies I've done where you can actually recognize me.

In the front row, second on your left is George Stover, who is famous in fandom. I'm in the second row from the front, the second from the left, and my friend, Wendy Joines is in there somewhere sitting near me. My former husband, Steve DesRoches is also in there as one of the guards with guns, but I can't see where he is in this photo.

During the movie, we crucified Gage's character, Karuy. That's Gage up on the Viking rune, algiz, which is a rune of protection. That's John, looking up at her with his back to the camera.

Finally, after the introductory photos, we're getting to the ones with the stories.

One morning, Aloma and Ralph were tiptoeing around and confering on somdthing, and generally doing all sorts of stuff. I kept asking them what they were doing, and they kept telling me that they were busy and not to bother them.

Eventually, I found them right before lunch with some fabric that was stiff as a board that they had soaked in Tim's stage blood, and they were very unhappy. After some coaxing, I eventually discovered that they had been trying to make a costume for Gage. They wanted one of the white tabards like the disciples of Zerk wore in the movie (see the photo above), but they wanted it red. I informed them that trying to dye a tabard red with stage blood wasn't going to work, but since they had just failed at that, they had pretty much figured that out.

So, with less than two hours left until they were supposed to film the scene where Gage was supposed to wear the costume, I set out to create a whole costume.

The first step was to jump in the van and drive to the fabric store (15 minutes). Then, I frantically ran around the store looking for red fabric and all the notions I would need for the costume. I found it all, got a length of the material cut for me, and dashed to the check out counter, where I desperately tried to hurry the woman there. She was very nice, and attempted to strike up a conversation with me. It started with "Ooooh, that's pretty material! What are you going to make with it?" I told here that we were making a movie and that I needed the fabric to make a costume for it, and that I was in a terrible hurry. But she wanted to know who would be wearing the costume (Gage), and all about the character she would be playing. I told her about Gage and that she would be playing an alien named Karuy, and she wanted to know what Karuy was going to be doing in the scene where she would be wearing the costume. All this while, I had been trying to get her to hurry. Finally I told her Gage would be wearing it in the scene where we were going to crucify her.

The woman looked at me with an expression of total horror, rang up the sale and got me out of the store in record time!

I rushed back to the set, and sewed the costume during lunch, and had it ready for them to shoot after lunch. Also, although Gage liked the dress, she couldn't seem to figure out that the costume had an outside and an inside, and  in some shots she's wearing it right side out, and in others it's inside out. Here she's shown wearing it the way it was intended to be worn, right side out. The cut on her face is some of Tim Davis' makeup.

Not only did we crucify her, but later we also gave her a funeral pyre.

That's not really Gage on the pyre that Walter Suarez is getting ready for it's big scene. Walter did all the pyrotechnic effects for the film. There was at least one explosion, we completely burned a wall down (we built the wall that we destroyed first, and left the structure it was in undamaged), and had the fire department out for a section near the end of the film where we had the funeral pyre, and where Rev Zerk gets caught in the fire and dies.

Here's the pyre going up.

And here's the fire stunt. I'm glad Tim took this photo, because I saw Ralph standing behind the fire screaming and writhing as though he was caught in the fire but this looks like they actually set someone on fire, and if they did, I missed that.

I know. You're thinking "How could anybody working on a film miss something like that?"

Well, the movie was filmed mainly at a tobacco warehouse in Marlboro, Maryland, which was pretty open and full of bugs and mosquitoes. We saved the night filming for the end, and did it all in the last two weeks of principle filming, which happened right around this time of year. I didn't know it at the time, but at the beginning of the last week of filming, I came down with Chicken Pox. I never had it when I was a kid. I was uncomfortable, and very tired and kept falling asleep, but didn't realize what was happening because of the circumstances.

Filming at night, we had a big problem with mosquitoes. Everybody was covered in itchy little red welts, so I didn't notice that some of mine were different. And since we were filming at night, I didn't notice that I had a problem with the light, except for every morning at 7 am when I drove home. I thought I was having a problem with my contact lenses because my eyes were all teary and smeary in the morning.

I had a raw spot on the side of my mouth, though, and John said it was a cold sore. I told him that it couldn't be because I'd never had Chicken Pox, but every time he'd go past me, he'd say "That's a cold sore." I'd yell after him that it couldn't be. After a week of this, though, it finally dawned on me that I actually had Chicken Pox. I missed the last couple of days of principle filming because of it, and when I told John he said "See, I told you it was a cold sore!"

Back to Walter and his explosive effects:

It's hard to see what's going on in this photo, but there's a railing in front of a big black board with technical looking stuff that's a background for the place Karuy's supposed to be infiltrating. You can see the bit of blue in the costume Gage's wearing toward the right bottom of the board, just left of the light near the center of the photo. That looks like Alicia behind the camera.

I was there that day (actually, the photo looks like it was taken right over my head) while they were shooting because Nancy couldn't be there, and they needed someone to sit there and watch Gage for discrepancies in her costume. For example, she was fine in most of the takes, and then, for some reason, the back of her jacket got flipped up, and I had to stop them for a second and smooth the jacket down so it wouldn't cause discontinuity.

Well, she was supposed to sneak in front of the board, and then be seen and have people shooting at her as she tried to take cover. The board was rigged with "sparky hits" which are tiny charges that throw off sparks and make kind of a "pppft" sound when Walter set them off with a control board he had rigged to set them off in order to make it look like someone was shooting at her.

We did the take, and John wasn't happy with it, and said something sarcastic to Walter about the sparky hits. something about them not having enough "oomph."

We all took a break while Walter re-rigged the board, and did the scene over. We started up again, and when the shots happened, I swear everybody levitated about two feet in the air, because Walter had rigged the board with real squibs, not sparky hits, and they are as loud as real gunshots, and since we were inside the warehouse, they were not only unexpected, but deafening!

Here's my friend, Paula, made up as one of the dogs.

And here's a group of the dogs from near the end of the movie. That's another friend, Bazil White, near the right of the photo with a black shirt and head scarf, and something long over his shoulders.

I don't recognize anyone else in the photo, but we put an ad in the newspaper for extras, so there were a lot of people I didn't know that played "dogs" which were supposed to be survivors of a plague aggravated by a nuclear bomb dropped to try to eradicate the plague.

The day this was taken was very hot, and in the afternoon, Walter came around with a half a watermelon he'd scooped out and filled with watermelon chunks, strawberries, and a lot of other very cold fruit. He was walking around offering it to people saying "Potassium, anyone?"

Walter was our explosives expert, but his father had a catering business, and Walter used to help him with it, and he did things like that for us every once in a while. One very miserably hot day, he surprised us with strawberry shortcake made with frozen strawberries, and the day that shot was taken of Tim Sullivan at the beginning of this post, he broke out a whole frozen watermelon for us.

About the extras, I was talking to one of them who told me that on the previous day she and some of the other dogs had stopped at McDonalds on the way home after filming, and the girl who served them tried to give them some coupons for very low cost meals because she thought that they were really homeless!

The rest is random photos. Here's Gage in the mirror.

Here's Gage with some of Tim Davis' makeup.

Below we have Tim Davis and John Ellis.

Here's John making a toast to the crew and cast near the end of filming.

I probably have some more stories about the movie, but that's all for today.

Hope you're having a great weekend!


  1. Hi Johann,

    Thanks so much for this! I was one of the many extras in Twilight of the Dogs, so it brought back memories. Unfortunately, I never got to see the film. Is it at all possible to somewhere get a copy of it on VHS or DVD?


    Barry S. Rosenthal

  2. Hi, Barry!

    The distribution company for the movie unfortunately didn't consider themselves a DISTRIBUTION company. They seemed to think they were a branch of the CIA and did their best to not let anybody know that such a movie existed. They released it on VHS, but there hasn't been a DVD release at all yet.

    John plans to (eventually) get it out on DVD. He's currently tied up with finishing the Steve Canyon on DVD project and you can reach him at

    Scroll down and look in the sidebar on the right if you're on AIM. I think he's got an email address up on the blog, too. look around the site. I'm sure there's another way to contact him up on the site. John is also on Facebook, so you could contact him there if you can't find him anywhere else.

    I hope you get this. Leaving an anonymous comment means that I have limited ways to get back to you.

  3. Boo! Still looking for any copy of this movie. -Basil White

  4. Basil, if you read my previous comment, you'll find that New Genesis was published on a very limited basis on VHS, but never on DVD.

    John intends to put it out on DVD, but he's trying to finish up the Steve Canyon project that he's almost finished with. He's had so many catastrophes happen on the last one. Hard drives that weren't backed up crashing and taking almost the whole project with them are only one of the problems. The economy has hit hard, and currently, like a lot of people I know, he's getting along with things that would have been taken for granted 10 years ago, like electricity. Which makes working with computers really difficult.

    We will see what happens.