FLESHER

2019 / 81 mins
serial killers, paranoia

Two serial killers work together to skin their victims and sell them to an underground flesh market. When a sale goes bad and a buyer is killed, pressure from the organization forces the usually-methodical Flesher to take reckless actions that lead to a paranoia he can't escape.

"It's incredibly entertaining. I admire this film.
Wish there was more of it."

Doc Rotten, Horror News Radio

"Flesher is amazing. It's so insane.
Very gruesome. Super fun!"

Crystal Cleveland, Gruesome Magazine

Pre-Production

This story started out as a short film we did a few years back called 'As I Prey' that was well received and awarded. That film was about 9 minutes. This film is quite a bit longer and expands upon the same killer, some years down the road after he has perfected his technique.

We kept some the same video effects that we used in 'As I Prey', such as the pop-up windows that show the gory effects or important moments in greater detail. This is a difficult process as it requires syncing video that was not filmed at the same time. But we think the end result is worth the effort.

This was by far our biggest project to date. Beginning in 2017, John had the idea of continuing on the 'As I Prey' story. Although we were still working on our 'What Becomes of Us' anthology, John was already working out some of the story details in his head. The writing took a great deal of time and we went through many revisions before coming up with an interesting idea.

The biggest hurdle to overcome was the introduction of new lead characters late in the story. Their meeting with Flesher and Bunny had to remain completely random. So we could not connect their story lines to the main story until the third act. This presented a challenge in keeping the audience interested in these two seemingly irrelevant characters. Although it may seem so at first, they are not irrelevant. But you have to see it through to know why.

Once the story was written, we ran a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. We raised a good amount of money for the film, but we still had to cut a few big ticket items that we really wanted for the film...one of those being a quick trip to Arizona to shoot out in the desert for the buyer scene. Darn.

Nevertheless, we managed with what we had and after half a year of planning and arranging, the shoot dates arrived.

Production

This was easily both my most loved and most hated shoot. We had so many set backs it would have been easy to get discouraged during the shoot. But that's not something that works well on a set. You have to be upbeat and ready to go at all times. Dark moods spread to cast and crew quickly, which affects what ends up on the screen. There's no place for that. So we stayed positive.

We stayed positive despite not having working cars (we all drove prop cars, which were intentionally bad and sometimes didn't run), despite having rain and colder weather than we were supposed to, and most importantly, despite having 15-20 hour shoot days. We scheduled 10 shoot days for the film, based partly on what others have stated it takes to shoot 90-minute films, and partly on the availability of cast, crew, and our ability to take leave from our real 9-to-5 jobs.

It wasn't enough. We could have easily used three more days of shoot time. Some of the days we didn't sleep at all...finishing location clean up about 5:00am and having to be at the next location at 7:00am to start another day. An hour at a Waffle House for breakfast and coffee, then onto the next scene. But we managed.

And that's in large part due to our three PA's from Trident Technical College. They were fantastic. I cannot say enough about Stacy, Jacques, and Hailey. They were knowledgeable, available, and work-a-holics. We definitely would not have been able to complete our shoot without them. Even more, they were super enjoyable to be around. They helped keep the mood light and smiles on everyone's faces...an extremely important, yet overlooked necessity when filming. Thank you, thank you!

But the reason I really loved this shoot is because of what we accomplished. The video looks great, the locations are awesome, and the practical effects...wow! Sean Krumbholz gave us Hollywood-level gore scenes! I honestly didn't know what to expect when we decided to actually show characters getting their chest and face ripped off. I assumed we would have some cop-outs and cut-aways like 1980's horror flicks. I was amazed to see what Sean had in store for us. Truly amazing!

Post Production

This film, being our first feature length project, proved to be quite the challenge. There were just the two of us handling everything and it took the better part of a year to complete. Some of this was due to massive re-renders of existing color grades. Some was due to not realizing how much storage space would be needed to work the project (2.5 TB!) and having to work off partial drives by segmenting the work. And some of it was due to running into problems we hadn't seen before with shorter films, like consistent audio leveling/normalization and sound design. I can easily say that audio issues probably took 6-7 months alone.

We learned quite a bit and will rely heavily on this new knowledge for our next feature film.

  • You can't do everything in post
  • Sound is more important than video
  • Don't shoot near a construction site
  • PA's are amazing!
  • Don't color grade or denoise until the end
  • Allow as much time as possible for your shoot
  • Label footage!!!
  • Label footage!!!!
  • ADR is both very easy and terribly difficult
  • A good lapel mic is better than a good boom mic

Festivals and Beyond

The film did better than we hoped in the festival circuit. It was accepted into numerous events that our previous films would not have made, including our first two international appearances in England and Chile. It also won awards from festivals that we have had no prior involvement with...and that is a true win for me!

At the same time, because we are improving the quality of our films, we are submitting to higher level festivals. Receiving rejections from those are hard to take. We did get into a few bigger events and are very happy about that. It shows that we're on the right track.

Finally, we did not look too much into distribution this time, but we did have professional Blu-ray's and DVD's made. We have sold enough copies to cover the cost of the discs and are going to eventually sell them on this site. I have to say it's pretty cool to imagine a story, make the film, and then see the result on your movie shelf in a Blu-ray case next to 'Halloween' or 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Pretty cool indeed!

On to the next film!