May 7, 2008
Shooting Begins in Ottawa Friday May 9 until June 3.
It's an invasion of "killer" B's.
The new film from Canadian independent production company Zed Filmworks, entitled Smash Cut, begins principal photography in Ottawa this Friday May 9 - and it's bringing a constellation of anything-but-mainstream stars to the nation's capital.
Directed by Lee Demarbre (The Dead Sleep Easy, Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter) and written by his frequent collaborator Ian Driscoll, the film's cast includes:
David Hess (Last House on the Left, House at the Edge of the Park, Hitch-Hike)
Smash Cut stars David Hess, best known as the lead in the notorious Last House on the Left (1972), the film that launched director Wes Craven's career. "For my money, David Hess is the most intense American actor working today," says Demarbre. "It's a real honour to be directing him."
Of adult film star Sasha Grey, Demarbre says, "Her onscreen emotional range is incredible - she can act better than most mainstream film stars. Plus, she's a genuine film lover - she knows more about Godard and Cassavetes than I do." Casting adult stars in Canadian horror films has an honourable precedent. David Cronenberg cast Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door) in his film 1977 Rabid.
Michael Berryman, most often recognized as the monstrous Pluto from The Hills Have Eyes (1977) is a late addition to the cast. Born with a rare condition known as hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, which prevents the formation of hair, fingernails, teeth, and sweat glands, Mr. Berryman is frequently cast in villainous roles. "But we have him playing against type," says Demarbre. "I think people will be surprised."
Smash Cut is a satire of the filmmaking industry and the challenges of independent filmmaking, with a story that draws on the filmmakers' real-life experiences. It follows the murderous exploits of Able Whitman, a horror-film director whose films are panned by critics and audiences alike - until he starts killing people and using their body parts as props in his new flick.
The film's premise is also inspired by the career and filmography of cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis. Known as "The Godfather of Gore", Mr. Lewis invented the gore genre - a precursor to the slasher film - when he directed Blood Feast in 1963. A personal hero of director Demarbre, Mr. Lewis deemed the script for Smash Cut "a hoot", and has agreed to appear in a cameo role. Ray Sager, who starred in Mr. Lewis' The Wizard of Gore (1970) will also appear.
The filmmakers are also making the most of their return to shooting in Ottawa by casting such local performers as celebrated stage actor Jesse Buck, Michael Dubue (frontman for indie-pop band Hilotrons) and soon-to-be-stars Jennilee Murphy and Guen Douglas.
"In spite of the excitement of working with a super-cool international cast, we wanted to include as many up-and-coming Canadian stars as possible," says Demarbre. "We're Ottawa filmmakers, and this is an Ottawa film. It's good to be splattering the nation's capital with fake blood again. It just feels right."
Smash Cut also to be a technological first as one of the first feature films shot in Canada using the new RED camera system (www.red.com). A high performance digital cine camera with the quality of 35mm film, the RED camera has up until now been used by only a handful of filmmakers, such as Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong), Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, Erin Brockovich).
"This is the next generation of digital filmmaking", says producer Rob Menzies, "bringing this technology to Ottawa, and expanding the number of people here who know how to use it isn't just good for us - it's good for the Canadian film industry."
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