Jesse Blanchard is a self-taught filmmaker who only recently discovered what he describes as “the joys of horror films”.
Note: on that subject, John Carpenter says (on the commentary track for his Masters of Horror film Cigarette Burns): “Anyone who’s ever worked in movies knows the most fun you can have making films is in a horror film. Dramas are boring and comedies are hard, but horror films — the minute anyone brings out knives and blood and rubber, everyone’s going to have a good time.”
Blanchard mostly works on his own, taking on the role of writer, cinematographer, editor and FX man, as well as director. He’s made 43 short films in the past eight years. “My goal,” he says, “is to hit 50 before I start production on my first horror feature—Chompers 3D.”
But more on that later.
He has had some success with his short films. His documentary, “The Ranch”, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was invited to the Grenada Film Festival. His zombie mini-epic “Run For Your Life” was entered into George Romero’s Diary of The Dead short film contest (which attracted some 250 entries) and ended up in the director’s favourite five. These were put on the DVD of Diary of the Dead as a bonus feature. “I was especially surprised,” Jesse commented, “because he hates running zombies … and that’s all ours do — run.”
Today Undead Backbrain presents a fun short film that’s full of considerable zing, lots of style and bugs from outer space. It’s called “Space Bugs”. Blanchard describes it as “a practice run as I build up for my feature film — Chompers.”
It comes complete with funky theme music and extremely colourful title/credits sequences.
Mutant Bugs attack Portland, Oregon. A young girl rushes home to warn her husband. Will she get there in time?
History of Space Bugs
The original idea for Space Bugs was a ticking time bomb that shoots down from space and latches onto someone’s arm. The Hero then spends the next three minutes running through total chaos trying to get the thing off of him. However, I couldn’t connect with a 3D person to do the effects I wanted. So, I tweaked the idea into Space Bugs so that I could produce the bugs without any 3D work.
Originally, I was going to use LED lights for the bugs. I ordered a whole bunch from China and got heaps of hearing-aid batteries to power them. I was really excited about this approach and planned on throwing them past the camera and pulling them around on wires. But, another failure. The LEDs were not bright enough. I could either see them or light the set and see my actors. So, back to the drawing board.
Eventually, I ended up using a whole bunch of tricks including homemade ooze covered light bulbs, flares, flashlights, and one shot with LEDs.
The Bugs’ point-of-view shots were a ‘homage’ (rip-off) of Sam Raimi’s monster cam from the Evil Dead series. I tried to one up him by mounting the camera on a board two storeys in the air. This end shot flying into the house took a long time to get right. And I’m certain the neighbors were a little confused seeing me running over and over again at a house with my camera on top of a 16ft board.
I made Space Bugs completely on my own including all of the writing, shooting, editing, and effects. I’m practicing for my next feature Chompers 3D which will be much more ambitious, much more fun, and whole lot scarier.
The Production (from Notes to Storyboard) — click on the image to see the details more clearly:
Below is some of Blanchard’s concept art. Click to view enlarged image.
Undead Backbrain will be reporting on Chompers 3D as it develops.
- Source: Jesse Blanchard via Avery Guerra. Text and organisation by Robert Hood.
- Interview with Jesse Blanchard on The Horror Shack
- Jesse Blanchard’s homepage
- IMDb entry
Not to be outdone by George Romero, here is Blanchard’s zombie film, “Run For Your Life”: