a milestone in the production of "The Bad Seed"

“The Bad Seed,” my thesis film for my film and new media minor, is now in its fourth semester. It has hardly been a quick project. Unlike “felt,” which was written, shot and edited in less than a month (although it had been conceived at least a year before being produced), “The Bad Seed” will probably be just shy of two years when it is completed.

Part of this was in how it got started. I wrote the script back in October 2003, the semester I enrolled in an independent study film production course. Getting started was a major problem, as every time the project seemed to be getting momentum, something would come up and derail it.

The project just never would have happened at all if not for the people I’ve been working with. I first approached Lee Willet about playing the Bad Seed, who was then just known as “the villain.” I knew Lee from a broadcasting class the year before. I knew he had a lot of acting experience, I knew he had a steadily flowing imagination and he just seemed like he’d be a lot of fun to work with.

Joe Erdkamp, who plays The Samaritan, was basically my only option for the hero. Joe is huge and gets mistaken for The Rock – so he’s obviously perfect physically to play a superhero – but like Lee, he had experience acting and just had the perfect attitude and imagination to help me figure out the movie.

Rounding out the list is Scott Eastman, who I guess could be considered art director. I knew roughly what I was looking for as far as the basics of costumes and whatnot, but once Scott cut loose, he put together far cooler costumes than I imagined using the most mundane things. The costumes are kind of like sculptures, I suppose – he’s making interesting things out of materials that really have no business being used that way.

Anyway, brainstorming and bouncing ideas and receiving ideas from these three has been a more educational and helpful experience than I could really put into words. When I first got the idea for this movie, I was really excited about it and thought it was a cool story, but it would be nothing like what it’s going to be without the hard work and the input of these guys. Obviously you don’t have a movie if you don’t have the main actors, but this movie would never have been started if not for the persistence of these guys, making me get my act together.

It hasn’t been easy. The first shoot, during which more than 20 people donated 3-4 hours of their time, was almost a complete waste. The main camera malfunctioned and none of the footage was salvageable. A behind-the-scenes camera caught a good portion of the action, and pieces of that will be used, but nowhere near the extent I hoped for when visualizing that first scene.

The story revolves around four main scenes – the first one I just mentioned, an indoor scene in the Bad Seed’s apartment, a second fight scene and then the grand finale. One of our group brainstorming sessions spawned the idea of fleshing out some more backstory, adding a flashback scene as well.

In some ways, it was getting to be too big, but different ways of approaching what needed to be shot were making it surprisingly manageable. It’s hard to really give examples without giving away parts of the movie, but I can say that there are going to be aspects of this movie beyond the cast and costumes that will look really high-budget, except the casual viewer hopefully won’t even notice them as special effects.

Well Joe decided, after years of thinking about it, to finally move to California. And that gave us a deadline to shoot the rest of Joe’s parts. So yesterday, we started about 3:00 and shot til around midnight, getting pieces of the first scene, pieces of the final scene, and pieces of the flashback. It’s going to be amazing if the editing actually works out and everything pieces together just right.

Shooting last night, I was thinking about how probably the best part of this, beyond just getting to hang out with these people and make something with them, was watching the ideas and the project evolve with everyone’s input.

“Felt” was a fun movie to make, but you don’t learn a lot from working with puppets and Josh Harrison’s right hand.

One Response to “a milestone in the production of "The Bad Seed"”

  1. Anonymous Says:


    ~THE ROCK…

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