Znakez – The Sequel to Serpenti

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The sequel to Serpenti follows a recovering Victim in his quest for revenge against the mystical, maniacal Divl.

What to say about our old pal, Znakez. Really this film was born out of the surprise love that Serpenti got during a classic Bryan Enk (Divl) film festival, and also because I needed to see these two characters again. This time, I opted to go full color, eschewing the film grain/bw filter of Final Cut. I know it makes it look more like video than film, but I actually think it works fine for Znakez. I also edited this myself via Adobe Premiere on my PC, which was a challenge as the footage took up more space than I expected. This was my first real foray into DV filmmaking, and I got me hooked!

Znakez was shot around and inside Stuyvesant Town, 1st avenue, and near the Beth Israel hospital. It’s amazing what we pulled off on a Sunday morning (Sunday, right guys?) in broad daylight post-9/11. This was shot in August of 2002, and I had a guy running through the streets with his face bandaged and a hospital gown and the only time we got in “trouble” was in Stuy Town some private security guard inquiring about a permit. After that, we quickly moved inside and yes, coated the walls in fake blood. THAT’S filmmaking.

As usual, Adam and Bryan proved excellent actors. I can’t say enough good words about the appealingly enigmatic Adam Swiderski. I love you Enk, but Adam ran through the streets of Manhattan half-naked and shoeless, and that’s a trooper! Enk, naturally, channeled the inner workings of Divl appropriately, always perfect in his walk, and his looks, and his mannerisms, right down to the Alien 3 inspired shot near the end. Other cast members are Brian Jacks, Tod Emko and Emily Melas, who appear as “znakez’d” innocent bystanders, though Tod also doubled as a photographer for behind-the-scenes shots. Notable shout-out goes to Jaime Boyaca, Jr. AKA the Suicide King, not only for his portrayal of a tortured artist, but also for rendering the CG heart monitor that I unnecessarily requested. I was deadset on using my new LCD monitor as a green screen. I don’t know why. I spent hours keying the fucking effect as I don’t get After Effects and Premiere that well, I’m sure on a Mac it’s infinitely easier (go f yourself), but that’s what happened. In any case, the animation was awesome, thank you JB.

The music was all me, and by that I mean, I utilized public domain or free samples from music CDs and re-mixed them. So the orchestra sounding bits were what they were, but the groovy techno Terminator-inspired chase music was all me jumbling beats together. DJ Eros in the house – wave your hands in the air, people!!! I can’t feel you!!!!! Yeah, enough of that. There’s another interesting thing about the music but I don’t want to put it in writing, so ask me and I’ll tell you. wink

In total, I believe we started shooting somewhere around 9 or 10am in the apartment, tackling Adam’s scenes, only to venture out into the wild and shoot for a few more hours, and then returning to the apartment to wrap by about 4 or 5 pm. What was most disappointing during the shoot was the absolute failure of the “blood splatter.” I had read a lot online about how to do gunshot and blood effects, but didn’t have access to “squibs” and certainly didn’t want to toy around with explosives. And then I read an article about how you can utilize a garden sprayer to create a blood blowback effect and after testing it a bit in the shower, I was optimistic all would be good.

Yet at the moment of truth, after rigging up sheets to protect the rest of the apartment from a blood explosion, all we got were dribbles. Disastrous. In the end, it works okay, but it could have been awesome with the real deal in place. Maybe in the Znakez: Special Edition. I rant long enough, but for those that card, this is only the second part of a larger story… the Empire of the original Trilogy. What comes next… should be interesting.