How We Made a Bad-Ass Short Film in Only Seven Days – Play by Play

“Toxic Bitch” is a seven minute short-film we created for the “Blood Moon Midnight Horror Film challenge”. The time allotted was twelve days. We finished it in seven, concept to completion.

Since we tend to gravitate to the artistic types, we thought it might be informative to submit a brief play-by-play on the timeline progress of making the film. That way you’ll know the inside story. So here goes…

(Friday Evening)– The night of the kickoff, we ran into Charlotte Lilt and Jason Wiechert. Amazingly, Charlotte wasn’t attached to any team, so we snatched her up. We already had Kasey Kempton and Heather Nance in the lineup, so there was our cast.

We literally had no fuckin’ idea what to do for a story. So Joey, Jay-Bird, Charlotte and I all sat down at a table and started brainstorming. We kicked around a few plot ideas but eventually decided to wrap it up and meet the next day (Saturday) with some fresh ideas. That way we could flesh out a script and set up for the shoot on Sunday.

That was the kicker: Regardless of what we had on Saturday, Sunday was the “shoot day” no matter what. That means, one day to write and set up. Meeting adjourned.

(Saturday)– Halloween. In the morning, I jumped on the computer and started slappin’ keys. There was no time to overthink or noodle with shit. This would be an exercise in “letting go” and trusting my ability to write something good. No overly descriptive stuff, just the basics. Keep the location convenient and the props accessible. After a few hours, I was like, “holy shit, this ain’t bad!” Not perfect, but I really like the ending…



At 4:00 p.m.,Joey and J-bird showed up. They loved the script, so we arranged the set and lighting for the next day (Sunday) Call time at 9:00 a.m.

(Sunday)– As actors arrived, each received a script for the first time, so obviously, we weren’t getting started right away. A chunk of time was needed for memorization, rehearsal, wardrobe, blocking, makeup and brief details. It was a late start, but we finally got rolling. The shoot wrapped around 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning.

We had to cut some corners trying to rush the final late night shooting, but for the most part, it turned out very well. The best part was we had an excellent mix of personalities. We all laughed a hell of a lot. In other words, it was a long day, but everyone had a really great time.

(Monday)– Woke up around 11:00 a.m. Started piecing together the footage and syncing the sound as I went along. Got a good portion of the rough edit done.

(Tuesday)– Worked more on the edit, mixing, recutting and tightening. Completed the full rough edit around 3:00 a.m in the morning (Wed)

(Wednesday)– Tightened up the edit, synced and equalized most of the sound. I started to sample and mix some music, but it wasn’t really coming together.

(Thursday)– Decided on the title “Toxic Bitch”. I needed to record some score, so I tried to hook my synth keyboard to my new computer with no luck. Joey and J-bird came by to check out the rough edit. J-Bird and I fucked around with some hook-up devices to try and get a music mix. No dice. Went shopping for alternatives. No dice.


Finally, we went to Walmart and picked up a lean steak, bok choy, tomatoes, and a few other items. We used our voice and the various grocery abuse to create growls, slaps, crunches, and the nasty, wet, squishy sounds needed for the gore sound mix. We ran it through my 80’s sound effects processor and into the zoom recorder. Worked like a charm. We grilled the remains with some baked potatoes for a tasty ending to a glorious evening of sound sampling.

(Friday)– Color graded the whole film, got the music stuff figured out, and finished the whole film around 7:00 p.m. Seven days, concept to completion, almost to the minute.

(Saturday)– We recorded the required “blood oath” intro for the submission. Sent and submitted.

We’re really proud of how this one turned out. We’ll post it on our channel later this month following it’s contest premiere on December 15th at Bar Smith in Phoenix. Watch for it now that you know the inside scoop.

Article by Ben Juhl – Dirt Capsule Films

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