Over the last couple of months most of Petersburg has run into a zombie or two on the street. Why...because three of Petersburg's own have been making a movie. Heather Canik, James Hegar and Nick Johnston entered a contest for Amazon Studios in October and won a place in the semi-finals.
“I found this contest on Amazon around the first of September,” Canik said. “We decided to write for a couple of weeks and see what we came up with.”
Canik attended the Art Institute in Seattle for screenwriting and videography but Hegar and Johnston had no formal training in this department.
“This is the first script James has written,” Canik explained. “But they, Nick and James, are great at bouncing ideas off of each other.”
Canik did all of the editing of the script and has directed the short film to this point.
For the October contest, Dead End Job was a semifinalist for Best Horror Script and the next month was a semifinalist for Best Overall Script.
“This is truly amazing,” Canik said. “There were thousands of scripts entered into this contest... What's even more amazing is that it is James's first script.”
In May, Canik, Hegar and Johnston were contacted by a director who wants to make the script into a movie next year.
“We have been editing a lot and we are in the third re-write of the script,” Canik stated. “The director is hoping to start filming in the spring or summer of next year.”
This will be the first movie of this type for this director as well as for Canik. “I usually write comedy dramas,” she said. “I like to write about things I don't know about and try to learn something in the process.”
When the trio was contacted by the director, they began thinking about a trailer to pitch to studios in order to secure financing for the movie.
“We wanted to do something with it,” Canik said. “But we were just goofing around until we heard from a director interested in the script.”
What was supposed to be a two minute trailer has turned into an eight minute short film.
“We were offered professional camera men and equipment to shoot this film,” Canik said. “But I really wanted it to be a community project and that is exactly what it has turned out to be.”
With a budget of about $500, Canik and her crew proceeded to make zombie movie history in Petersburg.
“We spent about $200 on makeup and $150 on polo shirts for the actors working in the store,” Canik said. “We also bought coffee and donuts for everyone every morning and the rest was spent on random things throughout the process.”
Canik is the owner of the video store and is also involved with professional photography and videography.
“The video store is a perfect base for me,” Canik stated. “When it is slow in the store I have time to write.”
She explained that this may be a short film, but it is also a lot of hard work.
“I am editing and directing,” Canik said. “But I have help with the camera work. Brandon R. Thomas of the Anacapa, is shooting while I get to tell people what to do.”
The crew has one more short session to film before they can consider themselves finished, for now.
“We will film the last 10 seconds of screen time in the next week,” Canik stated. “I am hoping to show it at the Northern Lights Theater Thursday, Sept. 13.”
Canik is happy they have kept this as a Petersburg project. “This has truly been a community effort to get this done,” she said. “When we show it, everyone can have a sense of pride in the film.”