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Home arrow Entertainment arrow Dark Gallery arrow Interview with Geoffrey de Valois, Writer/Producer/Director/DP/Editor VAMPIRE CENTERFOLDS
Interview with Geoffrey de Valois, Writer/Producer/Director/DP/Editor VAMPIRE CENTERFOLDS PDF Print E-mail
Written by by Kathy Casey   
Dec 18, 2004 at 07:00 PM
VAMPIRE CENTERFOLDS follows an innocent young cheer1eader on a dark and erotic journey into the nightmare underworld of Hollywood movies. Cast in a strange film about vampiric bloodlust, she discovers a secret coven of beautiful and alluring actresses who are transformed into sex obsessed bloodthirsty vampires by night!
Q. (How did Vampire Centerfolds come about?)
R. We wanted to make a fun film and really loved the vampire genre, so we decided to do something different for this one. Nudity is good, a little blood never hurt, but we really wanted to take it in a decidedly campy direction with a Strong female protagonist, and use a real MTV kind of approach which I'd never seen before in this genre. CENTERFOLDS was shot during and after THE VAMPIRE CONSPIRACY, and is the third in our series along with SORORITY HOUSE VAMPIRES.
Q. Any serious production problems?
R. We were lucky. No one died, moved, had a baby or became an overnight mega-success. Shooting only on weekends over a period of time (like CLERKS) is actually what made the film possible because of the money and people involved. Most of the cast and crew had "day" jobs during the week, and on what we were paying, which was very little or nothing, it would have been very hard to get as many talented people as we did if we were shooting for two or three months straight like most features do.
On a couple of the weekend shoots at the studio we used as the vampire headquarters, there was so much nudity being shot that the actresses got so used to it all that no one was even bothered to cover up between scenes. You'd walk down the hall at the studio right by a half dozen topless or nude actresses just hanging out, or running lines, or smoking cigarettes, or eating. Wild! I might add that we had a lot of (mostly male) crew members wanting to work on this film - even though it was deferred pay! And no one complained about the usually very long hours. I think the record was starting a weekend shoot Friday and going to 6AM on Saturday, catching a few hours sleep, and then shooting straight through until Monday afternoon! Actually I think we did that twice.
The opening beach scene was shot on an isolated state beach, and we got busted big time halfway thru the day's shooting by LAPD helicopters and armed cops who did not like us shooting topless women on their beach - even though it was completely deserted! We also got popped by the Highway Patrol for shooting exteriors off a huge bridge in the LA harbor. In both cases, we had to pack up, but we got away with only warnings. But there's no adrenaline rush quite like trying to finish the last few seconds of a scene with pissed off armed police trying to shut you down.
We shot in one really bad neighborhood in LA all weekend, and on Monday morning when I dragged myself off set to drive home, I found that someone had set my car on fire at some point over the previous 48 hours! That was exciting. And of course the afternoon the LA riots started, not only were we shooting near that neighborhood, we almost pulled off the freeway on the way home to get gas to the exact intersection where people were being clubbed out of their cars. That could have been a lot of fun-
Q. Where did you get the actors from?
A. The majority of the actors in VAMPIRE CONSPIRACY are actually professional union actors based in LA, although we did also have a few who's background was more of a Playboy/Penthouse modeling type background. We used casting notices in a couple of the LA trade magazines and auditioned a LOT of people. Hundreds, literally. Using a name actor would have involved going SAG union for all the actors, and the cost on that alone would have been approximately twice our entire budget for the whole film. Many of our actors had comedy/improv backgrounds which was great, because I'm very open on the set to suggestions.
Q. How did you approach the nudity?
A. A couple of actresses in the film weren't comfortable with any nudity, which I respect, so we actually had some no-nudity roles. And here I thought we'd have the world's first totally nude vampire camp comedy! Just kidding. We were very clear in casting that there would be nudity involved in many of the roles, so everyone auditioning for those parts understood what was involved. Unlike Playboy and some of the other companies shooting films with nude scenes we did NOT require any nudity during the casting process, which I think can be demeaning. We did ask to see people in swim suits if we were seriously considering them for a role. On the set when there was nudity, we tried very hard to keep things on a very casual and yet still professional basis, and in one or two scenes when an actress asked, we shot with a "closed set".
Q. How can you make such a low budget film with good production values?
R. One of the main ways any low budget film gets production value is exploiting the people who work on the film, by having them work insanely long hours for little or no money. Roger Corman (among others) has built a whole successful studio empire founded on that premise. And it works because the filmakers get the labor they need for the money available, crew members get experience which leads to better paying jobs, and actors get exposure and videotape on themselves to show to agents and other producers. The key is to always respect the people you're working with and feed them well!
Another big word is favors. You just basically call up everyone you know and ask for stuff. Who's got equipment they're not using, anyone have extra costumes, discount film, who can get us a break on telecine, etc. Locations can be hard to get and use in LA when you can't afford permit fees. We used my house a lot, my co-producer's sister's house for the sorority house, a crew member's girlfriend who worked in a bank let us in to shoot all one weekend starting after the bank closed - which became the TV station, the vampire conference room, the jail cells, etc. We used the giant LA sewage treatment plant for the vampire headquarters exterior, and Griffith park for the college campus.
Q. What's next?
R. We have VAMPIRE CONSPIRACY hats and tee shirts for sale ($25 each), and the soundtrack cassette is finished ($15) with 14 original songs. We have literally hundreds of great stills for a calendar, just need a publisher. We have tons of content for a CD-ROM and/or an Internet WWW site, and are actively looking for people to collaborate on these projects with.
I hate to talk about stuff before it's actually happening, because there are so many things in this business that you don't have control over, but we have optioned a great noir thriller script called Chain Reaction, which Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee is interested in. And we have an incredibly intense political thriller which I wrote and hope to direct in '97. These projects are all in the 1 to 3 million dollar range, and will be shot on different locations across the US on 35mm. I'm also in the middle of recording a very political album/CD called Militia Blues about how dangerous right-wing terror groups are in America.
Q. Where do you think filmmaking is going?
A. I really wish the film business was more about film and much less about business, but the truth is that it really is an industry. In fact entertainment just surpassed aerospace as an economic and employment factor in California. But a lot of people involved in films could just as easily be making widgets as making movies, which is really sad.
I think the influence of computers and the net, inexpensive digital production technology (cameras, editing, effects), and multiple distribution channels and outlets is leading to a revolution (or at least an evolution) in visual entertainment in America - I think there will be increasing opportunities for people in all parts of the country to make films on a more democratic, decentralized fashion. Hopefully this movement in technology and access and attitude will counteract, at least in part, the growing power of the giant corporate Time/Warner/Turner and Disney/ABC's that are monopolizing and homogenizing entertainment.
I think making films has got to be the most difficult art form on the face of the planet. A writer just needs a pen (or a computer), an artist needs paints and canvas; but a filmmaker needs money, dozens or even hundreds of people working together in sync, locations, advanced technology, and a mastery of crafts ranging from photography to sound to design to editing to effects to music. And then he or she has to be a talented business person on top of it all. A good low-budget film requires a great script, a unique vision, tons of talented collaborators, a huge amount of good luck, and most of all - a never give up attitude!

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