At Last, A Celebrity Weighs in On Zombie Voting

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: local celebrity DJ Don Murphy. 

  When I first heard about the latest culture war kerfuffle to bubble its way up into what passes for national conversation, I thought it had to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And I’ve actually listened to Mitt Romney’s early-90’s rap album (Latter Day Trippin’.) I mean, zombies? Really? First they made Wal-Mart smell even worse than it did before, and now we’re going to let them vote?

      But, thinking about it, I realized it might not be such a bad thing. It’s well known that zombies tend to vote Republican. (Vampires lean Democrat. Werewolves will vote for anybody who has bacon in their pocket.) Finally, people of color could find a home in the GOP. Of course, that color is a gangrenous blackish green, but still . . . progress.

      Is it a coincidence that they held the Republican National Convention in Florida, the face-eating capital of the world? This is, after all, the party of Abraham Lincoln who, as history has recently revealed, was a legendary vampire hunter, but who was strangely silent on the whole zombie issue.

In short, I say sure, let ‘em vote. Just so long as it keeps them out of the Wal-Mart. I’ve got to get down there to stock up on bottled water and cheap shotgun ammo.

DON MURPHY was once the top-rated nationally syndicated “shock jock” in the country, a man who Howard Stern once called “The Don.” He lost his job following the infamous “incident,” which there’s no need to recap in a family-friendly blog. Now he can be heard only on Crest Top’s own KCRT community radio, where he hosts the popular “Murphy in the Morning” drive-time show. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever. 

“The Dead Votes Society” Cast Announced

Last Friday night, we saw 10 auditions and received a number of videos sent in response to our Craigslist ad and Facebook page.

Angie and I would like to thank all the actors who showed us their work. It was a pleasure to meet you all.

Here is the cast for “The Dead Votes Society”:

(in order of appearance)

Parker Anderson . . . . Neal Maverick, news anchor

Joanne Mack Robertson . . . .  Melissa Blonde, news anchoress

Tiffany Antone . . . . Holly Lloyd, tv journalist

Cason Murphy . . . .  Zeke Steppenski, zombie and president Arizona Dead Votes Society

Judy Stahl . . . . Congresswoman Serena Paltry (R, AZ D9)

Kevin Goss . . . . Blaine Walpole, zombie and candiate for AZ State legislature in D31.

Poll Worker . . . . Delia Whitehead

What a great cast! We’re definitely looking forward to shooting this movie with you all and seeing you and this movie up on the big screen!

Andrew Johnson-Schmit, director

An opposing view of the UVA

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: local retiree Cookie Del Rio.


     In response to the letter printed on Aug. 17th from my opponent in the Mayoral election, Mandela Goldfarb: oh come off your high horse, ya buck nekkid weirdo. I’m sick and tired of all these folks using loaded words like “freedom” and “inalienable rights” while they’re trying to push for giving zombies the vote. I mean, come on people, they’re DEAD. As in NOT ALIVE. Just because they’re up and walking around don’t mean we gotta let em vote. Heck, if that was the criteria, we’d give the vote to cats. I don’t know about you, but that ain’t the kind of America I want to live in.

      Besides, all this “freedom” talk obscures the real issue. That is, the very real threat of rampant undead voter fraud. To Mr. Goldfarb and all others who blindly support this measure, I’d suggest they actually read the dang thing. I have, and nowhere in there are any provisions to verify that these are in fact American zombies we’re giving the vote to willy nilly. Heck, a zombie could have died anywhere. I have it on good authority that many of these smelly, slobbering walking piles of rot have been smuggled onto our shores from a certain European country. I ain’t gonna say which one because that always gets me in trouble, but you ever notice how zombies smell exactly like corned beef and cabbage that’s been left out in the sun? Draw your own conclusions from that.

      In short, I say, show me the death certificate and then maybe I’ll consider letting you vote here, O’Malley. Otherwise, go back to Dublin. I think Abraham Lincoln said it the best when he said: “Freedom’s all good and proper, but heck you gotta draw the line somewheres.”


    COOKIE DEL RIO is a life-long resident of Crest Top, host of the popular “Senior Moments” radio program on KCRT Crest Top community radio, as well as the only living member of the “Arizona for Arizonans” political party, founded in 1898. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.

The Opposite of Just Winging It

Some art forms lend themselves to improvisation. Dance can be very spontaneous. Classic Spolin theatre games are improvisation.

Film, on the other hand, is a lot harder to whip out of your left ear. Why? It’s split between a tech side and an art side. Without both, you don’t have cinema. A stage theatre has a lot of tech, but if you take the actors and put them in a field, you still know you are watching Ibsen. In cinema, we don’t accept that as easily. Maybe it’s because the tech part is not just surrounding the performance, as in theatre, but the camera is an additional character – the narrator of the film.

Sure, on the art side, your actors can make it up as they go along, but on the tech side there’s cameras, lights, continuity and cucalorus clamped to c-stands oh my! It’s harder to “just go with it” while a bunch of grips are standing around trying to figure out if this is a dream sequence. 

I know what you’re saying, film nerds. Wasn’t the French New Wave supposed to free us from that? Can’t one dude with a light camera and a microphone strapped on top chase after his actors and, hey presto, its cinema? Well, you can capture footage that way. Of course, it will always look like a dude with a camera chasing actors, but it is improv.

Until you get it into post-production – the editing, the sound mixing, the thousand little tasks that take footage and make it into more than a home movie – the footage is not a movie that reflects the director’s vision. You will never see an ADR sound dubber say, “I just felt like giving the maid a lisp in  the last reel.” Well, you might, but that means he needs to go home and take a nap.

This last week, I’ve been trading script breakdown sheets and a shooting script back and forth with our DP, trying to reach a point where both documents communicate clearly to him and to the crew what needs to happen to make a movie pop out the other end. What do they need to bring, who will do what and, most importantly, what is my intention for the scene or shot when a barrier appears to carrying out the original plan. 

We’ve been going back and forth so much because clarity and completeness are what make a shooting script and breakdown sheets valuable to the film maker. And the first draft is never so clear and complete as the 17th draft, sad to say. But in the end, when we get to the set, if I’ve done my job right, we’ll have all our actors for that day, we’ll know what we want to end up on screen – even shooting out of order to make the most of our time – and we’ll even have the cucalorus, clamped or unclamped. 

Life is improvisation. Art can be improvisation. Planning, is making sure you show up with your pants on. 

A Whole Lotta Prep Goin’ on…

Whoa! Auditions are almost upon us and we’re hip deep in prep work. I’ve done more things for the very first time in the past few weeks than I’ve done in years. And y’know what? It’s AWESOME! 

The hubster (Andrew) and I spent the weekend writing lists, revising the shooting script and breakdown sheets, making phone calls, and sending a ton of text messages and Facebook messages off to various peeps. It’s awesome to get back in touch with people we haven’t worked with in years (Matt Jackson), people we’ve worked with on Tsunami (Penelope Davis, Sean Souva), folks we’ve known for years but have never worked with (Jerry Chinn), and some people we don’t really know well, but are excited to get to know.

We’re still making plenty of picky decisions (of the “blue…no, green!” variety), but at the end of each day we’re a little closer to actual production. At the mo’, I’m just enjoying the process. Yeah, even the heart attack freak outs…but now it’s time to get the notes ready for Friday’s auditions. Those notes aren’t gonna write themselves!

The Naked and the (Un)Dead

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper. Here members of the community voice their concerns about some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: perennial mayoral candidate Mandela Goldfarb.

Why do opponents of the Undead Voter’s Act, which would finally guarantee the right to vote for our zombie brothers and sisters, always frame the debate as an issue of public safety?  They always fall back on the same tired old argument that zombies are “violent cannibals” whose very existence makes our city’s streets unsafe. (As if teenage drivers weren’t any less dangerous.) Either that or they use the even more insulting contention that since zombies are driven by primitive reptilian impulses and have only vestigial traces of higher brain functions, that this somehow disqualifies them from participating in democracy. (As if a working brain was ever a requirement for voting in America.)

The real issue here is freedom. Voting is an American’s birthright. Does a birthright expire at the time of death? I should say not. Like the right of a citizen to walk nude down any public thoroughfare, as God intended, the right to vote is inalienable.

It may seem a bit of a stretch for me to compare the two issues, but consider this: the nattering nudity naysayers who routinely decry naturism as “indecent,” “immoral,” or “unsightly” are the same freedom-hating anti-deadites who seem bent on keeping our undead friends disenfranchised. Is it a coincidence that in poll after poll, potential zombie voters invariably support pro-nude ballot initiatives? I highly doubt it. This is a blatant case of voter suppression, with the intended effect of keeping unconstitutional “public indecency” laws on the books. If we follow the money, I don’t doubt that we’d find that the textile tyrants and the fashionista fascists are providing most of the corporate sponsorship of these pernicious attacks on liberty. As usual.

So please join me and the dozens of other freedom-loving Americans who’ve already expressed their public support for the UVA. Together we can make this country the kind of place where a naked man and a walking corpse can finally walk hand-in-hand.

MANDELA GOLDFARB is a graduate of Crest Top College, President of the Cresttop Freedom and Naturism Movement (CFNM) and the Chairman of the Crustapai County “As the Day I Was Born” Party. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.

Late Night Breakdown

From Andrew’s Desk:

In the beginning was The Script. And behold, it was Pretty Good. And so, the writers stayed up late and made The Script into The Shooting Script. Which wasn’t so hard, in that it meant (primarily) that each scene got numbered and that we put Continued at the top and bottom of script pages that actually, you know, continued. But it also meant we had some ‘splaining to do. Scenes that were “you know, then stuff happens” had to start getting a little clearer in terms of what we see and in what order.

But, The Shooting Script came to an end and now it was time for “The Breakdown Sheet.” And so it was another late night.

The Breakdown Sheet is a way to get more specific about a scene. Who’s in it? What costumes do they wear? Are there special effects? A pretty straight forward list of what needs to be on this stage to make movie magic possible.

But, it also calls for a shot list at the bottom of the sheet. And that is where you’ve got to get real about the cinema grammar you are using. How do we go from here to there? How do we show this and how do we achieve this effect with the audience? Start close in? Go wide for The Spielberg Reaction Shot Homage? How wide? That is what we’ve been doing late tonight. Not done yet, but Angie and I understand better what we’ll be asking of our cinematographer on  Day One of Principal Photography for The Dead Votes Society.

Can’t wait to see it. Actually, can’t wait to sleep. But THEN…can’t wait to see it.

Video Auditions

Well, all of the spots for the live auditions scheduled for Friday, August 24 have been FILLED! Who’d a thunk so many peeps would want to be in an Indie zombie flick?

For those who are smacking their foreheads thinking, “Dang it! I wanted to audition!” we’ve come up with an alternative plan. Just drop us an email and we’ll send you a copy of the script. Pick the part you want to try out for, make a video of your audition and send it to us!

“How the heck do I do that?” you ask. Well, it’s pretty simple. Most peeps have a cell phone with a video camera – or at least knows someone else who does. So you can record your audition that way, via your ‘puter video camera, or even a regular ol’ video camera. Upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo or whatever online platform floats your boat, send us the link and your audition will be considered. Or, y’know, burn it to a disc and we’ll still give it a look-see.

All video auditions must be RECEIVED by midnight, August 24 to be considered. Still have questions? Drop us an email at