'Dead Life' will be promoted by the cast and crew at Comicon in Pittsburgh.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HUBBARD -- Leaning toward the computer screen, William Victor Schotten checks to make sure the visual images and audio clips are lined up.
When he hits play, snippets of the movie flash in front of his face, while pounding, driving rhythms of the local band Kitchen Knife Conspiracy blare from the speakers.
The Hubbard native continues his work, tweaking the look and sound of what is to be the 21/2-minute demonstration trailer for his film "Dead Life."
The story of a virus that runs rampant in the Midwest, killing the living and reviving the dead, "Dead Life" is the first full-length feature film from Schotten and his company Schotten Filmworks.
The movie, being filmed in Hubbard, Youngstown, Warren and other area locations, is about three-quarters complete.
While the work continues, interest in the film is growing. Major distribution companies, including Troma Entertainment Inc. and Tempe Entertainment, are already in touch with Schotten about getting the movie out on video and DVD once it's complete.
Tempe Entertainment -- owned by Akron filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter, who created the movie "The Dead Next Door" -- is producing the latest science-fiction drama from William Shatner, of "Star Trek" fame. Some of Troma's best-known distributions include the "Toxic Avenger" film series and "Surf Nazis Must Die."
But Schotten wants to work even harder, drumming up more interest in his project. That includes a trip Friday to April 27 to the Pittsburgh Expomart in Monroeville, Pa., to participate in the 10th annual Pittsburgh Comicon, a convention for creators and fans of comics, movies and more
Schotten, "Dead Life" producer J.J. Zetts of Youngstown and other members of the cast and crew will promote the movie at the convention by featuring the demonstration trailer and movie posters, as well as distributing multi-media CDs with the trailer and selections from the film's soundtrack.
Schotten and Zetts think the promotion at Comicon will show horror fans "Dead Life" is a little different from traditional horror flicks.
"The production is going very well so far," Schotten said. "I think it's going to be a fairly groundbreaking film in the living dead genre. It doesn't have the look of a traditional horror film; it's more grounded in the '70s exploitation horror movies. There are a lot of very dark moments."
Zetts, who also acts in "Dead Life" and provided some original music for the soundtrack, said the promotional aspect is just the next step in a long line of new experiences for those associated with the film.
"There's no real outlets locally that will push this type of film to the public," he said. "We are all relying on self-promotion. The Comicon is a gathering for fans of comics and movies, and horror is a big part of that. A lot of people who are interested in this type of thing are going to be there."
By taking the trailer to Comicon and posting it on the Web site www.schottenfilmworks.com, Schotten and Zetts are also hoping to find financial backers to help with the post-production phase, which will be done at Zetts' company, Zetts Technology Consulting Inc.
While most feature films have a set budget and a shooting schedule of 20-30 days, "Dead Life" has been more piecemeal, with about one 12- to 14-hour shooting day every few weeks. Also, actors and crew have all signed contracts with the film, agreeing to get paid for their work once the film is completed and sold for distribution.
Many of the actors and crew members of "Dead Life" have never worked on a feature film, but the process has been pretty smooth so far, which says a lot for the talent and dedication of those involved, Zetts said.
"But what I really think separates it from other no- or low-budget films is that is has a real edginess to it," Schotten said. "It's along the lines of a '13 Ghosts' or 'House on Haunted Hill' with that 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' classic '70s look to it. It looks just terrifying."
"Dead Life" will be one of many exhibits at the Pittsburgh Comicon. Hours for the event are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Sunday. Admission is $17 per day or $45 for a three-day pass. Parking is free. For information, call (814) 467-4116 or check the Web site at www.pittsburghcomicon.com.