Exclusive: How I Became Infected!

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Click to see it bigger!Every time one of us Internet journalists gets to visit a horror movie set, whether we want to admit it or not, we hope we can somehow be a part of the film. Such a practice, throwing some journalists in a crowd scene for example, is not uncommon; it just doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. In fact, usually set visits require us to not even be on the set, so as not to disrupt the shoot. How crazy is that?

With something like 28 Weeks Later (in theaters this Friday!), the cool factor goes up a notch or two just because of the cred of the first film. Fox Atomic knew this, of course, and knew that at least one of our group of intrepid journalists would want to actually become an infected, which is why during our second day on set, after chatting with effects man Cliff Wallace, they arranged for a raffle to see which of us it would be.

Click to see it bigger!Names were put in a hat, one was drawn and, lo and behold, it was mine! I was in the bathroom at the time so of course I missed the big reveal, but what a great chunk of news to come back to!

As I said, we had already been chatting with makeup man Cliff Wallace who, among other credits, was responsible for the badass effect in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser of Uncle Frank’s heart regenerating itself, so all I had to do was plop down and get the treatment from one of his assistants, a great fellow by the name of Antony Parker.

Click to see it bigger!Since they had no idea how elaborate they needed to be, they went all out, applying a few layers of veins to start off with, then layering grime on top of it so it gave the appearance of me being unwashed and insane. Like a typical Saturday night, really.

Then we got to the good stuff: the blood. Blood on my hands, blood in my hair (what there was of it) but, most importantly, blood leaking from my eyes. Truly a nasty effect and I loved it! For some photo ops they even had me fill my mouth with the stuff and let it pour out, which officially marked my first taste of stage blood. Weird that it took me 30 years to actually try it, eh?

Click to see it bigger!Pics were taken, laughs were had, thanks were given and we moved on to the rest of our interviews. It was pretty cool for the rest of the day; the cast and crew looked at me a bit differently, maybe with more respect? I was no longer just an Internet journalist; I was one of them now. Well, sort of.

Towards the end of the day we got back on set to watch them shooting more of the beginning of the film, which takes place in the same time frame as 28 Days Later. The scene involved a group of infected bursting into a ramshackle cabin some survivors have holed up in (a scene you can see over on FA’s site, as a matter of fact) and, since I was all done up anyway, it was suggested by unit publicist Sarah Clark that I maybe get into the scene. I, of course, had no objections but never actually thought it would happen.

Imagine my surprise when it did!

I didn’t expect much, but they actually put me in a scene with movement supervisor Paul Kasey, whose name die-hard fans of the new “Dr. Who” series might recognize from the show’s credits. He plays monsters. That’s what he does for a freakin’ living, can you believe it? He was also one of the main infected in 28 Days Later so they asked him back to make sure the new crop of diseased freaks moved and acted the right way.

Click to see it bigger!Kasey coached me on the scene we were going to shoot and how I should act. His take on the infected is that they’re so full of rage, so utterly consumed by it, that the only way that madness can be satiated for a while is to tear apart anything living. So I was to scratch and claw my way to the humans inside as if my very life depended on it.

Paul was in front, a blond girl (sorry, I never got her name) behind him and I was all the way at the back. I was fine with being in back, believe me; you don’t complain about your placement when a studio will do something this cool for its set reporters. The scene was of the main female character running from the infected as they break into the cabin. As soon as she runs in front of a boarded-up window, we smash through it and go after her, causing her to turn tail and haul ass in the opposite direction.

Click to see it bigger!The lighting was set up, the makeup guys came around and “freshened” us up, giving us nice mouthfuls of delicious stage blood (it’s minty!), and we were ready to go.

Film is at speed. “Action” is called. We’re given the signal, Paul punches through the boards with ease, and immediately one of the pieces flies into my eye. No matter! I’m full of rage and I have to get to whatever’s inside! Then someone calls “cut” and I stop.

Wait … why is everyone else still moving? Why is the cameraman still pointed at me? What’s the point of all this mayhem if “cut” was called? Oh … I see … it wasn’t.

My first time on camera in a big budget horror movie and I screw up the take. Typical.

Come to find out my blunder was only one of many problems with the shot; the light wasn’t strong enough, the window didn’t break right, etc. So it had to be set up again anyway, but would they let me back in it again?

Click to see it bigger!Like I’m the only extra to ever screw up on camera, right? They set it up again, got the boards to break the right way, we rolled and I got to go crazy again, but this time I did it right! The rushes we were able to see on the monitor right after didn’t give us too good of an impression of how it would look aside from the window breaking in, which looked a lot better the second time around, but needless to say I was pretty damn happy with the whole situation. Watching the scene online you still really can’t see me in the background, but I’m hoping when it’s up on the big screen this Friday you’ll at least see a bald outline!

The trip back to the hotel was interesting, driving through the crowded streets of London with an infected in your van is bound to get some stares, and I played it up as much as I could. We got some great reactions, let me tell you. But nothing compared to how the hotel staff responded to my “new look” when we got back; the girl behind the counter looked like she was ready to pee herself. Classic.

I just told them I had a rough day and headed off for a shower.

So that was my time as an infected; thanks of course to Fox Atomic, specifically the sex machine known as Eric Lieb, for getting us on set in the first place and even more to Sarah Clark and Paul Kasey for making my time there so damn memorable. Now you have even more reason to head out to see 28 Weeks Later this weekend!

Click to see it bigger! Click to see it bigger! Click to see it bigger!

Johnny Butane

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