HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (12/4/12) – The popularity of Big Biting Pig Productions (BBPP) and the respect they receive for their independent horror/suspense films continues to grow, and now fans are anxiously awaiting BBPP’s newest full-length feature film, Lucid.
Filming for Lucid began on Memorial Day earlier this past year and the BBPP crew completed their shooting schedule on Labor Day. The pig’s newest horror flick is proud to boast a cast of about 150 people and hopes to entertain audiences by taking them on an epic adventure through a troubled woman’s subconscious.
“It’s about dreaming,” says writer, director, and actor, PJ Woodside. “It’s the story of a woman whose violent dreams and sleepwalking episodes have progressively becoming more troublesome, more worrisome. She goes to see a well known sleep therapist, but after that, her dreams actually become worse. She finds out there is more going on in her subconscious than she would have ever guessed. There is a lot of stuff in this. [laughs] You can expect a lot of twists and turns. It’s pretty fascinating exploring the dream landscape, I think. There are a lot of interesting characters in this one, too.”
PJ admits that while filming Lucid there were times that she wondered if the storyline was too crazy.
“I am still, as I’m watching pieces of it during editing, thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this is such a crazy movie,'” laughs PJ. “However, when I read the script it makes complete sense. The trick with Lucid was holding it together in my head, while doing all these different little pieces and fitting them together. The continuity for this movie is crazy. We were filming things completely out of order and we had to re-shoot a few things along the way.”
BBPP released their first feature film, Maniac on the Loose, back in 2008, and has released a total of six movies to date. In that time, they have grown exponentially. Many things are just becoming second nature to the experienced crew. They are now able to tout their expertise when it comes to things like breaking down their scripts, scheduling, and obtaining filming locations.
“People always ask me how we get locations,” says PJ. “We just think of a place and then we go ask. I remember the first time I went to ask about using a location for Widow. I went to ask about using the Barnett-Strother Funeral Home. I felt like I shouldn’t be asking, but now it’s different. People know who we are locally at this point. The first summer that we participated in [Madisonville's annual] Friday Night Live, people had no idea who we were. Now they recognize us and know us from our films. So that helps with getting locations. We’ve also gotten really good at setting up shots. Steve has gotten a lot better with the camera. We’ve gotten some nice work from him this time.”
“We've been doing this for awhile now, so there's rarely any surprises anymore with the process of shooting a movie,” says BBPP founder, Steve Hudgins. “Occasionally it was a challenge to get some shooting days wrapped in a timely manner, but that's just part of the game.”
“We had some really long days, and I push people through sometimes,” shares PJ. “Sometimes we will work 15 hour days, and at the end of it, I’m thinking, 'Am I crazy? Are they crazy?'”
“I think we’ve developed a flow, of sorts, from setup to break down that has become second nature,” says BBPP's First Assistant to the Director, Felicia Stewart. "That, and being able to recognize when the other person needs a hand or a moment to mentally regroup.”
“I think that me, Steve, and Felicia plan really well as a group,” says PJ. “Felicia has been a great help for all that. I feel like we all kind of round out the details, and Felicia catches stuff that I might not catch sometimes. Planning is so important because we have a deadline, but also, we don’t want to waste people’s time. Part of that is part of filming, but we try to plan well so that we don’t have people up at three in the morning doing something. It does happen, but we try to be careful about that.”
Lucid will be the first movie that the BBPP crew has shot in high definition.
“Everything is going to high-def now, and you just can’t get any attention for standard-def anymore,” says PJ. “It was a big learning curve for us, but the visuals are amazing.”
How did the cast of Lucid grow to the size that it did? As mentioned before, there were about 150 actors that worked in this film.
“We had a large crowd scene of about 75 people that we filmed at Hopkins County Central High School. It went really well. The crowd looks great, and it was a lot of fun. Dealing with the crowd stuff is not my favorite thing about directing, but Felicia loves it and Steve kind of likes it. Felicia loves it when lots of people are coming in,” explains PJ.
“For me, keeping everything straight with that many people was a challenge,” says Felicia. “My favorite shooting days are when we have scenes that call for large groups of extras, though, so I enjoyed that day of filming immensely. It was exhausting, but fun.”
In addition to the 75 extras that turned out for the crowd scene, there are upwards of about 70 named characters in Lucid.
“There were quite a few sleepwalkers, and they show up several times, so many of them do have names,” says PJ. “The main characters are Monica, played by Brittney Saylor, who appears in 90 percent of the scenes. Her boyfriend Kevin is played by Michael Coon. Jake and Julia are their friends. They are played by Megan Mcgregor and Craig Angel. I play her therapist, Faith. Then there is 'the Sandman,' Aaron Knight, who is played by Scott Cummings. Those are the main characters. Then you have three rather dark characters from her subconscious: Mommy, played by Felicia Stewart, and PawPaw, who is played by Bill “Leatherface” Johnson. The third character is a surprise.”
How did BBPP manage to get Bill “Leatherface” Johnson on board to play PawPaw in this flick?
“We actually decided that we wanted to get a name attached to this one, and we know the organizer of [Louisville, KY's annual] Fright Night Film Fest,” explains PJ. “So we approached him and asked him who might be available. The way it worked out was really great because it benefited both of us. We sponsored Bill Johnson to come in for Fright Night, and we got him for half the day. We were able to do that while he was at Fright Night already, so we didn’t have to pay his airfare or anything. We are trying to secure somebody for the next movie as well. We’ll see how it goes.”
“It was a blast working with Leatherface,” says Steve. “He was a pro and a very nice guy, but when the camera's started rolling he was extremely creepy.”
“It was a pleasure working with Bill,” shares Felicia. “We all enjoyed filming with him. We actually filmed his scenes in my house, which was very cool. When my neighbor found out that Leatherface had been in my home filming scenes, he was extremely impressed.”
Over time, the BBPP crew has built up quite a collection of actors who have appeared in their films over the years.
“It’s amazing to me how much people want to create and have input,” says PJ. “We are so grateful for the people who are involved in our movies. We never forget people who have contributed, and they are part of the whole thing. It’s the collaboration of everybody. We recognize that. In fact, we are going to start calling them 'Piglets.' We should give our fans a name, and that’s the only one that makes sense. We have always made sure to stay in contact with everybody and we let them know how they can be involved. It’s really important. You don’t do anything these days and just expect a passive audience. Anyway that people can contribute is welcome, whether it’s for money or not. People have to make a living, but that’s not living. That’s not everything. It’s almost secondary. You want to feel like you’ve made a difference.”
Lucid is set to premiere during the early summer of 2013, and the Sugg Street Post will continue to keep the community updated on its progress. Last year's premiere of Spirit Stalkers brought in around 350 people. Lucid’s premiere is expected to bring in a crowd of closer to 500, due to Bill “Leatherface” Johnson’s appearance.
At the end of the day, though, what is it about art and film that keeps the crew going?
“I think it’s really important to explore what it means to be human; what it means to have relationships; what it means to be in this world,” explains PJ. “It’s important to explore that, and that’s how we do that, through art. We do it through any kind of expression. I think art is just another word for expression. It’s an expression of the self. I’ve been a writer all my life. I started out working with more literary kinds of writing. When I got my start in horror, I was only half serious about it. I just thought it was going to be a temporary thing. [laughs] Part of what’s happened is that I recognize that part of these genres are as serious as literary fiction. They serve a different need. They fulfill a different part of our consciousness, but they are just as important. They just use a different language. It’s been kind of fun exploring the dark stuff. I’m realizing that there is a lot of material in my brain, that, for many years, I kind of tried to tame, hide, and pretend wasn’t there. Stephen King talks about that. You’ve got to feed the beast a little bit so that it doesn’t get hungry and storm out. With horror, we can do that. We can allow people to explore. What if you did do those things that are so forbidden? In general, I think the purpose of art is to connect, explore, and express what it is that makes us who we are. I spent too many years trying to make a career out of writing, trying to get that book published, looking at the end result instead of seeing it as a process. I realized somewhere along the way that I’m just not alive if I’m not creating. If I’m not writing in some way, I’m just not living. Every community, every place, has a lot of people who are creating art. They are creating it because they want to be famous, but because they have a desire to create. It makes them feel alive because it expresses who they are. We have been told that something is of value only if someone else will pay you to do it. One of the nice things about the explosion of the internet is that you can access other people's stuff. You can get your stuff out there that way as well, and we can see that there is a value, outside of the monetary value, that really is more intrinsic. If somebody else wants to share it with you, it has value. So, we shouldn't always be looking at success or failure based on whether or not somebody is going to pay you for it. We’ve put too much stock in what the advertising world tells us is valuable. We need to stop and say, 'What’s valuable to me?'"
“Movies impact people's lives significantly, whether they're aware of it or not,” says Steve. “Most people, regardless what walk of life they come from, can sit down with most any other person and have a conversation about movies. Think about that a little bit. That's some pretty serious stuff. Since the dawn of time, people like to be entertained in one way or another. Most art forms provide entertainment. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, music, dancing, movies, and sports are all art forms in some way. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone in society who doesn't enjoy one of the aforementioned art forms, and those are just quick examples.”
“Art is expression, and I think history proves that humans have a need to express themselves,” says Felicia. “It can be found in all forms, from ancient cultures to present day life. So I’m not sure you can have one without the other. Movies are such a powerful form of art. They can be a form of escape from difficult times. They can make you see things as you had never seen them before. They can touch something inside of you, trigger an emotion, a reaction, be it scared, sad, happy, or anxious. A good movie makes you feel one or more of these things. I couldn’t be happier than when I’m part of that creative process.”
With each new movie, Big Biting Pig just keeps getting better, and it seems that Lucid will be no exception.
“Lucid is going to be incredible, and I’m proud to be a part of such a talented cast and crew,” remarks Felicia.
“For us, it’s a commitment; it’s not just a commitment to the movies, it’s a commitment to the whole community,” says PJ.
To keep up with Big Biting Pig Productions you can check out their website and Facebook page.
Sugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
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