HEADSOME (2013) 82 Minutes Raleigh, NC
Director: Pavel Nikolajev
Line Producer/Assistant Director: Nick Karner
With: William Haze, Stephanie Northrup, Erin Dangler, Alena Koch, Miles Snow
IMDB SYNOPSIS: When a scientist is injured in a car accident, his fellow scientist twin brother decides to play God by keeping him alive as a disembodied head.
History and Trivia:
I originally auditioned for the lead role in this film. The script was so wild that I thought it would be a great challenge to play dual roles. Although I didn’t get cast, the casting director, Heather Snow Clark, recommended me to the director as a crew member. We hit it off right away when he realized that my work ethic matched his own, i.e. work, work, work! Admittedly, this was a tough shoot. Everything was highly professional and we were even being PAID(!) for our work, which is not often the case. The only real problem was that Pavel was worried PA’s were going to ask for money, so the crew was literally myself, Pavel, our sound guys(the two Chris’s, who alternated days and never met each other), and our make-up artists, one of whom could only work a few days on the film. At times, there were simply not enough people to be able to do everything for the scenes. Someone had to be shooting, someone had to be running sound, someone had to be controlling the cyborg racer, and someone had to be programming the mechanical arms to move. This, along with shooting in a basement with one window and no A/C, made for a rough one, but we powered through.
I’m actually quite happy that I didn’t get cast because our lead, William Haze, did a fantastic job. We almost lost him the first day of the shoot because he’d gotten a call from his agent that a big production out of state wanted him for a lead and it was more money and with big stars. Pavel told me that a few “name” actresses had been given the script, and if they’d come aboard, we would’ve gotten way more money to make the movie. Will, to his credit, stayed with us because he’d made a commitment. I ended up being Will’s stand-in as well as playing a guy who loses his head. Although he’s all smiles in the stills, it was actually a very uncomfortable rig he had to wear during the shoot and there’s even footage of him passing out because Pavel had modeled the neck brace for his neck, not Will’s, and the brace was too tight and cut off Will’s air. Our make-up designer, Alex Perrone, a UNCSA student, was brilliant and re-designed a new, looser collar. She was also able to apply and remove Will’s beard stubble to keep continuity, which other prospective make-up artists had said wouldn’t be possible.
Although there is a fair amount of CGI, including a knock out CGI spider sequence, a lot of the effects were practical. An F/X team came in from out of town to help us set up squibs and it was bloody good fun, although the clean-up was murder. Had to skip my lunch hour just so I could get all of the blood off the walls. Pavel is an engineer and he designed and created the entire rig. It was very impressive. We also shot the film in 3D, which meant we had to run cables to a computer and check the footage after each take. Pavel designed a dual-camera 3D rig to shoot on and also had a horribly heavy but excellent dolly rig system.
We screened the film at the Nevermore Film Festival and Pavel took it to the Cannes Film Festival to sell it to prospective distributors. I think this might be the hardest I’ve ever worked on a film. Not to say I don’t work hard on other sets, but because I was wearing so many hats and things just had to get done, I definitely pushed myself to the brink. Seeing the film at the Carolina Theatre made it all worth it.
One other thing that I'll never forget is when I asked Pavel what he thought of Rocky IV. Since Pavel is Russian, I was curious what his opinion on the film would be. He said the Russian government hated it but he and his friends thought it was hysterically funny.