The Blue Face Film Strips was a 2003 horror/suspense movie by Dozerfleet Studios. It featured the producer/director's sisters as the two girls and an animation as the serial killer Marzwhatti the Lirquinwur. It was filmed in March of 2003, released on VHS on May 5th of that year, and released to YouTube on July 19th of 2007. It was released again on January 12th of 2008, but later went into Ivan's Vault.
Kelina Averes is a high school student highly aspiring towards a future as a photojournalist, except nothing seems to go her way. One night, she sees an ominous floating blue head outside the house. Curious, she nervously approaches it and takes three pictures. The creature vanishes. She discovers too late that it is Marzwhatti the Lirquinwur. The Lirquinwur are an alien race, and Marzwhatti is an escaped criminal from their number who flees to Earth. On Earth, Marzwhatti develops a sadistic idea for a game: anyone who takes his picture will die within the number of weeks as are the same as how many pictures were taken.
He decides to use several of Kelina's friends as test subjects, before targeting Kelina herself. Kelina shoots three pictures, and then feverishly tries to figure out why Marzwhatti won't stop terrorizing her thoughts. One evening, she stays up late, studying the film strips, photo prints, and an ominous e-mail with no return-address on it to try to piece together the puzzle. Once again, her parents are nowhere to be found. But it's too late: that evening is the evening she is scheduled to die!
Just when she begins to think the whole thing might be an elaborate hoax, she hears her sister Katie in the living room screaming in terror. She rushes to investigate; but Marzwhatti isn't there. Katie argues that he was there, but Kelina, not wishing to let her sister get involved in the possible body count, denies that Katie really saw what she thought she saw, dismissing it as a night terror. Marzwhatti makes himself visible in the living room, and strangles Kelina. Katie watches on in terror. After Kelina breathes her last, a panicked Katie shakes her body violently in an attempt to convince herself that her sister isn't really dead.
Marzwhatti turns his attention toward Katie and Katie turns hers towards Marzwhatti. She screams in absolute terror, believing she'll be next. Her fate is unknown at the end, but it is indicated later on in Volkonir Journals: Attempt #43 that she does survive the encounter, albeit permanently mentally and emotionally scarred.
Dropped cast members
- Chris Fox as Ken Averes, the spear counterpart of Kelina is the original draft.
- Emily as Delilah Holman, Ken's girlfriend in the original draft.
- Unknown as Jethro Leets, a friend of Ken's who also gets caught up in Marzwhatti's web of terror.
The reason for the creation of The Blue Face Film Strips was because of a class that the Dozerfleet founder was enrolled in at Lansing Community College: FILM 118: Introduction to Film Production w/Jeff Hamlin. Having been also heavily inspired to write 90 Has No Secant because of seeing The Ring in theaters, the founder wanted eagerly to test his skills at J-horror. Classes were originally held in the basement of the Academic Offices Facility (AOF,) but were later moved to the first floor of the Gannon Building some time after the Dozerfleet founder left campus.
The film class was broken up into various groups based on who would be willing to do what genre. The only one who would join the Dozerfleet founder for horror was Chris Fox, a self-proclaimed aspiring All-World Wrestling League contender who worked a part-time job at a video store. Aside from his Foxman persona, Chris was of limited involvement in the project, due to family issues. It was initially planned that the china mask, which would be the basis for Marzwhatti, would feature more often. There'd be a scene with some aliens in white, and the overall film would be a 25-minute short about how a Ken Averes would try in vain to save himself and his girlfriend, Delilah, from Marzwhatti's curse. He would lose his friend Jethro to Marzwhatti, however.
The rules for the final assignment forbade this; as well as the life schedules of the actors involved. Jethro's subplot was removed due to inability to secure a cast member. The girl who would have played Delilah, Emily, was too busy with the Fantasy group, which was inspired most not by The Ring but by Lord of the Rings. That left the 25-minute Blue Face Film Strips piece reduced to a 5-minute-max planned piece in which most if not all the footage would be shot in the 2003 back yard of the Grand Ledge House. The house is distinct, as is the area. It'd be hard to explain how Ken Averes lived there. Nevertheless, this plot hole was planned to be ignored. The film had to be a silent one, so dialog was not allowed to be captured. Silent era film title quotes were to be used in the place of dialog, if indeed there had to be any at all.
There would be some limited outdoor footage, due to the cold weather there in March of 2003, and mostly indoor footage. Emily eventually abandoned the project entirely, devoting all her time to the fantasy group. This left the entire story revolving around Ken and Marzwhatti. The scheduled day in which all the shooting would be done was decided as Thursday, March 20th of 2003. The day of the shooting proved to be anything but practical. In the early morning, it grew damp outside. By the late afternoon, it was raining and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Chris had received an eviction notice from his house on Seymour Rd. in downtown Lansing, resulting in him not being there when time came to pick him up. Sick with a cold and unable to find a babysitter for his daughter, he was forced to quit the project.
Cast and crew
The REW and the RJS both agreed to stay up for "however long it took" to get the movie footage wrapped up. A new script and everything had to be constructed on the spot. The character of college-age Ken Averes was completely replaced with the high school-aged Kelina Averes. With Delilah no longer in the picture, the part was given to the RJS to play Kelina's sister, Katie. The cold that had set in by the time evening rolled around forbade outdoor shooting; so the entire movie would be confined to the kitchen, office area, dining room, and living room of the house's first floor.
Using cheap props drafted up for Chris to use, the producer rearranged the entire storyline to focus around Kelina. The girls enjoyed work on the project overall, with their only complaint being that they didn't expect the directing process to be so strict. Other than the fact that they were busy from 9:00 PM till 1:00 AM the following Friday, and were exhausted in school, there were few additional problems.
Jeff Hamlin, the class instructor, commented that the girls showed "remarkable talent" at acting their parts. In reality, they struggled with directions quite a bit. They complained repeatedly that the "hints" they were given on acting were "too strict," and that they didn't appreciate retakes. The scene where Kelina converses with Katie on the couch before Marzwhatti appeared took 12 minutes to get sufficient takes on, only for less than a minute of actual screen time to make the final cut. They ad-libbed most of their lines, just to give the impression that they were actually talking about something. Title quotes would replace their actual dialog. The REW proved the most difficult, as the crowded space into which the camera was placed made the already-stressful job of playing Kelina that much more claustrophobic. She also took issue with understanding the motivations of Kelina, as she was a method actress given almost zero preparation time.
The visual effects were achieved using oftentimes some very low-tech tricks. Several overlapped photos were taken of a china mask. They were then touched up in Photoshop and converted into an animated looping eye-flash sequence using Adobe ImageReady 7.0. The Marzwhatti animation only lasted for a few seconds; so to make the scene where he kills Kelina, the same loop was repeated several times on the Adobe Premiere 6.0 video 2 feed timeline where the animated GIF file was inserted-to overlap the video footage. That is why Marzwhatti appears in pure blackness rather than a dark room. To compensate for the fact that Marzwhatti was so difficult to insert into a real-world environment, his visual scenes were only allowed to flash for a few seconds at a time. The girls were instructed to act as if he were there, by staring at the ceiling in the relative direction of a studio light that was covered with multiple layers of blue studio gel.
The FILM 118 class was not required to use original music for the movies they made; but was expected in their end credits section to provide credit for whomever made the song that they did use. The song that overlays the soundtrack to The Blue Face Film Strips is "Christina's Dream," off of Fernando Ortega's album 'Storm. It was argued in class that, oddly enough, the music was a perfect fit for the movie - in spite little prior planning of what song to use. The only criteria was that it had to be instrumental music with no lyrics; so as not to distract. Fernando Ortega CDs were about the only ones with music that seemed to qualify for the desired mood while fitting the criteria; and they were readily available. "Grace's Waltz" off of , would have been chosen, but "Christina's Dream" from had a more eerie feel to it that produced better suspense; and the music disc worked better. "Grace's Waltz" would be used for Farewell Graduate instead.
Video was shot using a news-style camera borrowed from the LCC television department and a DVCAM digital video tape. The tape had been used numerous times beforehand for various class-related assignments. Most of the footage shot for Blue Face was done with relatively low F-stop numbers, never exceeding f/5.6. White balance and lighting were all major concerns. The mini-DV tape was eventually wiped completely clean, and was given away as a Christmas gift in December of 2005.
The following week, in a gray 1994 Saturn down treacherous road, the producer traveled to have the footage translated into a QuickTime file. Also printed was a copy of the sequence to VHS along with Kings in the Corner - another short film made for that same class. The car slid off the road after hitting some black ice just past the bridge over I-96 near the Community Baptist Church on Mt. Hope Hwy. Both the driver and car survived, but not without ruining the back end and the alignment of the car and the driver having a backache for two days afterward.
Blue Face was copied to several CDs, and was copied to at least one CD along with Kings in the Corner. The CD with both movies was eventually stolen by a student of Michigan Lutheran Seminary, who took it with him to his home in Muskegon. That CD was never seen again. Kings in the Corner would eventually be re-made, using stock footage from the raw collection CD. Blue Face itself was ripped by some of the students and the music was replaced with a techno beat that included an occasional drug message, making it the unofficial "Marijuana Edition" of Blue Face. Shortly after the movie was produced, it was printed to several CD's and to VHS. The VHS version would survive for many years, as would the CD. Blue Face was added in July 2007 to YouTube, and was made available for a time on the Dozerfleet MySpace page. That same year, the Trapezoid Kids would do a "Dwell-A-Thon" special on Blue Face. In late 2007/early 2008, a 2007 re-release was made of the film, documenting a change in the logo as the original film still had the Cormorant logo in the opening credits. As of August 18th of 2010, Blue Face has entered into Ivan's Vault, and is no longer available for view on the web.
The outcome of The Blue Face Film Strips was that it was the most successful piece shown in the FILM 118 class. It earned a 4.0 for the class, and in spite some criticism that the storyboards were incomplete, it was instantly the class favorite. Before it had even shown, the class cheered: "Bring on the Blue Face!" The only other criticism it received was that the plot bore similarities to that of The Ring.
Along with the earliest attempts at Ciem, several other pieces would be attempted as DSHW machinomics. The first of these many releases to the official website of the time was Star Flops. But along with many of them, there was also a Sims 2 Special Edition of Blue Face. With a few things changed to accommodate for the characters' lack of proper animations, it is an otherwise faithful retelling of the 2003 live action video.
- Differences from the film
- Kelina is never shown holding up the titular film strips in the cartoon.
- Katie sleeps differently on the sofa.
- Marzwhatti has pointy ears. He had no ears in the film.
- Kelina is never shown being strangled telekinetically by Marzwhatti in the cartoon.
- Instead of shaking her sister to confirm her death, Katie sighs in depression and then tries to run to get away.
The closest thing to a sequel that was made for Blue Face was 2008's Volkonir Journals: Attempt #43. The creator of this short would go on to produce two live broadcast shows for an educational access channel and documentaries such as Farewell Graduate. There are plans for prequels in place, such as Volkonir: Fall of Cortascius, Volkonir Journals, and more. Further sequels include plans for Volkonir: The Series and Volkonir: Rise of Semaphry - the last of these of which would in-turn inspire a sequel series dubbed The Knights of Cortascius. Outside of the prequels and Volkonir: The Series, there are no further plans being pursued regarding Marzwhatti's character arc.
- Kings in the Corner
- Volkonir Journals: Attempt #43
- Volkonir universe
- Dozerfleet Comics
- Ciem webcomic series