Point of Infection, a new short film

about, you guessed it, ZOMBIES.

By Katherine Sweetman

Logline: After a virus breaks loose, a family man awakens to find his loved ones missing. With the help of a trusted ally, he uncovers his family’s whereabouts, but only to come to the harsh reality that the virus has spread further than he has thought

Two weekends ago, I was on the set of Point of Infection. I went to help out and take production photos at the request of the director, Jodi Clley, a documentary filmmaker and video instructor that I met a fews years ago when I was interested in non-Hispanic folks, “gringos”, who lived in Tijuana simply because they loved the city. Jodi was an interesting case study on that topic. She was a single, young, white women (from Vermont) who lived in an apartment near the beach of Playas de Tijuana. She was also in the process of obtaining her MBA from SDSU and working at a homeless youth community center in San Diego –and all the while commuting from Tijuana. The place she lived wasn’t a gated community or resort of any kind like one might typically imagine “gringos” to reside, it was a one bedroom modest apartment with no other whities in sight. And Jodi moved had lived there for over 6 years.

Today, Jodi has obtained that Masters in Business Administration degree, started her own commercial video production company, VideologiCo, she’s an instructor at Platt College and the Media Arts Center San Diego, and apparently she also directs zombie films on the side. I had to go check this out.

Saturday 8AM. I was feeling a bit like a zombie myself as I drove the windy stretches of Wild Cat Canyon Road in Lakeside, CA, to the set. The location was perfect. I found the crew setting up outside a ranch-style home on a large plot of land that looked as if the zombie apocalypse had already arrived.

On set I met a cast (and crew) of characters: actors, writers, producers, and others willing to volunteer their time and work hard to take this script to a film.

I had so much fun Saturday, that I returned Sunday as well to see the zombie transformations done by local film and zombie-buff Beth Accomando of CinemaJunkie and KPBS.

The following week I caught up with Jodi and the two writers of the film, Martin Gomez and Jean-Pierre Chapoteau, to ask them some questions about Point of Infection and the filmmaking process.

Interview with Director, Jodi Cilley (JC), co-writer Martin Gomez (MG) and co-writer Jean-Pierre Chapoteau (JPC). Martin Gomez studied screenwriting at UCSD Extension and SDCC, San Diego. Jean-Pierre Chapoteau is a screen writer and film student. Both Martin and Jean-Pierre are founding members of the San Diego City College Film Society. Interviewer Katherine Sweetman (KS).

KS   Martin and JeanPierre, you two wrote this film, give me an overview of the story behind Point of Infection. How is this a unique take on an established topic and genre of filmmaking?

MG   We wanted to do something a little different than your usual zombie style genre movie. We really wanted this to be an emotional journey seen through the eyes of a man on the brink of death and the sacrifices he makes to protect his loved ones. We truly believe there is something for everybody in this film. If you’re looking for some action, a little bit of blood and guts and a scare or two, you’re going to get that. If you’re looking for deep characters and an emotionally satisfying ending, you’re going to get that too. That is not to say we haven’t thrown in a twist or two to keep the audience guessing.

JPC   Point of Infection is a unique take on the “zombie” genre by giving the characters more depth. After Martin Gomez sent me the first draft of the script, I watched other zombie films and realized that most of the films were made purely for shock value. So our intention on Point of Infection was to take the viewer on an emotional ride as they followed our characters. We wanted the viewer to know Harry and Patrick, understand their actions, and feel for them as they fought and suffered through the world we created. Another thing Martin and I firmly avoided was the use of the term “zombie”, for Point of Infection is not just another “zombie” film but focuses more on what lengths a father would go through to protect his family. We wanted the infected people to sort of be a back drop to the real story we wanted the viewer to experience.

KS   Jodi, You are an established videographer, documentary filmmaker, and video instructor, but have you directed anything like this before?

JC   I actually haven’t done anything like this before. I only recently started working with fiction films. I love it, but it’s a whole new type of challenge. Directing actors is something I have not really done too much of so it is something that I am constantly learning more about, studying, and trying to find new ways of doing better.

KS   How did you come to direct this Zombie film then, may I ask?

JC   The Producer [Paul Giret] and I have been friends for a while and we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together. One day he just called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in directing Point of Infection. Without even reading the script, I said yes. I was excited for the opportunity to work with him and to gain more experience with fiction film.

KS  What is the most challenging part of directing a zombie film?

JC   It’s pretty challenging to stay focused on your actors and make sure you are getting what you want and need from them. There are a lot of moving parts in shooting a film and it is important to really be able to drown out all the background and stay focused on performance and vision.

KS   Tell me about the location where this film was shot. I heard there were REAL dead bodies found on the site not too long ago.

MG   We were very fortunate to get that awesome location. The property is actually owned by the family of cast member Angela Luevano, who plays the character “Katie” in the film. The property has been in their family for a couple of generations and really was the perfect backdrop for Point of Infection. When I first stepped foot onto the property it reminded me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. But instead of spending millions of dollars creating a set, nature had done it for us. You can walk around and find rusted pitchforks, rusty old barrel drums, abandoned tractors that look like they haven’t been operated in 50 years…all there for your filming pleasure. It’s such a unique properly with very kind and accommodating owners who really allowed us the freedom we needed to make this movie great. And, yes, there was a legitimate dead body found on the property a few months prior to shooting. Rumors have it that the deceased was performing secret experiments in an underground lab on the southeast side of the 13-acre lot. Something went terribly wrong one fateful night…evidence found hinted at a second person involved with the experiments but no second body was ever recovered. At the time of this writing the underground lab has not yet been located. Another rumor suggests that it was simply an overdosed druggie who was left behind by his friends. I guess we’ll never really know what happened…

KS. Where did you find your talent?

MG   Angela Luevano (Katie) and Sam Reid (Patrick) are both personal friends of mine. Angela has done work on the stage, in front of the camera doing some hosting gigs, as well as voiceover work. She’s really a talented young actress who was up for the challenge that the role requested of her. Although Sam had limited acting experience, he brought the passion and execution of a seasoned vet. Anthony Neustadt is a city college student and aspiring actor. The second I laid eyes on him I knew I had my Harry character. He really brought that character to life and was a pleasure to work with. As for the zombies… that was easy part. Who doesn’t want to play a zombie?

KS    Tell me about some of the important people involved in this film and what their roles were.

MG  There’s our amazing producer Paul Giret; without Paul none of this would’ve ever been possible. Our director Jodi Cilley from VideologiCo. Such a breeze to work with and so amazingly talented. Oscar Velasquez with his fancy cameras and lenses that I only hope to one day understand. My fellow writer Jean-Pierre Chapoteau. Watch out for this guy, he’s gonna make some noise one day. Beth Accomando who did a kick-ass job on makeup and a very special shout out to the Morse family for allowing us to use their home. This film would not have been the same anywhere else.

JPC   Working with Martin on ‘Point of Infection’ was a real treat.The experience broadened my craft as a screenwriter, for I never co-wrote a screenplay at this length with anyone. If Martin and I could continue working on projects together, the San Diego Film Society will definitely be a force to be reckoned with

JC   Filmmaking is truly a collaborative art form and everyone’s role is so important to the quality of the final product.

More on the film at Point of Infection website and Facebook Page

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