Rachel gets zombie-ed ala moi.

Rachel gets zombie-ed ala moi.

On a blustery day in November, I was trolling through the beautiful binary bowels of Craigslist – namely the “gigs” section – when I came across a wondrous little ad. Somebody needed a makeup artist for a commercial shoot. A zombie makeup artist to be exact.

My hot little heart went thump thump THUMP.

I immediately whipped up and sent off an email to this mysterious somebody and found Gabe Martinez – author, writer, teacher and fledgling film/all-things-media maker – on the receiving end.

“Twas a serendipitous and smile-inducing day.

We decided to meet at Ritual Coffee in the Mission a few days later (he had hot chocolate, no whipped cream) and wiled away a cool 45 minutes talking about the joyous woes and towering triumphs – yes triumphs – of  our creative dabblings.

And just what are you up to?

Oh, me? I wear quite a few sombreros and bonnets as well, toggling between writer, actor, photographer and now zombie-er.

He told me about the project – a short and sweet commercial coupling together equal parts humor, horror, and hopefully a hard-hitting message – which he hoped to pitch to different insurance companies.

We got along swimmingly and he asked to see photographs of some of my work.

Double dog Dang, I thought. I hope these iPhone shots of Halloween will convince him I’m the zombie-er of his dreams…

Get to the good part!

Right, right, sorry.

The photos were deemed A OK and the shoot was set for December 8th in our director’s apt. in Berkeley right near the Ashby stop; my call was 8:30 A.M. It was a Saturday. Don’t ever tell me I’m not devoted to art.

I crawled from bed onto my bike and hurtled down Adeline from the bad side of the Freeway (a little-known neighborhood called Longfellow in Oakland).


Masa going over the script and storyboard; not pictured, Gabe as sound-master.

I spotted Masa Sugawara – our director, host, and Norman Bates-esque psycho for the shoot – smoking outside on the sidewalk.

He plied me with tea, slippers (no shoes inside!) and tales of living in L.A. (which he hated). I nodded happily, pacing the narrow halls eager to splash some blood across some necks already.

Soon enough, our crew began piling in to Masa’s apartment; 9 of us darted about like serene sardines slipping through one another’s paths as we moved beds, scouted angles, tacked up fabric, taped up windows, donned monster makeup and sound-checked. The rooms hummed with activity occasionally echoing with, “quiet on the set!”

I was in charge of Rachel’s face – soon to be rendered bloody and rotting; she is an actress and makeup artist as well. The result was pretty ravishing if I do say myself. I found myself flinching looking at the chunky flakes of blood that dominated the lower half of her face. Masa, Ben (our filmographer) and Gabe darted from room to room carefully crafting each scene with Darcy (and of course the zombies.)

photo 8

Shane, gearing up to be the monster under the bed…

Poor Shane was stuffed under Masa’s bed to be a monster – well, just a monster’s hands to be exact and Masa donned an oversized trenchcoat, a gory little gash (via Rachel’s deft hand) and grabbed a saran-wrapped knife to attack Darcy from the shower.

Maniacal doesn’t begin to cover his level of authenticity. (See gallery below).

Around one we winded down, noshing damn-good hummus and falafel; the zombies began scrubbing their faces, arms and necks, slowly watching their monster-hood swirl down the drain.

Rachel’s neck was left looking like she had a high-school-intense makeout sesh; it was very very pink. We winced at what people would think about her “rash” on the BART home to SF.

photo 3Don’t say she isn’t devoted to her art either.

I’ve yet to see the final project, but I’m all pins and needles about it. It was the finest way I’ve spent a Saturday in a long time; I hope it’s only the beginning of many sleep-deprived weekends with this talented crew.

Stay tuned for the official launch…..