Day66 – Making the Music of the apocalypse

Music is a vital component to any media project, be it a film, advert, or even a computer game. It is a core component to setting the mood in most instances, so to finally get the opportunity to contribute to a project like this filled me up with excitement and OODLES of ideas.

A bit of background for me – I’ve been musically involved most of my life. I’ve been in various local bands and contributed to Beacon Productions for their TV Sci Fi series, The Adventures of Stephen Brown in 00’s. I am at my happiest behind my Nektar Panorama P6, Reason, and a vast bank of Native Instruments VSTs.

Russ and I go way back. School in fact. So to receive a script one day and be asked by one of my closest friends if I could do a soundtrack to his film, was not only an honour, but a sign of trust. No pressure then!

Horror is one of my favourite genres of film, as well as science fiction. I’m also an avid gamer, which means some heavy influence from that form of entertainment. So where did I want to take this?

I don’t know about you, but when I think zombies, I think 80s, John Carpenter. But I also wanted to experiment with influences from the likes of The Prodigy, Hans Zimmer (the Inception soundtrack is outstanding!), Boards of Canada, and anything else that creates tension, atmosphere and even dread.

My first priority was a theme. Something that is recognisable, something that when someone thinks Day66, they remember that little snippet of music. Taking the Inception soundtrack as an example, I’ll always remember the theme from that, and the build up near the end when the scenes cross over to each dream sequence. Nothing gave me goosebumps more at the time than that. Two evenings of work and bumping ideas to Russ, and I had come up with a delicate, piano sound, but added a subtle, reverse reverb to it to give it a little, to use a technical term, ‘weirdness’, to it. it also gave me a melody to play with throughout the film should it need to be used as a filler in places.

Next came the background, atmospheric tracks. Clearly a lot of low, dark synths, maybe some church organs, and a mixture of minor and major chords. Or just pedal notes which don’t really go anywhere, but creates that sense of the unexpected.

Throughout the course of a few months, I had built up a bank of ideas that I could return to and edit as and when edits came through. The first edit arrived around January 2020, and the first few tracks were laid, at least in my mind, to the film. This spurred some new ideas which were quickly added to my Day66 folder.

So where are we at now? Well, the theme is done, as is the first 10-15 minutes. We have music for a couple of montages, and I am currently working on a track for Z-Day – the day we successfully recruited a lot of willing volunteers who gave up their day to be a zombie, and what a day that was. It was wonderful to meet everyone, and thank you all for giving up your time for this!

Here is a montage of things to come. I hope you’ll enjoy what we have so far, and I hope you are as keen as I am to see the end result!

Day 66 Reflects

Editing Day 66 has begun, thanks to Tippers Pritchard, who has taken over editing the entire film.  Progress is expected to be slow, as Tippers understandably has to concentrate on paid work as his priority but he is keen to get stuck in and excited to work on the project.  Therefore there is less to write about at present, with filming complete, so I’m reflecting back on experiences to date.

It is hoped that the film will be complete within the first half of 2020.  Once edited, there is still foley sound and music to be added, and likely a few additional brief shots here and there.

Tippers was one of many extras who attended the hordes in Botley this June.  He found out through a mate, though this turned out to be a massive coincidence, as Tippers has done many projects with Beacon Productions in the past.

The opening title sequence is well underway, with some fine tuning still required and actual credits added!  I will be meeting Liam Low Ying soon to progress this.

I have had several people comment that they thoroughly enjoyed being part of Z-Day, despite the unusual weather.  Here is some of the feedback I have received:

 “I got involved after my grandmother found the advert for extras in the Daily Echo, as I am a SFX makeup artist we both thought it would be a good reason to contact Day 66 about being a makeup artist for the zombies. Working on a lower budget gave a foot in the door about successful budgeting and making realistic wounds with more simplistic materials. My favourite wound and makeup would have to be the smashed in head zombie with the exposed brain. This is one of my most successful zombies to date, due to the sculpting detail I put into the prosthetic. The best moments on the film were getting to know my fellow makeup artists and making friends with them, also with moments in between takes chatting to the actors while they were all made up as zombies, it was a funny atmosphere to be in.”

Rhianna Kingdon (makeup artist)

“I still smile from remembering the experience I had shooting the film that day. The weather wasn’t ideal but that was soon put out of my head by the warm welcome from Russ and the crew. The makeup artists that made me were amazing and friendly as well making me look awesome as a zombie. My fellow cast mates were great to have fun with. Everyone I had the pleasure of talking to that day made the time between the shots go quickly and helped me forget the cold and wet weather. I would film for anyone involved in this again in a heartbeat –  was so much fun. Thanks!”

David Charlton (zombie extra)

“Really loved being part of this. The makeup team did an amazing job of transforming everyone. Some of the wounds looked very deep and disgustingly scary. Throughout rain and wind everyone was in such good spirits. I felt very at home wandering round a field looking gormless, I think it came naturally to me! Thank you for letting me be part of this zombie experience.”

Kate Drummond (zombie extra)

This feedback is amazing – I’m so grateful to all that have given up their time and who have believed in this project.  Your support really has been appreciated.

We now have a YouTube page dedicated to Day 66 material.  There’s only one video in there at the moment, but more will be added as they are made by Liam Low Ying and others, including behind the scenes vids/interviews.  You can access the page via this link – don’t forget to subscribe to the channel please!

Don’t forget to check out the Day 66 website,, and also follow us on Twitter (@Day66_Movie), Facebook (Day 66 Movie), Snapchat and Instagram (day66movie) for updates on progress.  Taking a few seconds to follow us, and re-tweet / share our posts really does make the difference in getting word out there!  Thanks allJ

Day 66 – Z-Day

Late May, I was walking round Marwell with the kids and took a call from George Howarth from Botley Co-op.  I’d written to several retailers requesting support for the 15 June hordes shoot, given the community nature of the project in providing opportunities for local residents and students, to get involved in film production. 

George recognised the value of the project and was keen to assist.  He explained he’d be applying to head office for £250 worth of stock, to include items such as bottled water, sausage rolls etc.  Nothing was guaranteed but this was excellent news.  I’d already asked extras and crew to bring a packed lunch and decided not to broadcast this news in case nothing came to fruition.  Locks Heath Waitrose had already supplied biscuits for the event, which were gratefully received.

I’d become somewhat of an amateur meteorologist in the weeks leading up to 15 June, checking the weather outlook several times a day.  During the course of production, I have come to trust the BBC report more than the MET office.  I find their weather map in particular to be pretty accurate.

I’d heard the weather for that weekend had been described as ‘unsettled’, which left me feeling the same.  So much planning had gone into this shoot that nothing short of a storm would cause me to cancel plans.  But I knew even the slightest amount of rain would either put people off attending or simply prevent us getting all required shots.  So much was at stake.

I’d become financially committed too.  I was advised within a fortnight of the event that we would no longer be permitted use of the annex toilet on site.  I therefore arranged for three portaloos to be delivered the Thursday before.  Without going into detail, let me just say these were not cheap!  Fortunately my parents very kindly offered to cover the cost.

Public liability insurance was my next big cost.  Again, I won’t go into figures but ouchy!  Let me just say it was either about the same or perhaps even more than the total I have spent on the production to date (excluding the portaloos!).  I quite simply was not prepared to go without and in any case, the landowners quite rightly wanted evidence of this before the event.

I also believed the event should have a risk assessment completed.  I’d not done one before, but used a template from work as a guide and made it relevant to our activity.  I wanted to do everything as responsibly as possible, given the numbers expected.  Safety always has to be the number one factor.

This was a useful process, as it enabled me to think in more detail about planning jobs for crew.  I decided I’d need two crew members to initially deal with parking.  I wanted both in hi-vis jackets and on hand to ensure cars parked where and how needed.  I wanted access left available for emergency vehicles if required.

The weather the week before was horrible.  Rain, rain and more rain. I think it was the Wednesday evening we had a particularly heavy downpour and the landowner contacted me breaking the news he no longer wanted cars parked on the six acre field through fear it would be too boggy.


Over a hundred expected attendees and I’d just lost my parking.  48hrs to come up with a plan, on top of everything else!

I decided to approach Woodhill school, which was just down the road.  In fact, I was at work on the Thursday when the toilets were delivered on site, so my dad (also Russ) oversaw their arrival and then popped into the school to make the request.  The receptionist took his details and said the headmaster would phone later that evening.

Nothing was heard until the Friday morning, when he received a voicemail stating it was fine for me to park my vehicle there – I just needed to hand them my registration! Clearly the request had not been fully understood, so he shaved, booted and suited and popped back to the school to make the request again.  He clearly made a good impression, as the school were on board.  Phew!  I put an email out that afternoon confirming the revised parking arrangements.

As mentioned last issue, Steve Launay would not be present for the hordes shoot.  I therefore popped over on the Thursday evening to collect all the equipment.  Steve also leant me an antique gazebo.  On the Friday morning, I enlisted my wife, Selina, and my father to assist me in constructing all five gazebos I had acquired.

The first three were dead easy.  However the Launay circa 1850 edition came with no instructions and consisted of a bunch of poles resembling Meccano.  We had no idea what went where and every time we came close to fitting sides together, they came apart and twatted us over the head.  There was evidence Steve had previously experienced similar issues, as the poles had tape on the ends and we ended up following suit and taped everything together!  It was extremely unstable until well-tethered. 

We’d wasted an incredible amount of time on that one gazebo, which took longer than the others combined.  When the fifth gazebo came out its bag and we realised it was from the same era, we decided four were enough!

Next on the list of chores was signage.  I decided when signed-in, each extra would be given the letter A, B or C and this would correspond with not only what gazebo they reported to for makeup, but would determine which zombie group they were part of on the main field.  Briefing a hundred zombies in one go would be extremely difficult but three people briefing a group of around thirty each would be far more manageable.

I hung A, B and C signs in the gazebos, along with a plan of the site and a Day 66 logo.  Other Day 66 signs were placed at the entrance to the site, opposite the front gate and on the main road through Botley so people knew where to turn.  I’d made additional signs for parking attendants and to remind people that entry to the main field was only permitted if they’d handed in their disclaimer.

My father had kindly leant me five of his radios, which we then tested, along with a megaphone he’d purchased online for a tenner.  These all worked fine – we could easily communicate from the field to the school parking area.  Given the price, I’d not expected much from the megaphone but it worked a treat.

I received an email from James Robinson from the Daily Echo advising that the article he’d interviewed me for a few weeks earlier would be in the Saturday 15 June paper.  They’d not wanted to publish it earlier in case it gave the location away. 

With the site prepped and extras and crew appraised of the new parking arrangements, that evening all I had to do was pack my car with kit and props and try to relax.  Oh, and boil some eggs…

I woke up around 4am on the Saturday unable to get back to sleep – things were playing over in my mind about the big day.  I saw the article on the Echo website and stuck a link to the Day 66 social media pages.  I once again then checked the weather and reckoned we’d be alright until about 1/2pm when it would likely rain and not stop.  But there was nothing I could do.

I popped to the Co-op on route to see if the supplies were ready.  George was not in but staff assured me they’d ring when stock arrived and was ready for collection.

I arrived on site around 8.15am.  It was a sunny, dry start.  Both fields felt firm.  Good start.

I assigned sign-in duties to my mother, Helen.  Beacon member Mat Hasker took on parking duties in hi-vis, joined by my father.  Mat had the important role of holding the Day 66 sign outside the school.  Mat has a lovely personality, ideal for meeting and greeting and he was the perfect man for this job, as I’m quite sure extras will agree with.  The last thing they needed was being met by a ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude, having given up their time to be there.  Mat and my father had a radio each.  “Parking” and “Old man” became their impromptu call signs.  My mother had one too – “Sign-in”, as did I, “Director”.  Not rocket science!  Totton student, James Caven, was assigned gate duty and had the fifth and final radio to start with.

Billy Jameson picked up a slightly hungover Giorgio Cavaciuti from Botley train station.  Giorgio had kindly come down from London for the shoot, having celebrated his birthday the day before!  I was impressed at his dedication!  Both would be our primary camera operators for the shoot.

Sam Warren also attended, taking on sound duties and also used a second camera to get alternative angle shots of the horde. 

Luke Goble, ever reliable on this production, was my assistant and was in charge of the shot list. 

Liam Low Ying was on behind-the-scenes photography and interview duty.

Totton college students Armin Penzes, Riley Cole, Midnight Cook, Shannon Harris and the aforementioned James were runners.  Fellow student Matthew Wright was placed within the horde as a mole, along with fellow moles Thomas Rawlings and my brother, Howard Tribe.  I tasked them with taking charge of a zombie group each.

Less makeup students arrived than anticipated from the London college of Beauty Therapy but there were still 19 of them, plus two lecturers.  I was so grateful for the effort they went to in travelling down from London by coach and they arrived extremely keen and raring to go.  Nine makeup students, plus a lecturer, attended from Solent University.  They had exactly the same positive attitude towards the production.  Lead injury detail makeup artists for the day were the returning Molly Savery and Rhianna Kingdon.  Both mucked in with helping getting the horde prepped.

I made a point of meeting and greeting as many extras as I could, keen to thank them for giving up their time.  They were all genuinely lovely, nice people and all seemed to instantly gel.  I then addressed them all by megaphone and explained the rough order of events.

As expected and planned-for, some extras had arrived pre made-up, so whilst the majority were still being ‘gorified’, we made a start around 9.50am.  We filmed some shots at the bottom of the ten acre field, where my character Jack appeared from the woods, followed by members of the deceased community that would come to be known as the ‘tree zombies’! 

I’d mistakenly thought that Armin was competent with operating the boom, when in fact he’d never used one.  We therefore used the opportunity to train student Armin and Billy oversaw this.  Giorgio started on camera.  When Sam arrived, he took a second camera and got shots of the zombies from the side s they emerged from the tree line.

I received a call from the Co-op confirming our supplies were ready for collection and tasked my mother with collecting these.  Little did I know she’d require a small removal truck!

When word reached me that there had been no activity in the car park for an hour, I called back my father and Mat and stood down James on the front gate.  Mat was put on field guard duties.  James gave his radio to Howard, so I had means to communicate with the horde.  When the horde were all made-up, they made their way to the top end of the field, awaiting instruction.

We still had a few shots to finish where we were, so I sent Sam and Armin up to the top to record foley sound including individual zombies, small groups and the whole horde.  With the odd sound-cameo by a dog walker chatting over the fence. 

I gather Luke then took on the important role of keeping morale up within the horde whilst they patiently waited, even getting them to floss!  (As in the modern dance – not a mass zombie teeth cleaning exercise).  Howard also tells me he was talking to them about Love Island and asking the vegetarians within the horde why they wouldn’t eat meat and yet had a fascination with human flesh!

Meanwhile down the bottom, so to speak, I was having trouble getting my primary weapon out, being a baseball bat Jack had hammered nails into.  You may recall the anecdote…

Firstly, I was incapable of reaching the bat, which was sticking out the bag on my back.  Secondly, once we cheated things slightly, I still couldn’t pull it out, as the nails kept catching the fabric.

I then proceeded to make hungover Giorgio jump out his skin, by charging at the camera screaming “Arrrrrrgh!” without warning. 

When we finished those shots, I sent everyone up the top end, whilst I dived into the woods and swapped my clean jeans for a bloodier pair.

We then got some great shots of the horde walking past the camera, along with shots of me running amongst them with a hammer.  Georgia Jackson, of the Daily Echo, then attended and took video and photographs of the action unfolding.  I was briefly interviewed before cracking on with further shots.  I had planned to follow these with aerial shots courtesy of Billy and his drone, however, the weather took a turn for the worse and we experienced a downpour.  I therefore called time for lunch.  The announcement of the Co-op survival package noticeably increased morale at a vital time!  And blimey did they deliver the goods!  A HUGE thank you to Botley Co-op for the generous supply of goodies for our students, extras and crew.

As you can imagine, rain stopped the minute we broke for lunch but the horde and crew deserved the break.  After lunch, I noticed numbers had dropped in the horde.  It was then I realised numbers overall were not as expected.

I had pretty much bang on a hundred extras confirmed to attend and exactly fifty turned up.  Of those fifty, nine went AWOL at lunch.  Still, the fact I hadn’t realised until that point showed that having fifty extras out on that field forming a horde still looked pretty impressive and given the nature of our film, actually getting as many as fifty extras (not to mention the makeup and crew) involved is spectacular in itself. 

Given the forecast and last minute parking issues, I’m not surprised some dropped out.  But I’d never have guessed such a large percentage would and this is a learning point for future productions. 

We recommenced filming and started with a shot by the tree line I’d missed in error involving the baseball bat.  I called for runners to assist retrieving props and realised they’d gone AWOL too!  Word reached me via radio they’d opted to walk into Botley to get lunch!  This was frustrating, as at times I was having to act, direct and run across the ten acre field to get props myself.

Molly and Rhianna were then up for their first injury detail, a gash caused by the bat.  Then a laceration from the claw end of the hammer.  Then a head injury from repeatedly smashing a head with the hammer…I’m hoping the BBFC are suitably repulsed by all this when that time comes.

Talking of the head smashing, I’d brought along a brain splatter mix I made in February.  It consisted of fake blood, cranberries, and bread – only now with an added layer of mould!  We positioned the camera – quite a new one for Beacon Productions – on the ground near the mix, as I hit it several times with the hammer.  I had hoped the mix would splat in my face.  However, very little hit me but a lot hit the camera, including the lens!  After my last camera incident, I was hoping to keep this one a little discreet, but the wonders of social media scuppered those plans!  Still, the shot looks FANTASTIC!

I had to make some tough decisions.  I cut one attack sequence to save time.  It involved my least favourite injury.  There was also a bit where the claw end of the hammer was supposed to get imbedded in a zombie’s forehead, which we would’ve achieved using wire, however, this would also be too time consuming to set up, so I opted to have the extra simply hold it in place.  It actually comes across quite funny – likely a much needed moment of comic relief.

Molly and Rhianna had a few more gory delights to work on but I had a couple of my own too!  I’d chopped the ends off those boiled eggs and soaked them in fake blood overnight.  I then carefully placed one on the end of my knife and it gave the appearance of being an eyeball I’d ripped out poor Claire Goble’s head.  Those Goble’s don’t have much luck with their eyes – poor Luke had a similar experience in mid-2018 during our very first zombie sequence.

This was followed by my favourite shot – me cutting open my brother’s stomach and pulling out his intestines, involving those tights I talked about preparing in a previous Venturer article.  As a recap, they contained tissue paper and had been tied together to form a long sausage-like string of guts.  I’d then attached them to an old white t shirt.  I got Mat to abandon his post, put on some gloves and soak the intestines in fake blood.  Howard then put on this t shirt under his other one and we carefully positioned the guts between the two layers.  They worked a treat and disgusted those present.  A week later and the blood has only just disappeared from my hands.

Molly and Rhianna then had a couple of knife-to-forehead applications to action, so we sent a second camera to the six acre field to get close up shots of those and other injury detail close-ups.

When all remaining shots were in the can, I decided the time had come to get the drone up.  It was no longer raining and Billy confirmed conditions were suitable.  The drone was a great way to end the day.  I stood with Billy and crew towards the bottom of the ten acre field, well out of shot.  The horde made their way from the top to mid field.  It was fascinating watching the drone in action.  Billy is a talented drone operator.  There was still a fair breeze but you’d never have guessed it from watching back the footage.  From the angle I had, it looked like the front row of my horde were about to be decapitated.  Whilst this would’ve looked great on camera, it would not likely have gone down well at court.  Fortunately, Billy assured me it was just perspective and my extras were well clear!

We kept the drone up to repeat the sequence of me running through them with a hammer.  After one take, we repeated the shot, only this time I’d let the zombies crowd a little too close round me.  I therefore decided to end the day on an unscripted zombie massacre, allowing the circle around me to tighten until I was effectively bundled on the ground.  This adlibbed “alternative ending” was just for fun but ended the day on a laugh and extras started a round of applause, proceeding to shake by hand one by one, thanking me for a great day.  It was lovely to hear and I’m just glad that despite the conditions and waiting around, so many of them still had a fantastic experience.

Extras started leaving and the crew assisted in a clear up.  Unfortunately, as I was packing away, I realised I’d lost my knife.  You may recall from around May last year, this had happened before and against the odds, I’d found it among the fallen leaves of the Addison woods ground!  Alas, there was no finding it on this occasion.  It was a bittersweet ending to the day, as the knife had served Jack well throughout the film and it would’ve been a nice prop to keep.  I ran a load of rubbish down the tip and enjoyed several alcoholic beverages that evening!  Months of planning and stress was now over.

I returned to the location the following afternoon, to pack away the gazebos.  Fortunately, Steve had given me permission to retire his, so I made another trip to the tip.     

Monday’s Daily Echo featured an article on the shoot.  I am extremely grateful to the Echo for their interest in the film and for helping spread word of the project.

Following the shoot, one of the extras, Tippers Pritchard, has offered to edit the remainder of the film.  Tippers has worked with Beacon Productions several times before and I look forward to seeing his work on Day 66.

I’ve loved reading the comments on social media, specifically Facebook, that followers of Day 66 have left regarding the shoot.  Several people have uploaded their own photos, which was fab as I didn’t have opportunity to take many myself.

Liam took lots of photos and behind the scenes videos and intends on putting together a mini documentary on the day.  I look forward to seeing that when completed.  Liam has also messed around with one or two videos he took on the day and my personal favourite is the clip of me running amok with the hammer, to which he put the Guile theme from Street Fighter!  There’s also a hilarious Bullseye darts clip, which I’ll let you discover for yourself over on our social medias!

The thing I’m most proud of is managing to make this all come together on the day.  It was lovely meeting so many like-minded (warped minded?!) strangers, who share a love for the genre.  All the outfits and makeup were brilliant.  Everyone was extremely friendly and made a top effort. 

As this was the biggest shoot that Beacon Productions have undertaken, I intend on sending out a feedback survey to extras and crew, so we can learn from any shortcomings and discover what we did well that should be repeated in future.  I’m a firm believer in seeking feedback, as it shows people not only you care about their opinions but it provides an opportunity to better yourself and working practices of the club.  

Once edited, foley sound will be required for several scenes and then Mat Hasker will need to work his magic with the soundtrack.  Liam and I have also started work on the opening credits sequence.  I intend on arranging a premier once the film is completed, which will serve as a wrap party too!

Many thanks once again to all supporters, extras, cast, makeup teams and crew that have worked on Day 66 to date.  You are all legends.

Don’t forget to check out the Day 66 website,, and also follow us on Twitter (@Day66_Movie), Facebook (Day 66 Movie), Snapchat and Instagram (day66movie) for updates on progress.  Taking a few seconds to follow us, and re-tweet / share our posts really does make the difference in getting word out there!  Thanks allJ

Day 66 – No guts, no glory!

I returned to our location in Botley mid May to really get my head around how I’m going to shoot the hordes on 15 June.  At that time, the field was covered in hay.  I’ve since been sent video clips of tractors baling the hay, which was actually thoroughly fascinating but also a relief knowing the field is ready for our zombies to descend!  I will hopefully be heading back early June, and again the day before to set up.

Giorgio Cavaciuti contacted me offering his services as cameraman, which was fantastic.  Giorgio has covered several shoots now and is travelling some distance to assist us on this important day.  Billy Jameson has also kindly committed to lending a hand with camera, including the use of his drone to get aerial shots of the horde.  I cannot wait to see those!

I have a small army assembling from Totton college to bolster zombie numbers and also be on hand to take behind the scenes footage. Liam Low Ying is returning to also capture behind the scenes stuff and Day 66 soundtrack maestro Mat Hasker will be on hand as a runner.  Sam Warren, Luke Goble, Howard Tribe and John & Ann Hampton are other returning crew keen to get involved.

One person who will sadly not be present for Beacon’s most ambitious shoot to date is Steve Launay.  Steve’s father, John, has unfortunately been hit with some bad health of late and has requested Steve’s presence when he travels to France, that very same day.  Steve is gutted he won’t make the shoot but looks forward to seeing the results.

Most props are ready now – I had the fun task of making intestines recently.  I’ve become a dab hand at making props over the course of this production but I was concerned about this one – but then I decided, no guts, no glory! 

I found a great YouTube video that suggested a few ways to do this.  My favourite, and by far the better looking, involved the use of tights.  I got my wife, Selina, to buy me a pack (far too embarrassing to buy myself) and I cut each pair in half and stuffed with white tissue paper.  I then tied each stocking together and attached one end to an old t shirt from my brother’s stag do, which bears the logo “Howard’s last fling – Prague 2016”.  On the day itself, the intestines will be carefully soaked in fake blood and at the required moment, Howard himself will wear this t shirt underneath his zombie costume and I shall proceed to rip the guts from his stomach.  Should look suitably disgusting.  Back in 2016 when I was sat in Goldfingers, Prague, for best part of six hours (strictly there on business), I had no idea what was in store for my attire that night.

I’ve now completed the shot list for the day, but need to revisit this to ensure I’ve prioritised shots with the hordes and also made the best use of time available whilst the majority of extras are made up.  Some filming will get underway straight away, as I have around 20 extras arriving already made-up, which is excellent.  Numbers currently stand at around 85 extras, plus however many a performing arts college from Southampton are supplying (around 20-25 I believe).  I may also have a few extra make-up artists now coming from Southampton, which should help make light work of things.

Extras and crew have been asked to bring a packed lunch along to the shoot, although I have been attempting to secure a donation / sponsorship from local retailers.  These efforts are ongoing and should I be successful I will communicate that to all attendees before the event.

On Sunday 26th May I travelled to the Fordingbridge area with Liam Low Ying to get shots on my mobile phone for the opening credits, which Liam is editing to fit the theme tune by Mat Hasker.  Talking of which, that tune has recently been re-jigged by Mat to sound more apocalyptic.  I’m loving the new sound and can’t wait for everyone to hear it!  Be sure to check our social media feeds for a couple of amusing videos Liam has put together from our trip.  #gorse… 

Late 2018 I sent the editor of Total Film, Jane Crowther, a set of answers to a ‘meet our readers’ monthly article that features in a subscriber only edition of the magazine.  The article asks readers a bunch of film related questions.  I used the opportunity to plug Day 66, even wearing my baseball cap for the profile photo.  Despite being told to look out for it in a future magazine, and being sent the entire Breaking Bad DVD boxset as a thank you for participating, I’d given up hope it would feature, given how far into 2019 we’d got.  Imagine therefore my joy to see it in the latest TF – just before the hordes themselves!  Perfect timing or what?!  I’m very grateful to TF for allowing the plug and giving us this opportunity to spread the word even further.

That’s really it for this month folks – I can’t wait to get these hordes done and dusted.  It’s been a real headache to arrange and stressful as hell.  But things are falling into place nicely now and I’d just be grateful that if you can’t make it, at least please keep your fingers crossed for decent weather!

PLEASE REMEMBER – We need as many Beacon members getting involved with the hordes as possible.  Not only Beacon members, but friends and family too, so please please please spread the word!  Contact me via email (find it on the club’s global emails) or via Facebook or any of the below Day 66 social medias.  Thank you for your continued support!

Don’t forget to check out the Day 66 website,, and also follow us on Twitter (@Day66_Movie), Facebook (Day 66 Movie), Snapchat and Instagram (day66movie).  Taking a few seconds to follow us, and re-tweet / share our posts really does make the difference in getting the word out there!  AND CONTACT US TO GET INVOLVED!  SUPPORT YOUR CLUB!  WE NEED EXTRAS AND CREW MEMBERS!  Thanks allJ

Day 66 – planning the hordes

I wrote my first Day 66 article for Venturer magazine on 1st May 2018.  That was a year and a day ago, at time of writing.

I had no idea we would still be filming this far into 2019!  The hordes on 15 June should mark the end of shooting, except for perhaps a few pick up shots here and there, as may be required.

April 2019 saw the first month of no Day 66 filming since production began.  I did disappear for 12 days to Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, but since returning have been starting to consider how I am going to pull off the feat of bringing together so many extras and crew in June.

Back in early 2018 I revisited an abandoned airfield in Hamble, with Steve Launay and Jon Leech.  Whilst it looked great, it wasn’t far enough away from surrounding buildings to suit the hordes.  This needed to be set in the middle of nowhere.  The New Forest would have been great, but for a few reasons we decided against filming there.

The work colleague’s property we’ve filmed at in Titchfield would have been ideal, however, that location has been exhausted with previous filming.  It would have been obvious we’d already been there.  We needed somewhere fresh.

Around February this year, I visited Queen Elizabeth country park on the South Downs and Royal Victoria country park at Netley, Hampshire.  Both locations were excellent, having parking, toilet facilities and open fields which suited my vision for the hordes.  I decided QE country park was too far away from where the majority of extra volunteers were coming from.  I was denied filming permission over at Netley, which was disappointing given the nature of the project and the real community spirit that is behind it.  But I accepted the decision and moved on.

I mentioned my struggles to my folks and they suggested I contact a friend of theirs, aware he had a plot of land that may be what I was looking for.

I met the landowner at their address near Botley, Hampshire.  It was perfect.  The land consists of two fields, of six and ten acres.  The six acre would suit parking and the ten acre the hordes filming.  There were trees blocking the view of houses behind, another tree line blocking view of his house, and the field was on a gradual slope, meaning nothing could be seen over the brow.  There are one or two houses to one side but nothing clever planning can’t overcome.

I think the land used to be used for strawberry pickers, so he’d built an annex consisting of a toilet for the pickers to use.  I was informed we could have use of that, so along with the parking and middle-of-nowhere feel, all requirements were met.

There was one catch – the field would be growing hay until late May, early June, so we’d either need to film the scene end March, or wait until June.  There was no way in hell I was going to be ready by end March, so mid June suited fine.

I emailed all the hundreds of people who had volunteered approaching a year beforehand, to be zombie extras.  I fully expected the vast majority of those people to have lost interest in the project.  Some considerable time had passed as progress had been slower than anticipated.  The response was fantastic, especially considering the date of filming.  I’ve had around 70-80 extras confirm for the 15 June shoot, along with another 23 or so performing arts students from Southampton, and around 34 make up artists from a London university.

I’m pleased to welcome back the three main make up artists who have helped on the project to date – Molly, Rhianna and Penny.  They should be able to ensure a level of continuity in the make up and I’ve tasked them all with various injury detail that will need applying on the day.  Let’s see just how disgusting we can make things this time!

At the time of writing, things are a little uncertain in terms of crew.  I desperately need members of Beacon to volunteer their help – whether it be to control the crowds of zombies, be a parking attendant, a runner or simply there to watch what promises to be one of the most ambitious filming days in Beacon’s history.  Any Beacon members worried they’ve missed the opportunity to get involved as a zombie extra – fear not!  There’s still time! The more the merrier!  Just get in touch ASAP please whatever you wish to get involved in.  It really will be appreciated.

I’ve started planning shots but haven’t got far – this will be my May task!  Along with an interesting prop idea I’ve had which involves making intestines, but I’ll write more about that another time!

PLEASE REMEMBER – We need as many Beacon members getting involved with the hordes as possible.  Not only Beacon members, but friends and family too, so please please please spread the word!  Contact me via email (find it on the club’s global emails) or via Facebook or any of the below Day 66 social medias.  Thank you for your continued support!

Don’t forget to check out the Day 66 website,, and also follow us on Twitter (@Day66_Movie), Facebook (Day 66 Movie), Snapchat and Instagram (day66movie).  Taking a few seconds to follow us, and re-tweet / share our posts really does make the difference in getting the word out there!  AND CONTACT US TO GET INVOLVED!  SUPPORT YOUR CLUB!  WE NEED EXTRAS AND CREW MEMBERS!  Thanks allJ

The Making of an Amateur zombie film: Part 4

JANUARY 2019 – Day 66 goes to school!

After a nice break for Christmas (yeah right, I was working) the Day 66 crew recommenced production on Sunday 20th January 2019.  We welcomed nine (yes, NINE!) new cast members, who were all keen to get involved.

The Locks Heath working men’s club kindly permitted us use of their entrance hall, which doubled as a school reception area.  I’d arranged for the cleaner to let us in.  Down went the ‘no drinks past this point’ and ‘Pub Watch’ signs…up went the drawings my kids and Erin Goble had drawn, along with other typical school themed signs and notices.  It only took a few minutes to make the place look a lot less like a drinking establishment and more like a school. Sandford Primary to be exact.

Steve Launay took on camera and we were joined by Sam Warren on sound, and Luke Goble as a runner. Everyone else chipped in here and there to get things set.

Jan Seymour took on the role of receptionist, Mrs MacReady (a nod to The Thing – I’d forgotten this was Kurt Russell’s character name when I appeared on Pressure Pad a few years ago and never live that down. It’s particularly embarrassing as its one of my favourite horrors).  Not realising she had any lines, Jan did well to get through the scenes in so few takes!

Sarah Miatt returned as Susan Farley, along with my kids, Ella and Lincoln, as Sarah and Brody Farley respectively.  The scene saw them being collected from school amongst all the chaos of a mysterious illness outbreak…

John and Ann Hampton joined us as paramedics, and Mat Hasker appeared as music teacher, Mr Gilbert.  His piano tie has caused quite the stir on Twitter!  Check it out!

Claire Goble and daughter Erin appeared as extras.  Erin did extremely well considering her young age, playing a sick child.  Well done Erin!

The shoot at the club went very smoothly and we kept on schedule.  Once completed, down went the drawings and all the alcohol related stuff went back up! Many thanks LHWMC!

Around half of us then headed to Whiteley to film a scene in a car park, which doubled for the school’s.  We were met by Ella’s friend, Francesca Baxter, and her parents, Darren and Lucia.  They’d been expecting Francesca to get involved but little did they know they too would be roped into being extras!  Many thanks for being game and taking part!  Day 66 is 96% shot at time of writing.  Getting there people!!!

FEBRUARY 2019 – Day 66 turns up the gore!

Tuesday 5th February 2019 saw the Day 66 crew back in action.  John and Ann Hampton had kindly offered the use of their bedroom for some brief shots of my parents, as zombies, staggering towards the camera.  This shot will be inserted into previously shot footage from inside Steve’s house, where my character, Jack, discovers the place in which he is recuperating is not as unoccupied as he first thought.  There’d also be a scene shot elsewhere involving another couple zombies, so we used the Hampton’s as a base for that makeup too.

I turned up at their house shortly before 10am slightly confused, having not been there for a couple years, not expecting the front door to actually be at the front!  It was lovely stepping back inside where I have fond memories of filming mainly Strawberry Fields and The Parsons, two of Beacon Productions’ biggest shows from the past.  Albeit, it has changed a great deal since that time!

My parents arrived soon after, followed by Molly Savery, who would once again assist with makeup.  I’d asked my parents to be zombies primarily to save money on materials.  There was also the added bonus my dad had twisted his ankle a few days before, which assisted with his zombie-walk!

We were joined by Steve Launay (camera), Luke Goble (runner/ zombie extra yet again!!) and Day 66 twitter follower Tess Lorrigan.  I’d put a shout out to Beacon members on social media requesting an extra but likely due to the daytime shoot I’d had no responses, so Tess bit my hand off (no pun intended) shortly after advertising the opportunity to followers on Twitter. Tess had been following the Day 66 project since the Daily Echo article was published in May last year and was eager to get involved.

As soon as my folks were made-up, we commenced shooting whilst Tess then had her makeup applied.

I was impressed with the excellent zombie work from my parents and Molly did a predictably great job with the makeup.

Once that finished we filmed a brief shot outside of me peeling a bandage off, revealing a wound underneath Molly had prepped for me.  This will be inserted into previously shot footage from last year.

Once that was in the can and Tess had been zombified, myself, Steve, Luke and of course Tess headed to a car park in the Warsash area to shoot another scene.  This would see Jack, having just taken on the hordes (yet to be filmed), arriving back to his car only to find two zombies loitering nearby! 

We’d had recent snow and I’d recced the car park the day before to ensure there was no ice remaining that would ruin continuity.  Upon arrival I was disheartened to see a council van and trailer parked in the exact spot my car needed to be!  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I found an alternative spot and figured a way to trick the angle/viewer.  Then every professional dog walker you can think of started turning up and before we knew it, Steve was scribbling down telephone numbers, impressed with the canine handling he was witnessing!

They were all good as gold and parked where we politely asked them!

Sadly, the council were chain sawing nearby, which meant we were unable to shoot with sound.  But then an awful lot of this production will rely on Foley anyway, so what did a little more matter?!

Tess was first up – she started staggering towards me as I entered the car park.  Once I’d pretended to douse her with lighter fluid, I stormed over to football hooligan zombie Luke (wearing a horrifically disturbing mask I’d purchased off Amazon), punched him to the ground and got in my car.  Seeing Luke trying to get to his feet in my wing mirror, I slammed the car into reverse and ran his head over.

To avoid a possible health and safety breach, I used a paper maché head I’d fashioned instead of Luke’s actual noggin.

Crafting the head had been strangely therapeutic.  Not having done this since I was six, I googled the technique.  I covered a balloon with a total of six layers of paper, newspaper followed by plain paper as a first double layer.  A day later a second double layer and so on.  Once dried, I popped the balloon.  The rest was my own experimentation.  I painted it and cut a half circle into the scalp so that when flattened, there was an obvious escape route for the gore.  I made a brain splatter mixture of fake blood, bread, dried cranberries and jelly. 

When we were ready to film the head being run over, I popped on some gloves and carefully poured the mixture into the head Tess kindly held for me.  Only realising as I went it was starting to leak out the cut in the scalp!  We cleaned up the leak and carefully positioned the head to the rear of my car, with a rock behind it to prevent it rolling to one side. I plugged the neck with bubble wrap so there was only one way the splatter could go.  We placed the scarf and top Luke had been wearing around the head and we were all set to go.

I became extremely nervous.  I’d only prepped one head. This really was a one shot opportunity.  No second chances.  It had  to work.  Realising the monumental moment, we got some behind the scenes footage and I introduced the take.  I got in my car and when Steve confirmed he was ready and recording, I slammed the car into reverse.

SPLAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It worked a treat.

I sat nervously in my car for a few seconds whilst I sussed the reactions as to whether it had been a success. I exited the car and saw the carnage.  Watching the footage back, I couldn’t believe just how well it had gone.  Steve said it was the only disgusting thing he had ever seen.  Tess described it as a “beautiful squirt”! 

I was chuffed to bits. So much so, that the news later that day the pot-hole ridden car park had snapped both my front suspension coils causing £500 worth of damage, didn’t bother me.  Immediately, anyway! Sadly the other shoot planned for February was cancelled due to crew availability – this was rescheduled for 9th March…