Blood Red Shoes, Part 3

Jun 3, 2022 | Filmmakers

Blood Red Shoes
by MerrySmith Filmworks

The Making of Blog, Part Three
Cast of Characters, Continued by Bradford D Smith

First some housekeeping. It was recently brought to my attention that Glow is actually Glo. My lack of intimate knowledge of the English language and its many subtle and bold nuances has once again reared its ugly head. I have to say in reality it all makes a hell of a lot more sense, duh! My sincere apologies to both of them.

Now to continue with our cast of characters. The next two came as a couple, Linda and John. Linda is a pseudonym to protect her then-desired future career as a deep-cover asset in the CIA, NSA, or PTA, I can’t remember which. I’m always getting them mixed up. Great did I just blow it; I can’t be trusted with anything. John was really John. He apparently had no ambitions of joining a covert or overt organization. He was a graduate student in mathematics. Both were acquaintances of Glo’s, through the university. Linda also worked in media services. Linda and John were a married couple in their early thirties at the time of filming.

Somehow Kendall and Glo talked them into acting in our film. Let me clarify, they talked Linda into being in the film. Once it was clear to her there would be some intimate moments between her character and a male character, she recruited John to play the part opposite hers. This removed the squeamishness of having to be in awkward situations with a stranger. We made sure we put her in a ton of awkward situations with her own husband instead.

Neither Linda or John was new to the stage, or the bright lights. John played lead guitar and Linda was the lead singer in a local punk rock band. This detail was important because Linda had clothes/costumes she wore on stage that would work as wardrobe for Star our prostitute protagonist. Let’s quell any debate right here. I’m not suggesting punk rock girls look like street hookers. In fact, it was the punk rock girl that volunteered her wardrobe and it fit our media-influenced idea of what a street hooker might wear. Kendall and I were from the Kojak/Starsky and Hutch era hookers. Take what you will from this.

It’s not as though we held auditions. The truth was, we were both amazed when anyone wanted to be in the movie and these two volunteered. Little did they know we had a large war chest of groveling, begging and bribery that we would surely have deployed but for some reason, people wanted to be involved in our crazy project. The Stoli bribes aside, Kendall’s enthusiasm was a little more than infectious.

As I’ve established, Linda would play Star, our street hooker and main protagonist. John would play opposite Linda. John’s character is the rich husband from the first half who becomes a John and ultimately kills Star the hooker in the second half. John did not play the Rich man in the first half and I will explain why soon.

Our next couple Becky and Andy also came to us through our key recruiter, Glo. She had previously recorded dance classes Becky taught at the UAJ. TJ, Kendall and Glo’s son also knew them. TJ was heavily emersed in the youth music scene in Juneau at that time and had worked with both Andy and Becky on a science fiction audiobook. I would place Becky and Andy in their late thirties or early forties at the time of shooting.

Becky as you may have guessed was a professional dancer and teacher. She was recruited first. and like our other couple she convinced her husband Andy to play opposite her character. Andy ran a successful window washing business and sold tutorials on the internet. He was also a drummer in a local band. Becky was perfect for our rich lady. Her movements lent to the elegance we hoped to portray. We’d lucked out again. It was a story told from the perspective of a pair of shoes owned by a sophisticated woman, who better than a dancer and a sophisticated woman in her own right to play the part.

As with Linda and John, our first-time actors agreed that it would be more comfortable to act with their significant other rather than a stranger. Luckily Andy and John had the same body type so with our view showing mostly feet and using the same rings, watch and cigar, it was easy to pull off. One character would be played by two actors and no one would know.

Becky and Andy would also lend us their home for a shoot and Becky introduced us to her dance class. With almost no persuasion they all readily agreed to be in the movie. Becky and Andy like John and Linda provided most of their own wardrobe, as did the dancers.

Now it was not a prerequisite for landing the role, but it was definitely a plus having your own wardrobe. Our merger budget would have meant a trip to the Salvation Army, so unless you preferred acting in an ill-fitting, itchy, and possible stinky outfit, you better bring your own.

Beggars can’t be chooser so our plot and characters were often “slightly nudged” we’ll call it, to adjust for our lack of funds and professional actors. For example, we originally planned one actor would play both main female parts as well as one male actor to play the one male part. Concessions were usually met with little resistance as I’ve mentioned we had an all-volunteer cast and crew. The script was often changed on the fly to incorporate our guerrilla style of shooting and personal likes or dislikes of the cast.

At the very early stages of the project, a young university student was excited to be in the movie and wanted to play the female roles. She did have acting and dance experience and was eager to have her name in the credits of any movie. We were excited to have an actual actor and dancer play the rich lady and Star.

Although the young lady was legally an adult, her parents insisted on a meeting. I wasn’t present but Kendall and Glo met with them and apparently my script did not fit their concept of what they described as “something their morals would allow her to be associated with.” I’d never even met her and our first actor was out of the project. I wonder was it the toilet stall scene, the strangling in the alley, hmm, guess I’ll never know.

Although not interested in being on camera, one of Kendall’s former work associates expressed his desire to learn about the movie-making process and he promised to help anywhere anytime.

Clarke was a cable technician by trade but a man who never let his vocation define his life. His excitement and curiosity were a constant lift for the rest of the cast and crew. Even when everything was going wrong Clarke would have a huge smile on his face. His consistency of being on time and on set for every shoot quickly made him a valued asset. He also met his future wife and mother of his child while on our set. More on that later.

That wraps up our character introduction. These were the most involved, most of the time, cast and crew. Many more characters were either in the movie or worked on the set over the course of shooting Blood Red Shoes and I will talk about them as the story evolves.

Soon to come Part Four. Our first shoot …

Read Part 1        Read Part 2

Watch Blood Red Shoes here.