So you’re starting a new show: who are you and what have you done? My name is Jenna Payne, and I’m a girl with a dream (and spunk). I’ve written, directed, and produced several shorts on both coasts and my first film FELINE FRENZY won an award at the 2010 Royal Flush Festival. Most recently, I released the post-Apocalyptic thriller shot in blacked out Manhattan called DARKTOWN. We ventured into the powerless city in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and created a pretty incredible improv piece taking advantage of the backdrop.
What is the new show about? ZOMPIRE VIXENS FROM PLUTO! is a madcap, horror/sci fi mash up that combines a lot of elements from different genres that I adore. Foxy zombie/vampire hybrids attack Brooklyn in retaliation for the declassification of Pluto as a planet, rendering the Zompires ineligible for intergalactic aid.
Basically, Zompires are real super monsters that have been ordered to remain on Pluto by the Intergalactic Consortium. The Zompires survive on brainstems, but their food supply has been cut off by the IC. The misfortune of exiling unpopular scientific theories, like climate change, to Pluto combines with the declassification of the former planet to sentence the Zompires to starvation. Well, these broads are ready to fight back.
Meanwhile on Earth, the scientist most responsible for the declassification, Dr. Von Tron, resents the planet as his beloved wife never returned from an IC mission to Pluto years earlier. His brilliant protégé Olivia is one of the first to receive the IC warning about the Zompire attack, and she immediately gathers up a rag tag group of Brooklynites, dragging them away from a sci fi marathon no less, and prepares to do battle for Brooklyn.
The body count is high, and we have an amazing special effects make up artist on board named Michele Mulkey. She runs her own prop shop and can’t wait to be, literally, neck deep in brainstems.
Any favorite characters? My background is in writing, so I really have an affinity for all of my characters. I find it difficult to watch movies or series where I don’t give a damn about any of the characters. That said, I think one of the greatest dynamics in the series is watching the three main Zompires interact with a very bored bartender who they take hostage named Oscar. The culture clash that happens sets up a lot of laughs, and I am so stoked to shoot it.
Tell us about your casting experiences. I wrote a lot of the characters in this series for actors who I have already worked with on one project or another. Richard Brundage (Dr. Von Tron), Tyler Cook (Chase), and Karen Teune (Iris) were in my first short FELINE FRENZY. I found Marion Elaine (Olivia) through a crew member who was working on a feature that I production managed a few years ago. Nylda Mark (Roxy) and Walker Hare (Rob) were in that feature, so quite a few connections were made there.
Sophia Remolde (Elmyra) acted in a project that was the first set I ever stepped foot on, and Emily Bennett (Trixie) and I met after a play. Mark Byrne (Oscar) was in a directing actors workshop that I took with Ela Thier. All of these people are extremely talented and enthusiastic about ZOMPIRE VIXENS in particular and my work in general. It’s great to have a team that believes in what you’re doing and is ready to jump on board to make things happen.
When do you go into production? Tell us about your crew. We are looking at shooting this May and/or June. I would love to shoot the full series, which is 12, five minute episodes, but that remains to be seen pending funding.
Che Broadnax is on board as our Director of Photography. He’s not only a camera geek but also a sci fi geek. I said miniature batships and old school process shots and he said, “I’m down.” Horatio Han, our Production Designer, ratchets up the nerd factor even more. His question was, “The original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or the new one?” I said, “Awesome.”
Angela Harner is our Costume Designer. She’s been creating the looks for the ZVP! teasers and has really brought some great noir elements to our Vixens’ glad rags. Pluto, sadly, is about 60 years behind on transmissions from Earth, so they’re just now watching Ed Wood and Mickey Spillane. I mentioned Michele Mulkey already, but it’s worth saying that we absolutely can’t do this without the illest in make up effects. Michele totally makes things that aren’t for the faint of heart! Drea Cherry Lorraine, aka Miss Coney Island, will be sculpting our Vixens’ victory curls and doing beauty and hair on all of the talent.
On the post-side, Bob DeNatale has edited a few projects for me, including, DARKTOWN, and is a great storyteller in his own right. The mini feature of his that I produced called THE ART OF DREAMING should be hitting festivals this year, and we’re really excited. John Branch will be doing our sound design, and I am pumped to really bring in the Looney Tunes element to the show. Lenny Gonzalez is an incredibly talented composer, and we are going to have him doing all kinds of great stuff, ranging from ‘70s game show theme music to Cramps-inspired surf rock.
Biggest challenge so far? The biggest challenge, of course, is financing. We have a crowdfunding campaign that’s in the final stretch, and we’re still over $20k short.
The cool thing about the Seed & Spark platform is that donors can sponsor tangible items for production, like their favorite characters, props, and even the coffee that keeps the cast and crew running long after we should be in bed. Also, if someone happens to own the perfect pool cue or run a soundstage or bar where we can shoot, then he or she can actually loan that to us. This helps us fund without putting in a penny!
That said, though, the project was originally conceived of as a platform for branded content. Webseries don’t really have a business model that caters to investors, but it’s an incredible opportunity for product placement and advertising. We shot the ZOMPIRES IN THE PARK! teaser to demonstrate the potential that the show has for connecting a brand to a loyal, enthusiastic audience.
I really think that product placement can be a little more respectful to the consumer by acknowledging that you’re trying to sell something. Over here at Zompire headquarters, we can’t wait to build up the money shot to be a huge (and hilariously over the top) part of the show’s humor and an integral part of our social media campaign.
What kind of marketing are you doing for your show? We have a pretty solid base on Facebook and actually have been running this great Zompires March Through History Photoshop series all month. Our videos have gotten nearly 20,000 hits on YouTube and SpidVid, and now we’re selling t-shirts and more on Café Press!
What’s the overall plan for the show? I’m excited to somehow get this baby funded and shot. After that, we plan on releasing online. It is my dream of dreams, though, to four wall the full series, in a sense, and travel the country screening ZOMIRE VIXENS FROM PLUTO! at bars across the nation in the style of ROCKY HORROR. That is totally a costume contest that I can get into!