Tuesday, June 23, 2009

National Publicity

We have made it: A successful red carpet premiere (pictures posted below) and now a feature article about "School of the Dead" in Revenant Magazine, Moviemaker Magazine and, last but not least, the NY Post! You can read these wonderful write ups at:

They Write of the Living Dead
-UFT New York Teacher

Ghouls Out For Summer
- NY Post

-Moviemaker Magazine

-Revenant Magazine 6/25/09 Posting

What a wonderful end to the year. I'll keep you posted (no pun intended) on the production and screening of our "final cut" of the film this fall.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Previews and Premieres

This Friday, June 19th, we will be holding our red carpet premiere of School of the Dead. All students who were involved in the creation of the film are invited to attend with their parents. The carpet will be open with sparkling cider and small snacks at 5:15 until 5:45. Our screening of the film will begin at 6 sharp. Please wear formal attire to the event.

Along with the rough cut, we will be screening two short previews. One of the School of the Dead and one of "Addiction", which may or may not be created next year. For those of you who are addicted to preview watching, here is a small taste of what's to come:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Movie Maker Magazine and School of the Dead

We have received our first attentions from the press this week with the publication of "Queens Students Transform into School of the Dead" on Moviemaker Magazine's website! The article includes a wonderful write up on the appeal of the film process for 8th graders as well as a lengthy Question and Answer Section with Mr. D., Mr. McLaughlin and myself. Click on the link below and enjoy:

School of the Dead

Friday, May 22, 2009


I would like to congratulate Justine M., Jennifer C., Oscar H., Sonia A., Cynthia M., and Eliseo R for their acceptance into the NY Middle School Film Festival program this summer!!! This is an extraordinary opportunity, which will allow all six of you to connect further with the film experience. Mr. D and I are both so proud of and excited for all of you. And, of course, we can't wait to see the films you produce for next Fall!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Weekend of Filming!!!

Over the weekend, I had the chance to come to school and apply zombie makeup on my fellow students. At first, I wasn't sure what to do because I had only done zombie makeup a couple of times before. I was afraid that I would mess up the ac
tors' faces and make the movie look bad. After doing zombie makeup on a couple of students, I gained confidence. I began to develop a vision for what look I wanted. I wanted to create a look that looked clammy with a lot of greenish yellow hues. With the help of others, I was able to accomplish my goal. The directions that professional makeup artist Mykel Renner left were extremely helpful.
Before I began applying makeup, I applied moisturize
r to my victim's face. (Sometimes I couldn't do this because there wasn't enough time.) Then I applied a foundation all over their faces giving them a paler face. I highlighted their cheekbones with colors from the death wheel like green, yellow and blue. For the eyes, I applied red eyeliner and smudged and used purple on their eye sockets. I also used some of the red eyeliner on the person's inner lips. I added the finishing touch by putting fake scabs and scratch marks on people.
At the end of the day, I learned that a
pplying makeup gets easier with practice. I thought it was fun applying zombie makeup on people. My favorite part of the day was when I applied zombie makeup on Mr.Beloff because how often do you get a chance to make a teacher ugly?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our First Weekend of Filming: Some Student Perspectives

So this weekend we started filming "School of the Dead." I was nervous like crazy, but those feelings soon died (no pun intended) the second I walked into the TV studio in my school. People were already laughing and people were putting on zombie make-up. I was welcome with all smiles and people were so excited to get started. As I waited for a scene I'm in to come up, I watched as my very own classmates became gruesome dead zombies before my very eyes.
When my first scene came up (a scene in which I have a confrontation with my co-star Haider), I had some butterflies, but the directors (who were also my teachers) comforted me and showed me step by step what I had to do. Once we got started everything felt so natural with few mistakes.
Throughout the whole day, everyone worked hard and we had some good pizza. The day went smoothly and so did the very next day. It was a great experience and I can't wait till next weekend to continue. - Selena P.

On Saturday I came to the filming and it was really interesting. My classmate Stephanie M. was doing the make-up for the zombies and it came out really well. I participated in one of the scenes where the teacher was eaten by four different zombies (Tiffany, Sherab, Brittany, and Melissa). I had a lot of fun shooting the scenes. Mr. McLaughlin did a really good job and so did all the teachers and students who participated. I can't wait until next week to be able to come to the next filming. - Karina M.

Working on the movie is an eye-opening experience for me. I found out about skills I had in me that I didn't even know about. In the movie, I did a scene where I get grabbed by a zombie and I didn't even know how to act, I just looked natural.
Doing the make-up was fun as well because I got to experiment with different looks. Even doing costume design was fun because all you have to do is splat blood on a white t-shirt. The movie changed my mind on what I can actually do on the set. -Cynthia M.

I really enjoyed helping with the make-up because it was a new experience to me. I did a lot of people's makeup. Also I was a zombie in one of the scenes! It was fun but also frustrating because you have to do a part a lot of times. But overall it was exciting! I can't wait to see the movie now! -Sherab T.

In the movie "School of the Dead" I was playing a zombie. It was very fun. The makeup was awesome but the blood was sticky. I didn't know how to act like a zombie so I decided to just drag my legs around. -Jessica P.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Production Stills

No previews or clips yet, but here are some production stills taken from the last few days to keep your appetite for blood satiated!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Storyboarder's Vision of a Film by Damaris O.

A story board shows an example of what the camera's point of view should be: what angles to see and which will look good. When I storyboard, I imagine myself in the position of the actor and where he or she has to be and what the best way to see it is. Then I draw them down.

For example in Clip 4.9 of our script, you can see the way the picture is taken and how it focuses on their faces. And you pay attention to the arrow which shows that the camera has to go forward or to keep going in a direction. The fun part is how the actors will act--laughing. Storyboarding can be fun. Just let your mind flow and think how television cartoon artists do when they have to make an episode.

So Storyboarding helps us show which direction, view, and lighting should be there and how it will form. I can't wait for the zombie movie! Groan!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"My Vision on Costuming" by Cynthia M.

In the movie, "School of the Dead," I am the head costume designer. I'm also going to the High School of Fashion Industries, so this is a good headstart for me to practice what I'll be doing in high school.
Since "School of the Dead" is a zombie movie, my vision on the movie is basically a gruesome look, but not bloodthirsty. There will be white shirts, so basically there will be a few paint splats (blood) and lots of rips here and there. The characters will look like they've grown out of their clothes (although they haven't) because it shows they are not the same person anymore.
In the movie, zombies get pushed, pulled, or whatever kind of action that is used against them by the characters in their attempt to avoid getting bitten. The costumes for the zombies will have to look like they've been tugged at. On the other hand, the characters and their costumes will be normal clothes (our uniform), but if any of them turn into a zombie they will have a zombie costume on. As for zombie pants there will be slight rips, making it look torn and it will have to look dirty to highlight the idea that the zombies have been hiding or they're on the look-out.
The whole idea of a zombie movie is to use props, costumes, and make-up to enhance the storyline, in order to show the audience how realistic it could be. The point of a zombie film is to make sure that the costumes look messy not neat to show how much zombies don't care about how they look. There are things that must be realistic too, and my vision is of zombies around the whole school engulfing it with it's sickness.

Before They Were Stars...

Listen to Haider and Sebastian discuss their fear of zombies among other things with Mr. Dictenberg before they knew they had landed the two male roles of the film.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meet the Stars of "School of the Dead"

Below you will find clips of our two stars: Selena P and Haider S. I could say many many things about these two students, but, for now, I will let them speak for themselves.

Selena's Character Motivation

Haider's Character Motivation

Selena's Method-Acting

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jordan Mahome Comes to I. S. 145!

Today, professional actor Jordan Mahome came to I. S. 145. He was very kind and talked about his journey from performing in plays in his school to starring in movies like "Max Keeble's Big Move" and various shows and commercials like "NYPD Blue". He discussed with the 8th grade how hard it is to find an agent and how acting takes dedication and practice. One of my favorite things Jordan Mahome said was that to him, acting wasn't lying, it was telling someone else's truth. Jordan Mahome also explained how shooting scenes are filmed.
After fourth period, students who were going to star in the movie, or were a part of the audition process, were chosen to spend fifth and sixth period in Mr.McLaughlin's TV Studio and participated in various activities (see the Zip Zap Zoom video below).
Everyone enjoyed and learned a lot from Jordan Mahome's visit, and a couple of people even got autographs (including me!). I really enjoyed Mr. Mahome's visit and look forward to seeing more of him!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Survive a Zombie Attack Podcast

Find out how to get around those brain-eaters and get to safety in these podcasts.

(Click on "posts" to see other episodes.
Click on "get podcast" to add to your iTunes or mp3 players.)

Subscribe Free
Add to my Page

Friday, February 6, 2009


Today, the Zombie-grams fundraising was a success! First, we met a famous make-up artist named Mykel Renner. Then, by watching carefully and seeing his process, Sherab, Brandon, Marlen and I (Debbie), got some zombie make-up done (teacher dude will post pictures.) An ample amount of teachers came by to see and boy! were they scared! Soon enough, we went into the Cafeteria to get some orders.

At first, no one had ordered anything, but as we got around with our zombie make-up and giving out information, everyone came pouring in, excitedly!
This day was pretty exciting and scary! All of us with zombie make-up were embarrassed and shy. Finally, we just said, "Oh well! This'll be fun!" We went out there and showed our best zombified faces and it was loads of fun!
Zombie-grams will still be sold over the next week so make sure you get a Zombie-gram and send it to someone you love, like or just friends!

Mykel Renner (a professional make-up artist) came to demonstrate to us about how to apply zombie make-up.
Afterwards, we watched Stephani C. get the beauty make-up done and Mr.D become
zombified.Some people started to apply make-up on Debbie, Marlen, Brandon and me (eek!) After they finished applying makeup on us (it took them like a million years!) we walked around scaring people...then went into the cafeteria. That was sooo embarrassing...but fun also though! Then us "Zombies" went around telling them about our valentine/Zombie grams. After our academy, law came and we mainly did the same thing as before. At the end we washed off our faces and went to our ninth period class...This was a total fun and exciting experience and now I cant wait till we start to give out the lollipops and cards!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some Zombie Events

It seems that infection is spreading all over the country. Check out this news flash from Texas-


And for all you bibliophiles (book-lovers), check out this remake of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:


Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Zombified" a rap lyric by William D. & Steven M.

Ahhh! Just woke up out from the grave
Got another chance at life
Promise I will behave
Look up at the sky so
Misty and dark
Forgetting how I ended up
inside this park
Licking my lips--got a
taste for brains
Wait, I just noticed there's
No blood in my veins
Screamin', yellin', scared out of my mind
Wait, I just noticed
I'm Zombified.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


As everyone knows by now, we're trying to save and earn money for our zombie movie. Alot of us sat down and thought about ways to earn money. We brewed up an ample amount of ideas like raffle cards, mini carnivals in the school gymnasm, etc. The only idea that really stuck was the Candygrams idea.
For Valentines day, we decided it was a great idea to have kids send Candygrams to a special someone. To make this Candygram idea fit in with the rest of the zombie films, we came up with the idea of calling them Zombie-grams. Zombie-grams consist of paying about 50 cents or so in order to send a poem along with something sweet to make someone feel loved that Valentines day.
A person can either write something short, sweet and simple, then send it off or they can use some of the poems that we have already made.
Here are some of the poems that are still in the making:

My heart lurches, stops, stumbles and shambles to catch your eye.
My heart groans, moans and calls to meet your ear.
My heart dies, rises, is undead with love for you.

(Great stuff, huh?)

You're the life of the dead,
you wont believe this is true.
I wish you were mine,
too bad I already died.

You take the life out of the dead,
with just one stare.
You don't know how I exist,
I would say, but I wouldnt dare.
I want you to be mine.
For you, I shall wait,
until you come into my world
and see who I am.
I bet you will scream,
for you'll find what I am.
--Jessica P
(Aw. . .)

I give you my heart, for my heart beats for you. . .
but in return, do not let our love decay.
--Eliseo R.

(Short, but sweet.)

I am in love with my boo.
If zombies come after me,
I'll sacrifice myself for you!
--James S.

(Straight to the point and simply adorable!)

These poems will come equipt with something sweet. They can buy more candy to send to the same person, too. I know that would make MY Valentines Day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

School of the Dead: The First Period Bell Pt. 1

The bell rang and students scattered and flowed into various open doors along the basement’s T-shaped hallway. Above the door at the center at the top of the T was a large sign that read: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This was Jane Mori’s not so subtle joke that in-house was a version of Dante’s entrance to the Inferno. Hell or not, Jane Mori stood at the door to the in-house room with a clip-board in her hands. As each sullen student passed by she nodded to them and checked off a name on the list. She felt it was important to greet them at the door each morning, to provide a routine, to assert, as she was sure Mr. Hahn would suggest, that they existed together in some sort of relationship, as cursory or fictitious as it may be. Maybe they registered her respect somewhere deep down. Who knows? It was hard to tell when they gave you vacant stares each morning. It usually took a few periods of the day to really see a difference in their attitudes. In any case, the routine just felt right for her.

From her vantage point Jane could see all angles of attack. Repeat-offenders, or what Mori called “residents,” would enter from the left staircase from the entrance of the school. Students in Mr. Dimtry’s math class would head down from the right and new-admits to her special circle of hell would come from straight ahead. Mori watched as Eric Bloom (a part-time resident) walked from the lower end of the hall straight toward her. She wrote his name down, put a check next to his name and nodded to him by the time he walked through the door to find his seat.

The halls had cleared and she could hear Mr. Dimitry starting up his class: “Is this all of you? Why is only half the class here?” he said, only sounding partially annoyed. She was about to turn in to begin shuffling paperwork when something to the left caught her eye. Near the end of the hall she could see a student standing looking at a locker a couple inches in front of him. His head was hunched forward as if he was about to nod off while standing. She could empathize. She watched for a few seconds expecting him to remember his combination and open his locker or move back to class. He did none of the above. She opened her mouth to speak, but for some reason couldn’t find the words. She felt strange. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see a student try to eek out a few extra minutes away from class, especially in the beginning of the day, but his hunched figure didn’t seem to fit that scenario. She now noticed that his arms hung slack and loose at his sides like the hair that covered his profile. She thought she could see him moving his mouth as if he were whispering something menacingly to the wall. She opened her mouth a second time. This time the words were there: “Find your way to class.”

He didn’t move. From this distance she couldn’t tell who he was or what he was looking at and she certainly couldn’t hear what he was saying. Why was he just standing there? Why did she care so much? She jumped back as a hand suddenly slapped the doorframe in front of her.

“Miss M., are you coming in? I’ve been tryin’ to talk to you for the last minute” She hadn’t noticed that she had instinctively moved halfway into the classroom. Eric was standing at her side. His left eye-brow lifted a question to her. She looked back down the hall and noticed that the student had left. She turned back to Eric, lifted both eye-brows in response to his quizzical look and motioned to the empty seat two rows back. He sighed realizing she was going to continue ignoring his question and went to his seat for the rest of the day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

School of the Dead: Before the First Bell

Jane Mori lurched forward unsteadily, her left arm raised and reaching into the air. Her mouth opened into a gigantic yawning cavern; her pink-grey tongue pulled into the back of her open mouth, and her yellowed teeth showed long enough for her to bite off the yawn just as violently as it began.

She continued to shuffle forward and finally grasped the coffee pot that had been brewing in the teacher’s lounge kitchen. It’s been harder to wake up each morning, she thought. She poured the coffee into a Styrofoam cup and then added too much sugar as she turned to face the habitual morning groan from her colleagues.

“They don’t listen. Let me tell you!” yelped Mrs. Drescher as her eyes lit up with eagerness. To Jane she seemed either immune to the early morning demands of the school day, or, more likely, had already drank large amounts of coffee before coming in. Jane stirred her coffee and listened as if she hadn’t already heard this or something like it before. “Eric was sitting in my 4th period class yesterday and after I had already spent Fif-TEEN minutes explaining and re-explaining directions on what they had to do, a simple worksheet on conjugating verbs, he turns to me with this blank look, nothing on his face, and says, ‘What do we have to do?’ ‘What do we have to do?’ Can you believe that? They don’t listen. They simply don’t listen” She brought her hands up and down for emphasis.

Mr. Hahn’s head bobbed up and down in perfect unison with her arm gestures. “It’s like they shut off their brains. Half of my kids act the same way. But some of them just feel compelled to get up and walk around the room. No regard for rules. They walk and hit others on the head just to get a reaction, and then shamble back to their seats. It’s like they need to remind people they’re still there, you know. ‘Hey, I hit you in the head…I whacked you, therefore I am.’”

It was way too early for Hahn’s quasi-philosophical meanderings about the existential crises of young adolescent minds. As Hahn began a new train of thought—“I believe that graffiti is a symbol of…”—Jane headed for the door out to sit in the in-house suspension room for all the wonderful existentialist students teachers like Hahn and Drescher sent her way.

* * * *

“Here. Over here. No, no, that’s whack. Do it like this.” Jayson was moving his arm in quick steady swings almost as if he didn’t care how it looked, but as usual his tags were better than mine. I rubbed my eyes thinking about how his texts woke me up this morning: wE GoTTa gEt in 2 SkOOL earLy! Meet me at 7:10 in the park. I was surprised by the quick switch to “traditional” texting. It wasn’t like him; it wasn’t “G” enough for him. He must be serious, I thought. When it turned out he just wanted to give me an art lesson in the girls bathroom before school started it was too late to argue with him. He wouldn’t have listened anyway. Tagging had become his recent obsession in a long list of obsessions.

He stepped back and admired his artistry: Eat me Dresher!! in bold red sharpie with black shadows. “It’s glorious!” he said. I held back from pointing out the missing comma, and his misspelling of Drescher (who had taught us for the last two years). He’d probably say it was on purpose anyway, that she didn’t deserve her name to be spelled right.

He handed back the markers and I went over to an empty pink wall—a new canvas. I wondered whether I should tag my name, an attack on Mr. Hahn or a note to one of the girls who would come in to check her hair in the mirror. Maybe I should write it backwards so she could see it flipped correctly in the mirror, that’d be hot!

“What are you just standing and staring at, Fatty?!” I jumped at the sound of Melanie’s voice. I guess I wasn’t going to write the message backwards or forwards.

“Oh God, here we go. “The Critic” is going to jump in…check out my masterpiece M.”

Melanie paced in a slow semi-circle around the side of the stall one foot crossing over the other in order to get in between the two of us. I noticed that she was wearing her hair differently and she had a new chain around her neck. I wondered where she got it. “You spelled Drescher wrong dumbass.”

“So?” He sucked his teeth. “She don’t deserve it to be spelled right” I held my hand over my mouth as much to hide my grin as to keep from pointing out the comma they had both missed.

“You two are stupid. What are you doing in the girl’s bathroom anyway? Can’t you trash up your own bathroom, or have you already used up all the wall-space in there??”

“You should know, since you were in there trying to suck face with Jonathan yesterday, right Eric?” My hand fell from my mouth, but I should have left it to keep my face straight. Instead I stood gaping at them both like a fool. Jayson had his “hey-look-at-me grin on” as Melanie turned and looked straight into my eyes. Was she trying to see how I’d react, to see if I cared? Just as quickly she turned back to Jayson and started clawing at him. Jayson dodged to his left and ran past me back out the door to the hallway. He ended up pulling Melanie with him as she tried to get a solid grip on his backpack. I added a comma before chasing after them.

“Stop running, I said!... They never listen.” Mrs. Drescher was standing in the middle of the hall with Mr. Hahn. They were circled around a puddle of spilled coffee as if they were protecting it from the students. She looked after Jayson and Melanie as they pushed through the growing crowd of students coming in before the first bell. They were safe for now. Mr. Hahn, however, was looking past me at the door to the girl’s bathroom.

“Don’t move Mr. Bloom” he said now staring at me, then at the markers in my hands, then back into my eyes. I stared back without blinking. “See, Mrs. Drescher? I told you. They use graffiti to—”

“Alright Eric, you know where to go.” I played dumb and just looked at her. “Eric, do I really have to spell it out for you? (Yes, I thought still staring blankly at her). Go to the dean’s office” Mr. Hahn and Mrs. Drescher looked at each other and shook their heads. I stepped into the coffee they were protecting and headed to the Dean.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

School of the Dead: A call (or groan) to write zombie stories.

Every zombie film, novel, story and even haiku has an overarching metaphor or symbol connected to the zombie masses. Some are symbols of pure anger or revenge, others represent our consumer culture (Dawn of the Dead occurs in a mall). After speaking with students about their vision of a zombie infestation, I've come to the conclusion that we are all, already zombies--special thanks to Oscar C. for his excellent impromtu renderings of the zombie moan during class periods.

If we are all already zombies, it needs to be asked "what kind of zombie are we?" In the teacherly spirit, I'd like to ask students to answer that question as I work to figure it out myself. I am currently writing a short story titled "School of the Dead." I hope that my fellow zombified friends will also join me by writing their own stories of what a zombie school would look like. At the very least it will be entertaining. Who knows, maybe we'll find some answers...the first installment of my story should be published soon.