An all-local production will hit Illinois in late February when the new Netflix series, “Clash of the Vampires,” begins filming the ten-episode, hour-long action fantasy from producer Eric DeShazer of DeShazer Films and co-writer, Michael D. Ballard.
DeShazer Films has partnered with Downstate Heroic Age Studios for series production in their full-service facilities in Decatur and surrounding areas. Other locations will be in Chicago and Indiana.
Based on a short screenplay by Ballard and developed by DeShazer, the story follows two warring factions of vampires led by Veronica (Sharon Lee) and James (Sriram Parthasarathy) in a cast of 80.
As they lay waste to the city with their century-old war, the citizens are caught in between, until a detective and a lonely vampire, named Odius (Harold Dennis), step in to stop them.
“At its heart is betrayal and what it leads to,” says DeShazer. “You have Veronica, who is a manipulator and then her ‘boy toy” James, knowing her end-game, decides to put a stop to her making him the antagonist.”
What sets this apart from other vampire-oriented series, like “The Vampire Diaries” and “True Blood,” is the action, according to DeShazer. “This is a much grittier. We incorporate a lot of martial arts and special effects, keeping it more in line with shows like ‘Arrow’ and ‘Daredevil.’ We’re staying away from the metrosexual vampires.”
DeShazer also plans to open the world to other supernatural creatures and monsters such as werewolves and humans spliced with animal DNA.
Harold Dennis, who is no stranger to playing supernatural characters, describes Odius as a day walker, “and I find his quiet loneliness interesting. He is suffering from the loss of his daughter and wants nothing more than to right this wrong.” He adds that the fight training was “grueling and satisfying.”
The production, costing $200,000 an episode, faces potential grueling weather conditions in February in Chicago and Indiana. But DeShazer, who plans to direct the pilot over 20 to 30 shoot days, looks forward to the challenge.
“I think it will help the storyline as we can see that weather doesn’t affect the vampires like it does humans and other creatures,” he says.
Periscope Post & Audio, located in Cinespace, will handle postproduction.
Like many other indie productions, DeShazer found distribution before production through their associate and executive producer, Ashley North, CEO of New York-based J Dash Productions. J Dash was instrumental in securing distribution through The Orchard of LA. The Orchard specializes in distribution over several outlets including Hulu, iTunes and Netflix.
After the pilot is submitted, it will tested to determine its future.
Other executive producers on the project are Creative Cypher founder Troy Pryor, who also serves on the SAG AFTRA board of directors and Emerald Johnson, partner in LA-based Aero Entertainment.
While DeShazer was attending the American Film Market in Santa Monica in early November, he also garnered interest from several investors, but decided to finance the pilot himself. It’s a big step from when he started as a graphic artist for Jim Finkel’s Vaultload production company.
LA-based Colin Costello, who still calls Chicago, “home,” is a working screenwriter whose credits include the Emmy-nominated “Moochie Kalala Detective’s Club” and the 2016 family film, “Traveling Without Moving.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.