FIRST DAY OF FILMING FOR PHILADELPHIA AFTER MIDNIGHT, STARRING ACADEMY AWARD WINNING ACTRESS DAWN LORREY
May 1st, 2022 – As night falls on Fishtown, the bright lights of Hollywood rise. PHILADELPHIA AFTER MIDNIGHT, the gruesome tale of a detective trying to stop a series of gruesome murders that may be of supernatural origin in and around Philadelphia begins filming tonight. Academy Award winning actress Dawn Lorrey, known for her complete transformation into her characters, steps into her most challenging role yet.
According to director Tod Greening, helming his first studio film after a series of award-winning short films, she’s up for the challenge. “Without Dawn this film couldn’t get made. The effects budget for this type of story is just too high, especially for practical effects as Dawn stipulated we use. But as soon as Dawn signed on, we knew it was going to happen. It’s our first time working together, and already I hope it won’t be the last.”
Ms. Lorrey is playing the killer, a vampire-like creature that eviscerates her prey. A renowned method actor, she is known to bring her own makeup and effects team with her to every shoot, paid for out-of-pocket. Aside from Lon Chaney, who famously created his own makeup effects, no other actor in the history of the medium has done that.
Cate couldn’t believe she was standing on a movie set. When she saw the ad posted on productionassistantjobs.com for PHILADELPHIA AFTER MIDNIGHT, she applied as fast as she could, knowing just how competitive it would be. And now she was here. Unbelievable.
The director, Mr. Greening, approached the crew with a bullhorn at his hip. She stood up straighter, secretly hoping he would notice her. He scanned the thirty or so people waiting for him to speak, smiled, and lifted the bullhorn to his mouth. “First off, I want to thank each and every one of you for crewing our little movie. Give yourselves a round of applause.”
Cate clapped more excitedly than anyone else, stopping as soon as Mr. Greening lifted the bullhorn again.
“Tonight is the most important day of the shoot. Not only do we want to get the movie off on the right foot, but our very first scene is one of the most horrifying in the film. It’s where the monster is revealed, stalking her prey, and then tearing him apart limb from limb. While we only have a few pages to get through, there are a lot of set-ups, so we need to work efficiently and cleanly. Let’s set the right tone from the get-go and make a fucking movie!”
The crew cheered. Cate watched as Mr. Greening turned toward his Director of Photography—a short, stocky man named Jon Burakovsky—to look at the shot list. One day that would be her reviewing a shot list with her DP. She felt it in her bones.
Mr. Greening glanced up from the shot list toward the set, nodded, then scanned the area, looking for something or someone. He unclipped a walkie talkie from his belt. “Eyes on Professor Burke,” he said. Cate knew that Professor Burke was Ms. Lorrey’s character. The rumors were true that Ms. Lorrey had never been referred to by her real name on set. Only the names of her characters.
“In her trailer,” came a staticky voice on the other side.
His eyes fell on Cate. Her heart leapt. He approached her.
“Do you know where Ms. Lorrey’s trailer is?” he asked.
Cate’s brain went completely smooth, every memory and every skill she had ever learned disappearing into the ether. As Mr. Greening waited for a response, Cate felt her moment slipping away. She fought back the abyss of her own overwhelmed awkwardness and nodded.
“Good. Go get her for me. We’re almost ready for her. Give her these new pages to read on her way over.” Mr. Greening handed Cate three loose leaf pages of script.
“Ye—Yes Sir,” Cate stammered. And then she was off, running toward the alley where the trailer sat.
As she approached, a great nervousness overtook her. Almost to the point that she stopped walking. It was more than the fact that she was about to knock on the trailer door of the great Dawn Lorrey—although it was certainly that. There was something off about the scene she found herself walking into. The alley was dark. Darker than anywhere else on set, and that seemed strange for such a high-profile actress. It was also quiet. And still. All qualities that Cate did not associate with a studio film. Where was the entourage? The agent or manager? Where were the make-up and effects people that Ms. Lorrey traveled with?
Cate slapped herself on the forehead with the script pages. They were all inside the trailer with Ms. Lorrey, prepping. Duh.
Cate took a deep breath, marched up to the trailer, and knocked on the door. It swung open immediately, as if someone were waiting just on the other side.
Ms. Lorrey stood above her, bemused. “Hello,” she said.
“Oh… Hi Ms. Lorr—sorry, Professor Burke. They’re… they’re ready for you on s-s-set.”
“I’ll be along in a moment, love,” Ms. Lorrey said. “Please go let them know.” Cate wondered how that could be true. She wasn’t in any makeup. Even a fast, practiced application with pre-made pieces had to take some time.
Before Cate could ask any follow-up questions, the trailer door shut.
“Okay,” Cate said to the door. She started to turn around, then remembered the pages.
She knocked again. This time, there was no immediate answer. There wasn’t even an answer after waiting for a few long minutes. She knocked, harder this time. Still no answer. A deep unease settled into her stomach.
“Professor Burke?” she said. “Is everything alright?”
She reached for her walkie to tell someone that something might be wrong, but then thought better of it. It should be a simple job to ask an actor to come to set. If she couldn’t even manage that, what reason would Mr. Greening have to keep her around?
She knocked again, then reached for the doorhandle. “Professor Burke? I’m coming in if that’s okay…”
The door opened outward, welcoming her into a pitch-black darkness. She stepped inside, completely blind. “Professor Burke? Ms. Lorrey, are you okay? I have new pages for you to read. Please tell me you’re okay.”
There was a rustling sound at the other end of the trailer. Cate’s eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, and she could see a figure writhing on the ground. Assuming no one else was in the trailer, it had to be Ms. Lorrey. It looked like she was having a seizure.
“Oh my God! Ms. Lorrey! I’ll get help!”
Cate spun around and was stopped by a booming voice.
Cate froze, unable to move. She slowly turned her head back toward the writhing Ms. Lorrey. She was no longer writhing. Now she stood, leaning against the trailer’s table, shuffling closer to Cate.
“Close that door,” Ms. Lorrey said, her voice nearly as static as the walkies. Like she had just smoked two-hundred packs of cigarettes in three minutes.
“I—I’d rather not, Ms. Lorrey.”
“Professor Burke!” the woman screamed at Cate. She took another step forward and light from the open door hit her.
Her face was changing. Her eyes bulged from their sockets, the pupils dilating and contracting. Her hair was frizzy and white, as if she had just been struck by lightening. Her body jerked as she shuffled nearer, her bones cracking as they rearranged themselves beneath her skin.
“I said,” Ms. Lorrey rasped, “Close that fucking door.”
Ms. Lorrey was nearly on top of Cate. She was so close that Cate could see her teeth shifting, sharpening in her mouth, until every tooth was flattened and razorlike as a shark’s.
“I… I can’t. I’m sorry, Ms. Lor—I mean Professor Burke. I’m sorry…”
“Me too,” Ms. Lorrey said. She leapt at Cate.
Professor Burke stepped onto set. Mr. Greening threw his hands out. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “You really outdid yourself this time! You even provide your own gore effects? Amazing. I see you got the revised pages. Sorry about that. I know it’s not a great look this early on, but I had some ideas I think you’ll really dig.”
He kept talking, but Dawn was no longer listening. She was too distracted by her upset stomach.