"It laid dormant for over a hundred years, hidden beneath the shadow of the greatest monster the world has ever known. In the early 1800's, the author of Frankenstein uttered prophecies and desperate warnings about the end of the world that will happen now, in the 21st century. For the first time ever, one of the earliest works of modern science-fiction has risen at the time when Mary Shelly's message needs to be heard. What she had to say about the human race, the global pandemic, the struggle between Islam and the West that brings about the end of the world turns out to be more of a prophecy today than science-fiction."
InvolvementIn 2007, I was hit with an interesting proposition by my friend Robert Linden. He was pursuing an acting career and stumbled across a local production making a film in Tucson. The film was post-apocalyptic, and required a huge number of extras playing diseased citizens. It sounded like fun, so I joined him on a day of shooting.
We showed up to a Tucson quarry to film, and I was introduced to Gabi Andres and James Arnett. They handed me some army fatigues and I laid in dirt, playing a dead soldier on my very first day of filming. Robert had the luxury of sitting in a "Hummer" as a dead soldier.
We had many other shooting days throughout that year, just as fun as the first. On some days I was put into make-up, something I had never experienced before, and made to "shoot at" the lead character, Lionel Verney (Santiago Craig), with assault rifles and shotguns. We filmed in locales I NEVER would've been to otherwise... and it's not everyday you get to "shoot up" downtown Tucson. I doubt something of this magnitude will ever happen again for a very long time to come, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
One thing really caught me off guard though... I never imagined that the prior wrestling training I had was going to be put to the test in this film.
Fights... Camera... ACTION!!!!Not only was Robert Linden an extra, but he was also the head stunt coordinator. The movie had an amazing gun-fight, but the fight scene had to be just as epic.
Robert was already the stunt-double for Santiago, and did an amazingly convincing job at it. It was just a coincidence that I and the main villain, Victor the Butcher (Julio Garcia) shared somewhat of the same height and build, so, playing the stunt-double for Victor the Butcher was a perfect fit! Robert and I choreographed the entire fight scene in his living room and we also set up the perfect camera angles to capture the close-ups of the actors performing holds and reacting to each blow. We walked into the Tucson Presidio for filming with NOBODY knowing what we had planned.
The day actually began at 5AM. Tucson's Downtown Courtyard was sealed off to visitors, and an ambulance was put in place for any emergency. With 40+ extras, havoc was going to break loose, and the chaos had to be organized and kept to a minimum as possible... the job of Robert and I to maintain. We also had a stunt crew from "Old Tucson" work with us, who were known for their high falls from buildings. They brought out a trampoline for me to bounce off of and a crash-pad for me to land into while jumping over the side of the bridge. On my first attempt, I took a running start, a la WWE's "Sin Cara," and literally Swan-tonned over the bridge to the amazement of the stuntmen.
They didn't know it wasn't the first time I've ever leapt from high areas.
I would later jump over the bridge for what seemed like well over 15 times to get the right camera shots and lift offs. It was definitely NOT an easy day for me. I can't speak for Robert, but I'm sure he'd agree as well.
The day was action filled and the sun was going down. We had spent the WHOLE DAY shooting film and talking to news stations, yet, the fight scene still hadn't been taped! Nobody, not even our director, knew what we were going to do. Robert and I took center stage dressed as the lead actors and the filming was on!
We turned up the juice one last time, and played out the first sets of the fight as if we were wrestling again. Just to make the scene that more dangerous, I wielded an actual butcher's knife making each swipe at Robert a life-threatening situation if we didn't perform perfectly (b). There was NO room for error, and no mats to fall on for a majority of the fight.
Earlier that day, I had "gotten shot" and performed a moonsault (back-flip landing on your stomach) off of a table and onto the ground. Now it was time to show a move that would shake the socks off of everyone...
I "Doctor-bombed" Robert on film!
I looked over at James Arnett and his eyes were huge like he had seen an alien!
"Wow..." was all he could say.
We helped Robert off the mat he landed on, checked him out...
And then we fought AGAIN!!
Soon, it was all over, and we could breathe once more.
That same night, I took one of the longest showers I'd ever taken, and had literally beat myself up to the point where I couldn't even walk.
I later crawled into bed smelling of sweet, sweet Icy-Hot... laying on my aching back, sitting motionless in the dark replaying the day's events, soon allowing the menthol to seep deeply into my mind carrying me off to dreamland.
Movie Premiere"The Last Man" debuted at Tucson's Fox Theatre on Saturday, February 23rd 2008.
My girlfriend and I sat with Robert and his wife in the upper level of the theatre. It was the first time we ever seen ourselves or our names on a movie screen.
The genius of James Arnett's storytelling was evident in taking a lost book from Mary Shelley and revamping it into a modern day story. The original book was not very well known, and the story-pace is quite slow and centers primarily on Lionel's experiences coping with a world being torn apart by a pandemic, and the loss of personal relations as a result of it. If translated straight from the book to the movie, the film might've been kinda boring. In this case, the adaptation of the story is brought into the 21st Century, which Mary Shelley could not have imagined... so now we have a story being told with the same thread, but through a modern perspective.
The new story is very well told, and the characters are multi-dimensional. Lionel's character, for example, evolves from an un-disciplined, self-centered individual into a one-man war machine with a mission to save humanity. Santiago Craig played this role very well... a character you grow into. The man you see in the beginning is NOT the same man you see at the end.
By the time the end comes, you're taken on a heart-pounding experience (Thanks in part to Robert A. Wolf's brilliant musical score), which throws Lionel in a warzone to fend off scores of the diseased by himself! The gun-fight is probably one of the longest and most intense battles you'll ever witness on film... and then, at long last, the battle pits Lionel against the main enemy, Victor The Butcher.
It was the final showdown, and Robert and I sat on the edge of our seats as our performance played out on the screen...
And then it was over. The theater started to applaud!
Both Robert and I looked at each other and shook hands on a job well done.
The movie was a success, and just as good as anything you see on The Syfy Network today. Everyone enjoyed the rest of the night downtown, and it was one great event to write home about. Eventually the film even sold to a foreign market!
Years later, I found out that "The Last Man" actually made it into a Japanese bargain bin for DVDs, alongside Hollywood classics that garnered awards. That's kind of an honor when you think about it... Somebody in Japan actually watched me Powerbomb my friend on film.
Hey, you don't experience that one everyday!
(a) Poster (By: J. Arnett)
(b) Stunt Double - "Victor The Butcher"
(c) Me and Robert Linden (Stunts)
(d) Alternate Poster (By: J. Arnett)
(e) Channel 9 KGUN News Coverage
(f) Channel 13 KOLD News Coverage
(g) Interview w/ James Arnett
(h) Interview w/ Justin Mashouf
I also created some of the 3D architecture seen within the