Spatula!- The Making of Lethal Force

by Alvin Ecarma

(This article was scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Cashiers du Cinemart.)

First off, I'd like to thank The Right Reverend Mike White for giving me the opportunity to ramble on about my big, zero-budget movie "Lethal Force". All he's seen so far is a script, an amusing website and ten minutes of fight scenes which are more a testament to the abilities of Eric Thornett, my Action Director/Director of Photography, than to my own. So I am honored that Mike would give space to a film that could very well be the next "Manos: The Hands of Fate".

Personally, I like to think that in the under $50,000 low-budget sweepstakes, my movie will be more interesting than "Clerks" because it isn't so damn chatty, more action-packed than "El Mariachi" because we have a lot more kung fu and more entertaining than "Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane" because it isn't an absolute piece of shit.

A little background on me: I started out as a backyard Terry Gilliam and made short movies all through junior high and high school. Some notable ones were "The Papal Commandos" which featured uzi-toting, Nam Vet Jesuit priests who spent their days rescuing the Pope and smashing counterfeit Pez dispenser rings. Another was "The Saga of Johnny Athridge" which was about a young lad who must travel to Europe to get some European water and a European drinking glass to drink it with in order to appease his mad physics teacher, not realizing that such items are readily available at any number of domestic retail outlets. Poor dumb clod.

I later ended up at NYU and graduated in the mid 1990's. I then spent the next four years hustling my short films, making friends where I could and degrading myself as an office monkey. While I scrimped and saved, I wrote a couple of crazy-ass scripts that couldn't possibly be made on a shoestring. I finally realized I better write one that could and the result was "Lethal Force".

"Lethal Force" tells the story of a gangster who is blackmailed into betraying his best friend- a deadly killer. Okay, I know what doesn't sound too original and if done straight it wouldn't be. Instead, the movie is a poker-faced camp homage/satire to all the things I love: kung-fu, violent death, and John Woo Homoeroticism. Hopefully my film will become so super successful that vague homosexual fixation between the male leads in action films will become as popular as two-handed gunplay, wire-enhanced martial arts and Chinese action heroes with incomprehensible accents.

The film was cast out of local talent in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area and was strictly advertised as "to be shot guerrilla style…credit and copy of the film- no pay." Unfortunately, the regional acting community turned casting into a bad farce. For some, the concept of "guerrilla filmmaking" meant only two air-conditioned bathroom trailers instead of three. Others considered the movie somewhere between a bestiality loop and a snuff film after they read the script.

Things reached their zenith with one prima donna who claimed to be the "King of Dinner Theater" in Rockville, Maryland. He demanded a salary, a daily travel stipend, a daily costume stipend, absolute control over the use of his image (agreement subject to renegotiation every three years), 3% of the gross and most importantly, an economy-sized jar of Vaseline. When I asked why the Vaseline, he responded "So that my arm is sufficiently lubricated when I fuck you with my fist."

Eventually, the cast was finalized through a painful process of elimination as cast members kept getting bumped up into bigger roles as others dropped out and accused me of being not only a communist, but Episcopalian. Soon we were left with a plucky little troupe that had no problems with minor law-breaking like extortion and the lucrative smut racket.

Finding the key crewmembers was much easier. The aforementioned Eric Thornett was found through an issue of "Shock Cinema" that happened to be reviewing one of my shorts along with his latest Super-8 feature. Incredibly talented and prolific, Eric has zero-budget action down to an art form. Eric run rings around Robert Rodriguez and what he could do to a no-talent hack like JR Bookwater is both shocking and unspeakable.

I found my Art Director/Special Effects Man Danny Fielding through a five-year old back issue of "Monster Make-up Journal" that listed his name and address. Living in a transplanted Irish castle, Danny cavorts with ten "castle ladies" and sports an exotic boar's tooth necklace. For fun, he works for the Smithsonian putting together displays for everything from prehistoric tree frogs to WWI fighter pilots, but spends most of his days on his private animal reserve hunting beefalo while stark naked and armed only with a plastic fork.

And through my pals in the Johns Hopkins Film Society, I met Producer Kent Bye, AKA The Voice of Reason, who became the backbone of the operation. Mild-mannered, unthreatening, and tragically white, Kent held the show together, as the whole production seemed ready to unravel. He had many roles: Mediator, Negotiator but most importantly- The Prince Of Peace. I can't be sure of this, but at times he took on an almost saintly quality as he made the blind see, the lame walk, and helped prepare the craft services. Mother Theresa- you better watch your back, 'cause Kent Bye is tailing your ass.

Shooting began in July 1999 and continued until December. What happened? A lot. There was the time the crew had to infiltrate the illegal kick-boxing circuit to avenge my brother's death. Or the time we were all stranded on a desert island and were hunted like animals by an insane millionaire in a deadly hi-tech of game of cat and mouse.

But that's just the half of it. If you want all the inside dope about the shooting itself, the latest news, who I am and what I'm looking for in an ideal mate, please go to the official "Lethal Force" website at You'll be glad you did.

I think.

(FYI: My ideal mate would be someone who's attractive, intelligent, likes "Star Trek" and most importantly- blonde with gigantic tits. Thank you.)

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(c) 2010 Divergent Thinking Productions