Hi! I’m Katie Alender, author of Disney-Hyperion’s Bad Girls Don’t Die series. Making my first book trailer was so much fun that we knew we had to create one for From Bad to Cursed, too. We shot on Saturday, June 11—just three days before the book release!
We were super excited to have Zendaya Coleman from Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up!” as the star of the trailer. I wrote the script and my husband, the director, storyboarded in advance… all that was left was to shoot it!
Up early to eat, shower, and get presentable–not to mention load the car: wardrobe, audio playback equipment, and the prop jewelry.
And we’re off! The location is about 22 miles away, and we have an 8 o’clock call time. We drop the dog at daycare and head for the freeway!
Right on time! We’re shooting at the home of family friends. They’re a little overwhelmed by the scope of the crew–fourteen people and a van-full of equipment! First thing, we lay big sheets of cardboard over the floors and attach cool yellow covers to protect the hallway corners.
Zendaya arrives! She’s trying to finish reading “Animal Farm” for school. (I’m happy to report that she keeps setting it down and trying to sneak in a few pages of “Bad Girls Don’t Die.”)
We’ve moved all the furniture around in the bedroom and brought in the rented vanity. It takes a while to get everything set up–the lights, the dolly (the wheeled cart that moves the camera smoothly over the floor), and the little details (my favorite: the evil squirrel prop!). A copy of “Bad Girls Don’t Die” sits on a side table, but it’s not visible in the finished trailer.
Zendaya goes to hair and makeup. The makeup artist starts her off looking natural. Zendaya (who, luckily, knows a ton about makeup) will add more as we shoot, with touch-ups between shots.
Out of several wardrobe options, the dress everyone prefers is the pink-flowered sundress. And it fits Zendaya like it was made for her!
I realize that the jewelry is still at home–22 miles away. So we borrow a pair of pearl earrings from owner of the house.
Almost ready to roll! We’re also recording behind-the-scenes footage, and it turns out that I have a bad reflex when I see the camera–I look straight at it and wave. It becomes a bit of a joke. I can’t help myself! I just like waving!
Our first shot is “in the can!” It’s a wide shot where the camera slowly approaches Zendaya from behind. There are a couple of hiccups–we keep seeing the cameraman in the shot. Also, the chandelier jiggles like mad if anyone moves! But it’s so pretty that it’s worth the trouble.
We recorded Zendaya’s lines a few days earlier and are playing them back so she can react. My job is to keep the audio cued and press “play.”
The second shot is the one where the black goo shows up on her back. We shoot it without any goo—we’ll add that later. I find it funny that the line is about someone always watching you, and we keep having to cut because we can see the crew in the shot.
Moving right along! Zendaya is an amazing actress. I’m totally in awe. Every once in a while, I have an idea about something she might do, so I whisper it to my husband. I went to film school–in fact, that’s where he and I met–but I haven’t been on set as a director for many years. I’m happy to let someone who does this for a living make most of the decisions!
Lunch! Ridiculously good chocolate cookies.
Time to start our special effects shot! At the end of the trailer, there’s an effect where the reflection in the mirror interacts with Zendaya in the foreground.
Luckily, Anne, whose bedroom we’re shooting in, is a great stunt double! We put her in an exact copy of Zendaya’s dress and a wig. Then we shoot the scene with Zendaya in the chair and Anne popping through the mirror, and again with their positions reversed. In the finished shot, you see Anne’s wig and shoulder, Zendaya popping through the far mirror, and in the near mirror, the reflection of Anne’s arm coming out in front of Zendaya’s reflection. Simple, right?
Time for Zendaya’s interview! Just when we get her set in the backyard… somebody starts a lawnmower! We quickly “reset” in the dining room. I actually like this setup better. Zendaya is a total pro in her interview. You can tell how passionate she is about acting and her fans.
Done shooting! Zendaya heads home, and the rest of us clean up, load the van, and put the furniture back. We’re done by about 7:30—way better than the first trailer shoot–which was lasted until 9 pm on Valentine’s Day. (Let’s just say a couple of our crew didn’t find happy Valentines at home.)
At home, we transfer the footage and choose our favorite takes. Sunday is devoted to editing and adding special effects. The black goo on Zendaya’s back and the boyfriend’s picture (a stock photo) was recorded in advance by dropping red dye into water, so we adjust the color and add it digitally.
Then it’s off to a friend who mixes the audio so everything sounds perfectly spooky.
An incredible whirlwind–but so much fun! (And I need a NAP!)
From Bad to Cursed is in stores now!