Communication second-year and makeup designer Mark Park approaches one of the lead actors with a cup of gooey fake blood and a toothbrush. Park dips the toothbrush into the dark red fluid and flicks a splatter of it across the actor’s face and chest.

Communication third-year Julz Feit stands behind Park, overseeing his work. “Some more on his forehead right there,” Feit directs. Park adds more blood, then glances back at Feit. “More?” Park asks. “More,” Feit replies.

It’s the first day of shooting for Kori + Carter vs. The School, a short film written and directed by Feit. This “zom-com” shows the journey of two female friends battling a zombie outbreak to make it to an epidemiology final, while revealing an underlying romance between them.

Feit (center) sets up the shot for a zombie attack scene. (Photo by Eloise Apple)

Feit spent the last few months in pre-production after winning a $1,500 grant last Winter Quarter from Studio 22, a Northwestern student production company. Premiering at Ryan Auditorium on June 3, Kori + Carter vs. The School reflects Feit’s mission as a filmmaker to carve out a space for queer people in genres like horror and science fiction.

As Park continues to bloody the actors, the tidy Tech basement around him transforms into a bustling Hollywood set on this Friday morning in April. Room LR72 is overrun with special effects makeup, film equipment and Einstein bagels for the cast and crew. The chaos spills into the hallway with crates full of lighting, camera, sound and costume supplies lining the lockers.

But the mayhem is organized. The actors get into costume and makeup in the room while the crew diligently sets up the first shot in the hallway. Feit flows between both spaces, dishing out instructions and high fives.

Venti Starbucks in hand, Feit buzzes around the set in tan overalls, a floral tank top, white and blue Nike’s, a backwards New York Mets baseball cap, blue dinosaur earrings, a stack of six necklaces and chunky rings on every finger. The pre-production phase has been stressful, Feit says, but filming is their favorite part. Today, Feit describes themself as a “beacon of happiness.”

The first scene is simple: The three main characters run down the hallway. But the lighting, sound and camera teams still need to coordinate to get the shot just right. Feit checks each element, pausing to thank the crew members, and then explains the scene to the actors.

Finally, it’s quiet on set, and Feit gives the call: “Action!” They get the shot in two takes.

Feit has wanted to be a writer/ director since they were in middle school. They spent those early years studying interviews, speeches and books by directors before getting behind the camera themself.

“I remember reading a quote, ‘If you want to be a director, go direct. Film something right now,’” Feit says.

So in sixth grade, Feit made a black- and-white silent film about a breakup on their iPhone and edited it with iMovie.

“Bad and short is better than absolutely nothing,” Feit says, laughing as they recall their first project.

The summer after their freshman year of high school, Feit watched Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, a 1969 western about a pair of outlaws directed by George Roy Hill. After watching that movie, Feit’s aspirations truly solidified.

“For some reason, something clicked in my brain,” Feit says. “I was like, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”

Feit’s current focus is in “heavy genre” films like horror, science fiction and westerns. Last summer, the University gave Feit a research grant to write and direct their first short film, The RIQI Exchange, a sci-fi about an interspecies exchange program with an agender alien and a gender-questioning teen.

Feit says they are gender open and push for queer representation in everything they write. Their main focus is stories of trans joy.

“We don’t need every story to be about coming out. That’s not what all of our life is. We have a lot of other experiences,” Feit says. “I would say that’s a main point where I find inspiration: telling stories for my community that haven’t been told yet.”

Feit says their favorite directors — including Martin McDonagh, Bong Joon- ho and Wes Anderson — blend genres and shift tones masterfully. Their films go from funny to tragic in a snap.

Feit attributes their love for these dark twists to their upbringing. In Feit’s Irish Catholic family of seven, dark humor is the norm. “Everyone’s self-deprecating. Everyone has so many problems and issues and just makes fun of that,” Feit says. “It’s gonna turn out OK as long as you can laugh at it.”

Feit says their taste is also influenced by their twin sister Cara (or “Corn,” as Feit calls her as a running joke). Feit loves writing and watching movies about duos, like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. In their favorite films, the plot is centered on an underlying conflict between a pair, and an extraordinary situation forces them to address it.

"I want to do this for the rest of my life."

Julz Feit, Communication third-year

This motif found its way into Kori + Carter vs. The School. Carter (played by Communication fourth-year Claire Scavone) has feelings for Kori (played by Communication fourth-year Devony Hof), and the zombie outbreak forces Carter to address her emotions.

Park (right) bloodies Weinberg fourth-year Santiago De La Torre (left). (Photo by Eloise Apple)

“Seize the day,” Feit says. “You never know what’s gonna happen. Hopefully zombies won’t happen, but it could. So you should tell that person you like them.”

Back on set, Feit works with the crew to set up a shot in a janitor’s closet. The two leads, Scavone and Hof, sit on the floor in the hall, chatting and laughing while they wait. Communication third-year Jason Sekili walks over to join them. He plays the other main character, a courageous janitor who helps Kori and Carter make it through the minefield of zombies (picture Bruce Willis in Die Hard).

Park (right) bloodies Weinberg fourth-year Santiago De La Torre (left). (Photo by Eloise Apple)

Down in room LR72, makeup designer Park takes a quick break from putting special effects makeup on the zombies to eat lunch — burritos from Ovo Frito. Detailed gashes and bites bring Feit’s gory vision to life, but it takes forever to get the latex wounds and fake blood just right. Park has been at it since 8:30 a.m., and he’ll be working nonstop with the makeup team to have the zombies ready for their scene at 3 p.m.

Even with the long day of shooting, the cast and crew are all smiles. Feit says these lengthy production weekends bond everyone, and the set is full of friends. “It feels like a work family,” Feit says. In the past three years, Feit has worked on a wide range of student films. Even when they don’t have an official job in the crew, Feit will come to set to help anyway to make things go faster and hang out with their friends.

Communication third-year Tristan Braumeister says Feit was a huge help for a film he produced called Stay in Touch. Braumeister is always a little reluctant to take on production jobs because of the stress and labor. But when Feit asked him to produce Kori + Carter vs. The School at a party, he said yes.

“Julz is really dependable,” Braumeister says. “I knew that if I worked with Julz, they would be a good director.”

Braumeister is producing this film with Communication third-year Maddie Morse, and Feit says the pair was instrumental in the pre-production process. Even a short film requires months of planning and organizing before the filming weekend.

Once all the roles for the cast and crew are staffed, vision presentations set the general film structure for everyone. Then all the little details need to be worked out. On a given day, that could entail creating a shot list, scheduling the shooting weekend, handling risk management, acquiring food donations, designing costumes or coordinating fight scenes.

“I absolutely hate pre-production,” Feit admits. Thankfully, Feit says their crew has been fantastic about staying on top of things.

And their work seems to have paid off. The first day of shooting ran ahead of schedule, wrapping three hours early. The cast and crew enjoy dinner from Dave’s Italian Kitchen and begin cleaning up. The makeup team pulls the latex wounds off the zombies and wipes off the blood. The lighting, sound and camera crews move their equipment outside to their truck parked in the alley between Sargent and Tech.

Feit finally emerges from the Tech basement to load the truck. It’s an unusually warm weekend for April. Sunkissed students walk through the alley, seemingly on their way back from the beach.

There’s two more days of filming this weekend, so the only sun Feit will get is from loading the U-Haul. But as Feit hoists equipment into the truck, laughing and smiling with the crew, it’s clear there is nowhere they would rather be.





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