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        CURT MARKHAM (writer/producer/director) has written industrial films for Eastman Kodak and was an in-house videographer and usability engineer at Xerox Corporation. He has been part of the TV production crew for the PBS station WXXI-TV, where he served as segment producer for "Homework Hotline" and "Assignment: The World" and was weekend director for the talk show "Sound Bytes". He was a crewmember on the Ken Burns film Not For Ourselves Alone, was an extra in the recent Troma film Poultrygeist, and played Zombie Fred in the RIT-produced feature film Project Nine. He co-starred in the web series "The Whitemeats" and wrote and acted in the horror comedy short "Enter the Dagon", which won first place at Horrorfind Weekend and has screened at NecroComicon and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. His previous low-budget feature, Curse the Darkness, was screened at the Liberty Film Festival in Hollywood.



        J. D. EDMOND (Josh) has lent his comedic leading-man talents to the 2004 short horror spoof "Enter the Dagon", which has won recognition at festivals and conventions including Horrorfind Weekend, NecroComicon, and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. He has gone on to appear in the comedy short "Snuffed - The Musical" and the web series "The Whitemeats". He directed, wrote, and played multiple roles in the short film "The Pitch". He has also performed stand-up comedy with the Nuts and Bolts troupe in Rochester, New York.

        REUBEN JOSEPHE TAPP (Terrance) has performed onstage with several Rochester, New York theater troupes including Blackfriars, Shipping Dock Theatre, and Downstairs Cabaret Theatre. He has appeared in commercials, acted in the films "Blood Lightning" and "The Sharing Stone", and performed voice narration for educational software and for the documentary series "Aging Trees of Knowledge".

        JOHN KARYUS (Bert) has enjoyed a long and notorious career in the B-movie industry, and is particularly notable for being the first and most gruesome casualty in the Troma film Poultrygeist (as the cemetery groundskeeper) and for acting in the films of cult auteur Chris Seaver. His many other credits include The Trek, Mother (in which he played Ed Gein), Kottentail, the Sci-Fi Channel movie 100 Million BC, and Comedy Central's revival of "The Gong Show".

        LIZ MARIANI (Laurel) is a spoken word artist from Buffalo, New York, where she organized the Spoken Word Sundays poetry series and was profiled in Artvoice magazine, a publication which nominated her as Best Local Poet in 2008. She has published a collection of her poems, "imaginary poems for my imaginary girlfriend named anabel", through Sempreverdi Press.

        WENDY FOSTER (Aymee) is a poet, technical writer, ballroom dancer and former ski instructor. She has performed her poetry with the Erotic Nights monthly improv show, put on by the artist advocacy groups CSWA (Culture Stars With Art), and is also part of CSWA's "Sistas Sayin' Something'" female artist support group. This is her first acting role.



Filmmaker Curt Markham began writing the script for Saberfrog in mid-2006. "I wanted to explore the subject of Generation X slackers and rebels reaching early middle age," says Curt. "Throughout the 90s there was so much emphasis on our generation being young, angry and defiant, and this seemed to be quietly forgotten once we hit the 21st century. I thought it was time for a Generation X equivalent of The Big Chill, but with a difference: Whereas the 60s generation was obsessed with politics, X-ers are much more preoccupied with pop culture. Everyone my age I know is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy, and these epic stories seemed to present the only stable moral framework for a lot of messed-up kids. I wanted to address this in the story."

The story follows Josh, a down-and-out slacker who goes on a quest to find and reunite four of his old college friends: Bert, Aymee, Laurel and Terrance. "It was a challenging script," says Curt, "because it required fleshing out all of the characters' backstories - how they separated, what they'd been up to since then, where they were living now - and finding a way to convey all of this while keeping the plot moving. It also became a more humorous script with each draft. It started out as a dark drama, but this is a story about a gang of immature misfits and that lent itself to comedy."

Casting began in early 2008. In the all-important lead role of Josh, Curt cast J.D. Edmond, a friend whom he'd worked with on the short film Enter the Dagon and the low-budget feature Curse the Darkness. "Jesse brought a lot of charisma to a character that could have been unlikable in lesser hands," says Curt. "I'd only seen him do comedy before, but this performance proves he has real chops as a dramatic actor. He created the right mix of humor and pathos for the part."

Another veteran of Markham's previous films was cult B-movie actor John Karyus. "I first met John at RIT film school," says Curt, "where he quickly established himself as a character actor everyone wanted to work with. For Saberfrog, I wrote the part of Bert especially for John, hoping that he would be available to play it. He lives and works in LA now, but he was able to clear his schedule for two weeks to return to the East Coast for the shoot."

Wendy Foster was cast as Aymee. "Wendy expressed interest in working on the film and having an acting role," says Curt. "On a no-budget movie, it's important to fill the lead roles with people you know are enthusiastic. Like Jesse, she brought charm and sweetness to a difficult character." Wendy's connections in Rochester's spoken-word community helped with the casting of supporting roles in the film.

Reuben Josephe Tapp plays Terrance, formerly the craziest member of the gang and now the most stable. "I met Reuben through the Rochester Movie Makers organization," says Curt. "I invited him to a table reading of the script, and he nailed both sides of the character immediately. I'm glad he was able to clear his busy acting schedule to play such a large role in the movie."

Finally, Liz Mariani was cast as Laurel. "I had trouble casting the part," says Curt, "until I sent out a casting announcement in the Buffalo area and Liz responded. She had the right look and attitude for the character, and her deadpan humor brought Laurel to life." Mariani also became an assistant producer on Saberfrog, her knowledge of Buffalo and its arts community allowing her to secure filming locations and cast small roles and extras.

Saberfrog was filmed in Rochester and Buffalo in the summer of 2008, from late June to mid-August. "It's a character-driven, dialogue-driven script," says Curt, "which you would think would be easy to shoot. Of course, it wasn't that simple. There were numerous location changes, there were car scenes, there were flashbacks in which the actors had to look several years younger. In hindsight, it's amazing we pulled it all off."

The complex shooting schedule was made possible by the advent of HDV, an increasingly popular hi-definition prosumer format. "The movie was shot with a Canon HV30," says Curt, "which is very small and very portable. All those car scenes would have been very difficult to do with a bulkier camera. I was able to do most of the shooting myself, holding the camera in one hand and the boom - actually a lightweight monopod - in the other. This guerrilla-style filming not only meant we could shoot fast, it meant that the actors could stay in character and keep their performances going, rather than constantly having to stop for technical reasons."

A year of editing followed, with some pickup shooting in late 2009. Curt: "There were various minor characters who never shared the screen with the main cast, such as voices on a telephone or on the evening news. Casting and filming these roles was a low priority during principal photography, but with the rough cut coming together I had the luxury of knowing what holes I needed to fill."

Two big holes in the film remained, though. "Without giving too much of the story away," says Curt, "there is a sort of dream sequence where fantasy and reality combine for Josh, and animation seemed to be the simplest way of conveying this. When I started showing the rough cut to my filmmaker friends for feedback, I had onscreen captions explaining the missing visuals." Franklin Kielar, a local animator, was present at one of these screenings and volunteered his services. "I made animated films as a student," says Curt, "but I'd already worn several hats on this film and didn't really want to do the animation as well. Fortunately Frank was able to take my rough storyboards and other varied suggestions and transform it all into artwork." John Centrone, a local composer, also contributed to the film. "John's music complements the film well. No-budget films are often sparse in their soundtracks, but John delivered an orchestral sound that really captured Josh's otherworldly attitude to life."

Saberfrog was a creatively satisfying project, says Curt: "This was a journey I had to go on. I'd taken a break from filmmaking for various reasons, but this was a story I had to tell, and I'm very happy with how it's turned out."


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