Action. Comedy. Iconic characters. A one-eyed, mute, Brazilian assassin. A protagonist with severe brain damage beating up children. An antagonist with schizophrenia and homicidal tendencies. Real people being thrown through real glass. Oh, and a Playboy model having sex with a dwarf. All of these things and more can be found in CRIMSON: The Motion Picture.
Let’s back up the tracks a little bit. My name is Ken Cosentino. I am 21-years old. I was 19 when I was brought the idea for CRIMSON. I had no idea what I was in for, but I knew it was going to be big.
While shooting an Evil Dead-type short film (with horrible production quality, I might add), I was standing on the back porch of an old crack-house (which the owner lent to us for production) with my co-star Michael Shimmel. He brought up an idea he had for a short, starring a mentally handicapped superhero named “Captain Crimson”. He wanted me to direct it. I told him sure. Why not? What else was I really doing? One year prior, I had my first feature film play to a packed theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, and I signed a contract with a German film company. But, for the time being, I was just hanging around and doing what comes next. Well, I quickly realized the potential of this idea, and I told Mike to develop it into a serious feature (and drop the “mentally handicapped” part), and I would get it made. What followed was a comedy of errors that somehow formed into something beautiful.
Mike started on the script. He was to finish it by January of 2010. I found a producer and a small crew of trusted individuals, and we got to work. We didn’t have to worry about funding (or so we thought), because another producer came on board with the promise of $10,000, which was to come from an inheritance he was receiving. As of this writing, that inheritance has still not come through. So, after two months of assembling our key people, Mike decided to quit the production. He eventually admitted to me that he hadn’t yet written anything, at all. I threatened him with violence, and he turned out a 150-page script in just one month. I cut it down to 110 pages, and changed the entire second half, and now we had our story.
Concept art for CRIMSON.
So there was our story. We had the crew (of which, I was the youngest person by far). Now we had to audition. We spent three days running auditions, and we chose our cast (which ballooned to over 65 people). But we had one problem… that inheritance wasn’t coming in. Our producer (not the one with the money, the main producer) wasn’t doing his job in finding investors, and was hurting us by butting heads with the production crew. Well, everyone aired their grievances to me, and I wound up firing said producer. So now we had no producer, nearly 100 people, and a project
James Ventry as villain Tommy Emerson.
At the end of pre-production, we hit on the deal of our lives. A legitimate investor wanted to put up $3 million for our movie. We needed to get all of our paper work in place and, through our connection with this person, we were able to get them on board. We hit a snag when this investor caught wind of a movie called Super (2010), with a main character named The Crimson Bolt. Our project then went into turnaround, before being picked up by another big time company.
We headed to NYC for a huge meeting, hoping to secure a $2.4 million budget. We sat in a large office on the 50th floor of the prestigious Helmsley Building in Manhattan. A very attractive secretary kept coming into the office and offering us coffee or water, which we kept declining. Finally, two producers and an investor came in. We all shook hands and got down to business.
Mike Leszczynski as CRIMSON.
Production was awesome. We were finally doing it! Everything was coming to life! Production lasted about five or six months, and was easily the best part of the entire process. We had an amazing cast. These guys were portraying such iconic characters; CRIMSON, The Emerson Gang, Johnny Dragon, Chino, Jake The Snake, Saint Constantine, Special Agent Dominguez… the list goes on! We pulled off some really dangerous stunts. In one scenario, CRIMSON is thrown through a glass cabinet. A real glass cabinet. You see, when you’re making a movie with a budget under $500,000 (which is still considered micro-budget), you have to cut corners, be innovative, and improvise. We didn’t have stunt glass or sugar glass. We had very determined and dedicated (and trusting) actors. I couldn’t let Mike Leszczynski do it. I just couldn’t. He had already dislocated his shoulder during training.
So I did it.
Green screen? No. Green sheet? Yes.
Murphy’s Law comes into play with independent filmmaking. We had a multi-million dollar mansion donated to us to film our grand finale in. The owner of the mansion called one week prior to filming, and had to cancel due to a stand-still with her contractor. We had no choice but to alter the script, which wound up being yet another a blessing in disguise. My barber is an avid supporter of the movie. He loves comic books, and he loves the story. He let us turn the back of his barber shop into a “speakeasy”, a sort of underground casino, and it was there that we shot the biggest scene in the movie.
At this point, we were taking as many precautions as possible (earlier in production, in an abandoned warehouse we were allowed to use, our actor Marco Mendez, who plays Santiago De Jesus Diazinho, was smacked across the face with a baseball bat during filming). This scene involves explosives, real glass blowing up and breaking every which way, 30 actors, a dozen crew members, and the wrecking of tons of furniture. In fact, destroying furniture is the overall theme of the movie. Every piece of furniture that was donated to our production was destroyed on film in one way or another. This is the most destructive low budget movie ever! In this scene, CRIMSON breaks into the speakeasy and gets into it with the entire room. But in a believable way, not in a Bruce Lee “I can kill 50 men single-handedly” way. The biggest fights are between CRIMSON and Santiago, Tommy Emerson, Tiny, and newcomer Saint Constantine, who was played by our Executive Producer, A.J. Verel. A.J. is a professional stunt man and choreographer who has worked on films such as Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek. The whole scene is insanity. It lasts nearly 20 minutes and is the most action packed twenty minutes of the movie. I don’t want to give too much away, but we wrecked the hell out of everything in sight. James was injured slightly by broken glass, which worried me because he is a professional boxer and I didn’t want to end his career prematurely. Especially since he’s quite accomplished, having fought big venues such as Madison Square Garden. That day, I arrived a little before 11 am, and I didn’t leave until 4 am.
Soon, I’ll turn 22.
-- Ken Consetino
WHO SHOT FOZZIE?