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Filmmakers get creative to work during the pandemic

With large productions suspended, they are turning homes into sets and finding new ways to keep cast and crew six feet apart.
Tammy and Daniel Roebuck used their vast assortment of monster collectibles as the backdrop for a television pilot they filmed while quarantined at home.
Tammy and Daniel Roebuck used their vast assortment of monster collectibles as the backdrop for a television pilot they filmed while quarantined at home. [ Courtesy of Tammy Roebuck ]
Published May 6, 2020

TAMPA — Daniel and Tammy Roebuck were supposed to be on large production sets this month.

Daniel Roebuck, whose nearly 250 acting credits include portraying Jay Leno in the 1996 movie The Late Shift, should be on one in Budapest.

Producer Tammy Roebuck should be working locally on a television series with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Michael Clayton.

Instead, the couple — who split time between Tampa and Los Angeles — are self-isolating in their California home. Their productions, like all major ones throughout the country, are suspended to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Still, Daniel Roebuck said, “We have to be creative. This is the gift that God gave us — to create.”

So, from the safety of their home, they are shooting a television pilot about the history of the horror genre.

Other local filmmakers are also creating from quarantine, turning homes into sets, writing scripts around what is accessible, and finding ways to keep actors safely distanced.

Related: All local filming halted. Michael Keaton and Hallmark had spring dates.

Director Derrick Perez of Tampa was scheduled to roll cameras for his new feature film The Scarecrow, about two brothers who run away from their abusive home and have a run-in with a living scarecrow.

But it was impossible to do so while social distancing.

“I am a creative person,” Perez said. “I have to do something. Otherwise my camera would just be collecting dust.”

Related: Friend and budding filmmaker helps tell story of Bloomingdale attack survivor

So, Perez recruited his brother Henry Fernandez as cast and crew. He grabbed a creepy doll purchased a while back at an antique store with the idea of one day making a movie with it, and yelled, “Action.”

Using only rooms in their house, they shot a short movie called Uncanny to be entered into film festivals next year.

Derrick Perez purchased this creepy doll from an antique shop with the intent to one day make a movie about it. He did so from quarantine.
Derrick Perez purchased this creepy doll from an antique shop with the intent to one day make a movie about it. He did so from quarantine. [ Courtesy of Derrick Perez ]

Known as “King of the B Movies,” Tampa’s Joel Wynkoop is among the area’s busiest filmmakers with nearly 170 acting credits.

So, of course the actor, producer and director had a project suspended due to the pandemic.

“It was called Beast Mode,” Wynkoop said. “It is about a man who believes his hallucinations are real and a hypnotist who uses that to get him to kill her husband."

It featured by Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the B-movie production studio Troma Entertainment, best known for creating The Toxic Avenger franchise.

But Beast Mode could not be told with social distancing measures.

Bored in self-isolation, Wynkoop found inspiration in an alien mask lying around his home.

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He then wrote the The Craiglon Incident, about three goofballs who save the world from an alien invasion.

To film safely, the main characters have solo missions to complete. Wynkoop stars as one goof ball and sent scenes to the other two leads to be filmed on their own.

As for those few scenes when actors need to converse in person?

“The aliens are spreading a virus, so everyone must stay six feet away,” Wynkoop said, and the actors are filmed from a distance.

Empty streets and shuttered businesses add to the story.

“We’re using the apocalyptic look to our advantage,” Wynkoop said.

Joel Wynkoop shows off the alien masked that inspired his newest B-movie, "The Craiglon Incident."
Joel Wynkoop shows off the alien masked that inspired his newest B-movie, "The Craiglon Incident." [ Courtesy of Joel Wynkoop ]

Daniel Roebuck is using his vast assortment of monster collectibles, too.

Among his treasures are life-sized sized Planet of the Apes wax figures, a Herman Munster doll signed by actor Fred Gwynne and an original poster from 1933 Invisible Man movie.

“I do a lot of horror movies,” said Roebuck, who has recently been in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Halloween 2, Devil’s Rejects, and Lords of Salem. “And I am such a fan of them that we have been developing an idea for a show."

Roebuck and his wife were contacted by a producer friend who asked if they could create content at home.

So they turned a room in their home into a Masterpiece Theater-like studio, used Roebuck’s collectibles as a backdrop and filmed a pilot episode about The Invisible Man.

Titled The Horror-ble World of Daniel Roebuck and hosted by the actor, each episode provides a history of the monster genre.

It is now being shopped as a series.

“God’s timing is perfect," Tammy Roebuck said. "Whatever this is all meant to do, it will be.”

Meantime, she said, “We’ll stay creative.”

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