The Production of Road Kill


Road Kill was shot entirely on location in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Palm Desert in August of 1997 under the guidelines of the SAG Limited Release Agreement. Beyond the limits of this ultra low budget contract and the 18-day shooting schedule, the film's script presented many difficulties, as much of it takes place in a car driving from Los angeles to Miami. The Palm Springs area where most of the driving sequences were filmed was experiencing a heat wave during the production and temperatures soared to 120 degrees. Crew and actors alike were exposed to the heat for 16-hour days. Make-up was pouring off of the actors even with sun block their skin tone seemed to change bt the minute. Actor Billy Jayne (Lars), once excited by his wild costumes, consisting of leather pants and velvet shirts, soon regretted approving them. Though the young crew lacked experience, a camaraderie developed amongst them while staying together for a week in the Palm Desert Holiday Inn that seemed to "will" the project to completion.

Some of the bonding happened at the expense of the writer, director Matthew Leutwyler when two actors and a crew member stole the prop car (which due to the film's budget, was also his car) and disappeared into the desert to watch a meteor shower. After realizing his car was missing, he borrowed actor Erik Palladino's (Alex) car and drove around Palm Desert Springs to search for them but returned to the hotel at 3AM empty handed. Later in the shoot, Leutwyler again found himself in trouble when actor Jennifer Rubin (Blue) convinced him to help her remove a sofa from an abandoned building that was used as a set earlier that day. At 2 AM in the morning, Leutwyler was begrudgingly climbing through a window with a flashlight and dragging a sleeper sofa out of the rundown house and into Rubin's truck, but not before the sofa slipped out of his hands and broke his finger. Seeing the splint the following day and hearing the story Palladino remarked "So this is how you direct a film." (The two recently re-teamed for Leutwyler's second film This Space Between Us).

The craziness was not limited to Leutwyler, however, as producer Marcie Lestz-Jastrow found out during the filming of the dramatic "Miami Hit Scene." While Leutwyler and crew were busy shooting the interior shoot-out scene, complete with pyro-techniques and automatic weapons, Lestz-Jastrow was handling the indian Well Police who were called in by neighbors complaining of the sound of "dynamite" going off. When the police decided to close the set down Lestz-Jastrow quickly consulted her husband and producer Richard Jastrow. The two realized that if they could get Leutwyler and the director of photography Steve Gainer to rework the scene so it could be completed in an hour they might be able to pull it off. With the threat of arrest looming, they told the police that there would be no more explosives used and that the set would be closed shortly. After the police left, Lestz-Jastrow quickly ramped up production and resumed the shoot-out. Not surprisingly, the police showed up but by this time the modified scene had been captured on film. Later that evening Lestz-Jastrow wandered into the house (also her parents desert home, another location used as a result of the low budget) for the first time since the explosives began. As she put is "It looked like a war zone." Debris from the explosives, blank shell casings, water, smoke, and broken bottles and glasses (made from candy glass), surrounded her and all she could think of was "Have I lost my mind? I have allowed Matt to blow up my parents house. Thank God they aren't here!!!"

The result is Road Kill. A wild black comedy that is also a tribute to a handful of filmmakers who were determined to finish what they started.

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