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On the Set: Joshua Hoffine's Newest Zombie Photo
Staff: Eric Havens | March 18, 2013 Facebook Share

The argument could be made that still photography is more difficult than standard filmmaking. Consider that in a film a director has 24 or, if you're Peter Jackson, even up to 48 frames per second to capture an emotion, a glance, a moment. In still photography you get one frame. One lonely frame to catch all of it, emotion, intent, story, and context. In that sense, the still photographer has a much more difficult job to complete.

While this is a bit of a simplification of the two mediums, it was the major take away from my recent set visit to the latest project by photographer Joshua Hoffine. Hoffine is probably best known by his incredible horror inspired series of photographs. With his strong sense of staging and propensity to practical props(and blood) over their CGI kin, Hoffine has become a prominent figure on the horror landscape. And what is the subject of his latest piece, you ask? Zombies, lots and lots of zombies.

Those zombies were the first thing to greet me when I arrived on set. A room packed with people, all with different levels of zombie prosthetics and make-up applied to them. Moss being rubbed into hair, blood being squirted onto jackets, all while make-up and prosthetic extraordinaire Anthony Kosar, from television's Face-Off, shouted orders and applied make-up to the patiently waiting actors.

Suffering from a special kind of claustrophobia, I decided to leave this frenetic room of humanity and move over to the other room, the one with the set, the lighting, and Joshua Hoffine. Trying to intrude as little as possible, I entered quietly and observed them work on setting the scene. People were drilling "bullet holes" into the wall, others smashing records, and some were taking part in the obligatory spray-painting of the carpet. Josh and Justin Gardner, his producing partner, then looked to me and said: "You're about Michael's height."

Next thing I know, I am standing in the middle of the set, sawed-off shotgun in hand, staring down a prosthetic zombie head. Come as a journalist, leave as the stand-in for A. Michael Baldwin of Phantasm fame. Not a bad evening. More importantly though, this was indicative of the entire process of the shoot. If you are on set, a job will be found for you. The entire floor was filled with people buzzing from place to place, working on a lighting fixture, picking up unwanted trash, etc. To the untrained eye, it would look and feel like total chaos.

Total chaos, though never leads to work as impressive as Hoffine's. Hoffine and his crew are in complete control of the process, complete control of the focused chaos. There is a lot to do, and it will get frenetic. But at the head of it, Hoffine is leading the chaotic energy to a well thought out and focused vision. I discovered this to be true as I watched him on set, somehow exuding an unearthly calm through the hordes of crew and zombie actors. One could see the calm in his eyes, the understanding of what was happening and where it would lead. Art is chaos, the artist is order, and Hoffine has a real knack for bringing calm and organization to his art.

So what did the piece end up looking like? Compositionally, imagine Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper", if that supper was crashed by a horde of zombies looking for more than some body of Christ. The grandiosity of the final piece and, more so, the process of getting it to that point, was literally jaw-dropping. I left the set with a charge of adrenaline and the nagging feeling I had just witnessed something very special.

To see Joshua Hoffine's work head over to his site: joshuahoffine.com

On the Set: Photography by Anna Perry



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