On the Set: Sensory Perception

Tommy Dreamer crawling out of a post-apocalyptic tent.

Wild Bill’s Nostalgia in Middletown was full of excitement Monday night as about 50 extras waited to be called for their big scene. After getting made up by a team of artists to look like they barely survived the Apocalypse, grabbing a sandwich or a drink from the craft services, Connecticut residents from ages 2 to 65 waited to hear “Action!” Just before filming started, executive producer David Gere gave a pep talk to the barn full of extras, prepping them for a long night of shooting while also thanking them for coming down.

Feature film Sensory Perception was shooting a few final scenes to wrap up their production of what has been a very Connecticut-based film.

Writer/director Alessandro Signore, a Waterbury native, says, “Ninety-nine pecent of the movie was filmed in Connecticut.” It wasn’t just Middletown that got all the glory, with other scenes filmed in Waterbury and Cheshire. (The other 1% was filmed at a dojo in MA, so hooray for New England filmmaking!) Gere is from Cromwell and runs nightclub Shadow Room in Middletown. Assistant Director, and friend of The CuT, Danny LeGare is from Stafford Springs. Most of the actors and crew of about 30 are from Connecticut. Who says you have to be in New York or LA to make a movie?

Sensory Perception is a film that follows the life of a drug addict who has terrifying visions of the future, including an apocalyptic vision. Unfortunately, he has some trouble figuring out what’s real. Signore described his film as Mad Max meets Book of Eli. It’s a science fiction thriller that has a very trippy feel.

Someone call Ken Kesey.

Can we talk about Wild Bill’s Nostalgia shop for a moment? That place is truly bizarre, in a great way. If you’ve ever driven by it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It resembles a carnival haunted house on acid. Behind the building is what is aptly referred to as a “trailer graveyard.” The scene being filmed Monday night featured the extras wailing in a misfit camp facing the end of their existence. What better place to film that kind of jolly scene than in among abandoned trailers and busted out cars.

Let’s talk stars. Actor Corbin Bernsen is one of the main actors in the film and Signore described him as “great to work with, just like any other actor.” Pro wrestler/actor Diamond Dallas Page (Devil’s Rejects) is also in the movie. (Neither Bernsen nor Page were on set that day.) The big name on set was pro wrestler Tommy Dreamer, best known for his stints in ECW and WWE. Dreamer, real name Thomas Laughlin, was solicited for the film through Twitter and his personal website.

Technology; it’s not just for hooking up!

The very personable and friendly Dreamer was happy to be on set and said his role of “crazy cult-like leader was perfect because during my time in ECW, I played a crazy cult-like leader.” Those of us who watched ECW know that is 100% accurate. Although Dreamer stays very busy on the independent wrestling scene, he says he really likes acting. It has to beat getting whacked with a kendo stick (which Dreamer said he had in his car if I wanted to find out how bad they hurt…I passed on that one).

A bunch of post-apocalyptic extras on the set of Sensory Perception.

The climactic final scene took about ten takes, using a jib (a camera attached to crane used for that “swooping” feel). When the crew felt like they finally got it, there was a big round of applause. It was then on to the next shot featuring a whole new group of dingy looking extras. It was a long night of shooting, from about 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., but this looks like it will be one cool movie. One of the trailers released for Sensory Perception looks pretty darn cool. The crew was super friendly and Signore described them as “like a family.” We can’t wait to see the premiere! Gere and Signore are hoping this movie is finished by this fall and The CuT can’t wait for this to hit the screen!