May 8th, 2009

Swedish People

Here is an article by Mirjam Johansson about my upcoming Malmö performance, in Sweden’s People magazine – it’s a few pages in, use the right arrow to get there.

May 7th, 2009

Auditioning the Undead

For the past 2 days we auditioned many zombies, vampires, and victims in small groups, for Undead in the Night at Lilith Performance Studio, Sweden.

Pictured below is a particularly energetic group of young women working with Artistic Director Elin Lundgren, who together hunted mercilessly and attacked their helpless victim (photos Petter Pettersson):


Read more about the auditions at
Sydsvenskan.se
, by Karin Arbsjö. The article is in Swedish only, but includes a slideshow and sound “bite” (pun intended) of the auditions.

May 6th, 2009

Labour of Love

field of the undead video still

Field of the Dead and Undead is a video that I am slaving over working on since last fall. It is all rotoscoping, which at the worst of times is obsessive, slow and labourious, and at the best of times highly meditative. Sometimes something surprising happens, like the layers go missing, creating magic accidental images:

accidental image

April 19th, 2009

Upcoming Performance in Sweden

If you find yourself in Malmö, Sweden in late May, please plan to attend Undead in the Night, a performance with Lilith Performance Studio!

sweden forest

Undead in the Night dares you to enter the forest for a walk in the dark. Be very very quiet, you are not alone.

Zombies and Vampires are radically different yet universally recognizable archetypes of horror film monsters who rarely if ever appear together. They share the evil power to turn victims into monsters, and caught in the unknowable position between “alive” and “dead” they have the power to fascinate and terrorize. Placing them together in this performance, I violate the codes and boundaries of horror genre and create an impossible scenario.

Zombies moan as they stagger stiffly and unconsciously in packs towards their single goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Gruesome and rotting, they are ordinary people reincarnated as characterless and soulless ghouls. Although they are brutish, vile, and almost unstoppable, they are neither resourceful nor clever, and are imminently expendable.

Vampires slink and pose with agility as they move towards the forest’s edge. Aristocratic, powerful, seductive, exotic, elegant, timeless, and mysterious, they have a rich immortal life and feed off human blood. Victims sometimes beg to be “turned” into these exotic and fascinating creatures.

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…If you want to be in the performance, see details here.

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April 8th, 2009

Billy Bob and My Devotion Hit Rock Bottom

…momentarily at least. I can’t make promises in matters of the heart.

I’m tempted to put this in the “Horror” category. It is a sign of true friendship when your friends call to report the love of your life has crossed a line. I have very good friends, but some things I’d rather not know.

jillian mcdonald

I was alerted today not only by CBC Radios’ Q Facebook group but by myriad friends in Canada, the UK, and the US that my special someone starred in a new bad boy role today, and not in a good way. Bad boy is one thing – grumpy is another.

With heavy heart I report Billy Bob Thornton, interviewed on CBC’s Q today, has slightly fallen from my favour. I guess it was only a matter of time – 2009 marks seven years after Mr Thornton first set my heart aflutter.

The interview is here if you care to watch. I can’t bear it myself so I won’t embed the video. Note Mr Thornton “lumps” Canadian audiences into the descriptor “mashed potatos without gravy”, and then walks out on his own performance sans southern charm and with his fellow band members left to fill in the blanks, themselves as lively as zombies – the slow kind. Jian Ghomeshi, our host, doesn’t know what to make of the crew’s uber-melancholia.

The thousands of comments floating around on Facebook, Q’s blog, and Youtube, to name a few, grasp for explanations: drugs, depression, Hollywood arrogance, doomed acting career, “band as celebrity vanity project”, rudeness, etc.

For my part, I believe if BB had called me all those years ago, he might be a happier man today. Just sayin’…

March 27th, 2009

Haunted in Connecticut by way of Winnipeg

haunting

Another movie review (sight unseen):
If you’re wondering what on earth is coming out of that boy’s mouth in the poster for The Haunting in Connecticut, don’t worry, it’s probably chiffon. The film opened tonight and I skipped it, I don’t really like chiffon. Haunting in Connecticut is a true story, like many horror films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Wolf Creek, The Blair Witch Project, and Amityville Horror.

I’ve never seen a ghost, not even at The Headlands in Northern California – a place rife with ghost stories. But I have occasional dreams where someone is standing at the foot of my bed, I always wake up immediately during these dreams, which is haunting. If these ghosts watch me sleep, their motive is a mystery. Talking, laughing, stealing covers, arguing, and kicking are not outside the purview of my nocturnal activities, so maybe the ghosts study my sleep patterns or find me entertaining. Or maybe they followed me from Winnipeg.

Winnipeg physician T.G. Hamilton began conducting séances in his home and recording paranormal sights after the death of his young son in 1918. The University of Manitoba published this video on Youtube, which features the photos. As you can see, the photos are unbelievable. Literally.

That whispery substance emitting from the subjects’ mouths and other orifices is, if not chiffon or muslin, paranormal ectoplasm, secreted by mediums when in a trance state. According to prairieghosts.com, ectoplasm “appears to be milky white in color and smells like ozone.” “Medium Eva C. supposedly produced an ectoplasmic face from her ear during a séance. Many of her “faces” were later revealed to have been cut from a Paris newspaper.”

The Haunting in Connecticut website provides many resources, including Sample Questions for the Dead, should you wish to conduct your own séance. According to their blog, “thoughts may come into your head that seem strange; embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Do not fight them. These are the thoughts of the dead.” I plan to use that excuse regularly.

The strangest fact I learned on the website’s paranormal proximity assistant is that all the world’s haunted houses are in the USA. What about T.G. Hamilton?

Okay I forgot to review the film: it’s late and I digress.

haunted near you

March 27th, 2009

Zombies vs Vampires in Malmo: May 2009

jillian mcdonald zombiejillian mcdonald vampire

MALMö, Sweden
Calling all prospective Zombies and Vampires for a performance deep in a Swedish forest, after nightfall.

Zombies vs Vampires (working title) is an artwork where groups of the two “undead” monster archetypes – local people as actors – enact horror film scenes in the woods at night. Audience members make their way along the path in complete darkness. Interested actors need not be professional but must be comfortable in the woods and the dark, serious, and available for auditions, rehearsals, and the performance (all in May).

In popular film lore Zombies and Vampires have their own iconographies and characterizations. Rotting zombies moan as they stagger slowly, clumsily, and unconsciously. They don’t sneak and they travel in groups. They have only one goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Despite being terrifying, they are neither resourceful nor clever and are imminently expendable.

The elegant vampires slink and pose with agility as they move. Catlike, they are very flexible and thirsty. Perceived to be sexy, beautiful, exotic, and mysterious, they have a rich and immortal life and feed off human blood.

Both archetypes bite their living prey and the two rarely if ever appear together in films.

Auditions begin May 6th and the performance will take place in late May. Contact Jonna Ölund jonna [at] lilithperformancestudio [dot] com for more info!

March 21st, 2009

Love among the Ruins (the Zombies and the Vampires)

forest malmo

Last week I had a planning session with the fabulous Lilith Performance Studio for an upcoming forest performance in Malmö, Sweden. After 3 days and nights amidst the dark blueish pines, swamps, and mossy hills I am having trouble adjusting to New York’s nakedness. Thinking of doing some guerrilla planting, if the spring ever comes: it snowed yesterday, briefly.

On the plane I was unable to resist viewing the almost unwatchable and aforementioned Twilight. No doubt the tiny airplane screen did not do the sweeping Pacific Northwest forest scenes justice, and I confess I am no screaming teenage fan, but for the life of me this story of forbidden love among the vampires screams of cliché.

The “nice” vampires including our perpetually pouting hero happily inhabit, for the moment, a posh glass house sans coffins in rural Washington State, where avoiding full sunlight is unnecessary (since most days are grey and since the sunlight doesn’t kill them anyway), vampire dad dons the guise of preppy local doctor, and everyone is terribly attractive if well beyond the pale…

According to IMDB, “A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire” not the least of which is any hope of being independent. She goes willingly into the role of princess in utter distress and the movie ends with Bella, our damsel, doomed to be protected by her “hero” forever. Only he, and his extended family, can save her from the vampire bad guy and his own monstrous desires. Now that’s progress.

On the plus side, for the first time ever I enjoyed watching baseball played on screen, since vampiric forces make anything more exciting.

sarah jane

I Love Sarah Jane, on the other hand, is an Australian micro film about lust in the time of zombies. As you may know, zombies are at the other side of the class scale. We find Zombie dad in this case tied up in a wrecked suburban backyard, snarling at a skinny shirtless teenage boy who taunts him.

Sarah Jane herself is no ingénue. She emerges from a dark and claustrophobic living room to put the lusting teenage Jimbo – the subject of the film’s title, a mess of bullies, and her eventually (spoiler alert!) chain-sawed dad out of their misery by the end of the film … some with a heavy shovel, sealing her position as no-nonsense heroine and the far from innocent love interest extraordinaire, with a sense of very dark humour.

March 18th, 2009

Zombie Love Blooms Eternal

zombie cake toppers

If you really love someone, why promise to part at death in your wedding vows? You call that commitment – haven’t you seen Zombie Honeymoon?

For all you aspiring zombie brides and grooms, what better way to proclaim your undying love than with a custom grisly-cute wedding cake topper. Sadly, according to the Etsy website where you can find this item by Bella Smiles, “this item sold out on 3.17.2009″. Perfect, since yesterday was St Patrick’s Day and this item IS GREEN. However, there are other styles and with any luck there will be more available soon.

If you prefer a more grim and less cute scene on your love cake, here’s a different zombie wedding cake topper.

~Sent to me by friend, Adie Russell

March 13th, 2009

Zombie School!

This is my kind of course, at Columbia College in Chicago, (correction, I originally wrote Columbia University, thanks Jason!)