By Darek Kowal
Hi, everyone! Darek Kowal, the creator of the new web series ANYTOWN, USA, here to give you an easy, ten (10) step method to spray and spout blood using practical effects. First, let’s all agree, real blood tops digital blood every time and, while using real blood definitely requires more clean up and precision, the finished product is undeniably awesome. Just check out our first episode (near the 4:07 mark) to see what I mean.
Let’s get started!
STEP 1: BUY A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
You can pick one up on Amazon and, trust me, it’s worth the investment. The fire extinguisher is the heart of this bloody body. If it’s not working, neither is your effect.
STEP 2: BUY VINYL TUBING
Either find some online or go to your local hardware store. Measure out about three (3) or so yards. You’ll be running this through the shirt/sleeve of either your murderer or victim, so make sure you have enough length and that the actor is wearing enough clothing to conceal the tubes.
STEP 3: GET YOUR BLOOD
You’ve got 2 choices here: buy blood online (which can get pricey) or make it yourself. I prefer to make my own blood because I can control the color, flavor, and consistency. For the spray effect, you want the blood on the thin side to make sure it can move through the tube.
My Favorite Recipe:
2–21 oz bottles of corn syrup
1 oz red food color
8 oz water
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (this is for taste and a thickener)
Optional** add a teaspoon of any food extract (vanilla, mint, lemon, etc.) to flavor the blood if an actor has to put it in their mouth … a little gesture goes a long way!
STEP 4: FILL THE EXTINGUISHER
Safety Tip Make sure there is no air pressure in the extinguisher! Check the gauge to be sure. Once it’s safe, unscrew the top of the extinguisher and pour in the blood (a gallon should be plenty). Reattach the top and tighten it with a wrench to make sure it won’t leak.
STEP 5: ADD AIR PRESSURE
You’ll need an air compressor for this, and I definitely recommend investing in one. There’s a valve on the opposite side of the gauge that you’ll fill just like a bike tire. Once the needle reaches the green area on the gauge, you’re good to go.
STEP 6: CONNECT THE TUBING TO THE EXTINGUISHER
The goal is to make the connection airtight to avoid leakage. While you’re at the hardware store getting the tubing, you can also pick up hose clamps. Secure the tube to the fire extinguisher, then tightly clamp it using the hose clamps and a screwdriver. Do a few brief practice sprays to make sure it’s working properly and not leaking.
STEP 7: ATTACH THE HOSE TO THE ACTOR
Where you put the hose depends on how you want the effect to work. If you’re doing a penetrating stab, put the tube in the sleeve of the actor doing the stabbing. For a blood spouting effect, run the tube up the victim’s shirt, taping it to their chest and aiming it up and out.
STEP 8: PREPARE YOUR WEAPONS
In my experience, finding prop weapons that look realistic is hard on your wallet. My alternative? Use the real thing! The trick is having multiples and altering them accordingly. To do a penetrating stab, you’ll need two (2) of the weapon. One will be the weapon as is, but with the blade or point dulled. Use this for the stabbing motion. The second weapon will have the blade half or completely removed (using a metal saw) that you can safely press against the victim’s neck to create the penetration illusion.
STEP 9: BE PREPARED TO FOLEY
If you’re doing the stabbing indoors and don’t want to cover the floor with fake blood, you’ll need to put down a tarp. These can be an audio nightmare based on the tarp’s material, so you’ll want to get additional audio of blood squirting, stabbing sounds, painful moaning, etc. to help in post.
For stabbing sounds, I’ve recorded myself stabbing raw meat, cantaloupes, and other dense objects with the actual weapons used for filming.
To make squishy noises that would be heard during the stabbing, jam your finger into a jar of mayonnaise. It’s gross, but it sounds great. Layer this with the stabbing sound for a dense, chilling sound effect.
For the body hitting the floor, I’ve used bags of dirt, potatoes, and even my own body (dropped from a shorter distance to avoid injury).
For any dialogue (painful groans and moans), you’ll want to record those on the day of filming so the room tone matches. If you do wait, have an edited version of the scene the actor can watch and match their ADR to.
If you don’t have the time to foley, freesound.org has a TON of great sound effects you can use. I’ve borrowed gun shots, thunder/lightning, airplane noises, blood squirting sounds, and more.
STEP 10: HAVE ADDITIONAL WARDROBE
There’s no guarantee you’ll get it right on the first try, so make sure your actors have multiples of their costumes so the first take doesn’t have to be the only take.
There you have it! Ten easy steps for a bloody, practical throat slash that will shock and amaze your audience, without breaking your budget.
To see this effect in action, check out www.anytownusaseries.com. Our first ten episodes are available now!
Darek Kowal has been a professional writer & director for over ten years. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, he has directed and produced a feature film, over 10 award-winning shorts, and written spec scripts for Beacon Pictures.