DEAD ZONE (2014)

Short Film & Screenplay

"The Only Way Out is to Play by Your Rules"


An Ex-Con is forced by the Warden to play in the prison's blood games in which inmates must kill each other and the only way to victory is to not get hit.


The prisoner is offered the opportunity to get out by participating in the prisons blood games. The warden threatens him by mentioning his wife the prisoner has no choice by to join the games. Aviglio, a guard punches the prisoner in the face and knocks out his teeth. The warden makes it very clear that the other way for him to actually get out is to not get hit.


The prisoner is offered the opportunity to get out by participating in the prisons blood games. The warden threatens him by mentioning his wife the prisoner has no choice by to join the games. Aviglio, a guard punches the prisoner in the face and knocks out his teeth. The warden makes it very clear that the other way for him to actually get out is to not get hit. They leave him there without any way to fight back.

The prisoner gets a moment alone to clean up. He shaves his head, cleans his mouth and takes a shower. He then suits up for the games.

He gets thrown into the fields. He quickly notices that the guards are shooting the other prisoners. He follows the trails and hides in a tunnel. He takes out a picture of his beautiful wife and has a flashback of the good times. He regroups and exits the tunnel. He runs through the maze. He comes to corner and Aviglio appears. Aviglio puts down his weapon and closes his fists.

Prisoner closes his fist. Both run at each other. Avigilo picks up the Prisoner and throws him to the ground. As Avigilo gets up he PUNCHES the Prisoner in the face, twice.

The Prisoner blocks the third and punches him in the neck. He gets up and waits for Avigilo to get up. Prisoner elbows him in the stomach then uppercuts up with a right. He then swings a left to his face. Prisoner then throws a left and a right that Avigilo catches. Avigilo hits him in the face with his left hand. Prisoner falls back and Avigilo kicks him.

Avigilo throws blows. Prisoner blocks them. Prisoner then head butts him. Prisoner throws rights and lefts to Avigilo’s face. The Warden watches from the control room in anger. Avigilo blocks the fourth hit, pushes his hand then kicks him in the chest. Prisoner falls far back to the ground. Avigilo runs over to him, picks him up and slams him into a wall.

Prisoner blocks and swings a left. Avigilo snaps a right to his throat, swings and misses. Prisoner ducks then both lock arms. Prisoner throws lefts to Avigilo’s chest and then knees him. Prisoner grabs his head, throws it back, jumps up in the air and punches downwards onto Avigilo’s skull.

Avigilo falls backwards. Avigilo swings a hard right. Prisoner ducks and throws a hard right to his stomach and then a high left to his face. He pushes Avigilo back and punches with his right.

Avigilo wobbles. The Prisoner then kicks him down. He looks around and everyone lays on the ground. He holds his side and walks off as the sunsets.

The Prisoner is set free as promised. His Wife waits for him to exit the prison with excitement. They embrace. The sun shines.

"behind the story

This is my action throwback to the 80s, a great time for action movies. We had the biggest names doing some amazing fun movies. I was born in this decade so to me, it's totally nostalgic. Even the bad ones are great mainly because I was too young to understand the story and just focused on how much fun they were.

Back in 2014, I worked for the Miami Heat. This was probably the best time to work for an NBA team. And let me tell you this was the best team to have worked for. We had the "big three", Wade, Bosh, and of course LeBron James. However, the Heat would lose in the NBA finals to the Spurs, thus letting the employees start our summer vacation.    

So what am I supposed to do with my free two-week vacation? I know, make a movie. But how? With who? With what story? I recently did two short films and I thought maybe I can be the lead actor I had two cameras why not. I know I had no time to write a story so why not pay homage to my favorite action movies from the 80s; really a Stallone movie. The question I asked myself is what do I have access to? I have my apartment, my brother-in-law's, my car, my storage unit, and of course the beach. For my first scene, I wanted to shave my head and take a shower at my brother-in-law's place. He gave me the keys and let me set up. My co-worker, Omar lent me a prison uniform. I was wearing braces on my teeth at the time and had a stash of fake blood and vampire teeth so I used them in the scene when I was looking in the mirror. I used make-up to give myself a black and blue eye and inserted the vampire teeth in the spaces where I had teeth pulled to get the braces. I set up two handheld cameras and did the scene. I examined myself, pissed out the vampire's teeth, took off the prison uniform, and shaved my head. The next shot was to take a shower.    

So now I had to work backward. I scheduled myself, my brother-in-law, and Omar to meet me at my storage unit, which looked like a prison. I put an ad out on Craigslist for an actor to play a guard. We all met on a Sunday which I thought would be empty, but it was not. We were on the 4th floor but my concern was coming into the building with a small crew, one person my ex-coworker Sean, and my wife Alma. No one said anything. Omar showed up in a suit and tie and played the Warden. The craigslist actor showed up in full SWAT attire. And my brother-in-law Ruben showed up in all black with a ring of keys. I, of course, was in the prison uniform with a black skull cap because I did the scene after it. I got there early to clear out the unit and move it around the corner in the hallway.    

We used the facilities dolly to get our dolly shot, which was Ruben walking and opening up my storage unit. Sean got some great angles when the door opened up of my sitting inside. Omar and the actor did the scene. I only prepared dialogue for Omar. I told him to do it in a Spanish accent and I wanted to add subtitles. I wanted the actor to punch me in the face, making my teeth loose when I spit them out in the next scene. I used the fake blood to splatter it on the wall. For this scene, I used music from the film, "Blood In Blood Out".    

So now I have two scenes. The idea for the film was the prison had "Blood Games" if you don't get hit you can leave the prison. Now the main character knows the main goal was not to get hit but he would have to fight the actor from craigslist. And during the fight, he would pull out a picture of his wife who he misses. I went and found the perfect location to film a paintball facility. The manager was letting me have the space for free but the catch was it had to be during the workweek. I knew this was never going to work. I put it on the back burner and set up the next scene.    

So now our free two weeks were up from the Heat. I went back to work, but there was really nothing to do. We did have concerts to design for but we do those when they're announced. My boss went on vacation. But myself and Omar set up a day where we would stay late and use the control room as the main headquarters for the Warden. There were a ton of TVs mounted on the wall together that we used for the games for different camera angles. We put up a green screen image so I can replace the screens with the shots from the paintball shoot whenever that was going to happen. I had Omar walk into the scene, look at the monitors, pick up a microphone, and signal the actor from Craiglist to come and get me.    

I edited these scenes, added popular music, and created the intro and credits. Now I needed to shoot the flashback scene with myself and my "wife" using music from "Dirty Dancing", the fight scene, and the end where my character would leave prison and run into his wife's arms with the song "Meet Me Halfway" by Kenny Loggins.    

Unfortunately, the project stopped for a while. I started the ambitious project of doing two short films starting mid-2014 from stories I had written and later connected and then connected four other stories to create a series. These took precedence. They had a crew attached, actors, and free locations. In the middle of filming, I scheduled an ex-co-worker Jackie to play my wife in the Flashback scene. It was a little awkward I think for both of us but it was fun.    

A few years passed, both of the shorts films were complete, I had a son, I bought a house, and the second of the short was making its way into the festivals. There's this high school by my house that looked like a prison from the back. I asked Jackie and Sean to do the quick scene where my character would come out the back, see her and hug her. I would film Jackie waiting for me and getting excited. And also film her driving to come and get me.    

Now all that was next to the film was the fight scene. I could have rented out space on a weekend to do it but I wanted to keep it free. But doing so would halt this project. So I thought of the next best thing, make the scene animated. I have never seen a short film as a mixed media as such. I can do the drawings but I didn't want to. One, because it's a lot of work and I haven't been practicing. Two, I wanted to give people a chance to get their work out there. The only problem is that it's a lot to ask someone to do 40 drawings for free. I asked a couple of artists who agreed but nothing ever came out of it. I couldn't get mad because I knew it's hard to start these things without the motivation of payment and it's not for yourself but someone else.    

So in all, I should have been disciplined enough to do at least one drawing a month. Small goals are still goals. And from what I am learning so far, small goals are obtainable. It gives you the instant gratification of completing something. After a few years of shooting with Jackie, I put out the trailer. This is a project I have to complete at some point. I know someday it will get done. 

Written & Directed by

Clint Horvath

Cast (in credits order)

Clint Horvath ... Prisoner
Omar Feliz ... Warden
Zachary Wuench ... Avigilo
Jaclyn Santos ... Wife
Ruben Dominguez ... Guard

Produced by

Alma Dominguez
Clint Horvath

Cinematography by

Sean Barther

Film Editing by

Clint Horvath

Music Department

Johnny Russo


Genre: Short, Action, Drama
Release Date: 27 November 2014 (USA)
Also Known As: Espionage
Filming Locations: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Runtime: 10 min

Did you watch it? What did you think of the Dead Zone trailer?

Questions / Comments?