There was a time when I attempted, with the help of some friends and strangers, to film a full length zombie film. It was called Waking Up With Zombies. It was terrible as I hoped it would be. And also a lot of fun.
In the summer of 2008 I downloaded a copy of Final Draft and didn’t know what I was going to do with it. It just seemed like something fun to check out. So as I was trying to learn how to use it I figured the easiest way would be to write a screenplay. I never wrote a screenplay before so I had no clue what I was doing. Everyday at work I began writing pages and pages of nonsense. I figured let me just write a screenplay to a movie that I would like to see. I knew it would never get made or sold or anything like that. That wasn’t my concern. I simply wanted a reason to learn Final Draft.
The end result was 85 pages about a group of teenage zombie hitmen trying to save their small town from zombies while also smoking them. I know. It makes a ton of sense. Teenage films like to have kids doing drugs. I wanted the drugs in mine to also be the zombies. They would turn their bodies into a large hookah basically. Then they would hallucinate and all types of fun would ensue. I knew the typical way of course to kill zombies is by destroying the brain, but I wanted to make it more fun. I wanted it to be full of gore, and so a lot of the kill scenes were really obnoxious. Once we decided this would be a film we would try to make it became clear we would have to rework these kill scenes.
I was talking with my friend who was a film student at the time. I told him I was writing this script that was like Stand By Me meets Dawn of the Dead. As I recall he was the one who put out the idea of filming it. I had no idea what I was in for. Myspace was still big at the time so we posted ads for actors and zombies on there and Craig’s List. We also put up flyers around town. We met some interesting people just going into shops to hand these out. One man ran an interesting shop where he sold nothing. You went there to listen to music, watch old films on 35 mm film, watch people jam on sitars while wearing 3-d glasses all while eating free pizza and paying nothing for the entertainment. This man agreed to be a zombie extra. There’s a mold of his arm somewhere that was to be used as a prop.
My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was around 7 months pregnant when we met with people who responded to our acting ads. We had to persuade them to work for food and film credits. We had no budget for this film. So it was a miracle anyone agreed to help us. But we were lucky, and we found some really great people that were eager to film a zombie movie. We spent some time rehearsing and doing table reads in our living room before finally shooting some scenes.
The movie was never completed. I had bitten off way more than I could chew. We filmed about a third of the movie which in retrospect probably isn’t too bad considering how ambitious it was. While my friend shot the scenes I would set up a simple point and shoot camcorder to film some behind the scenes footage. The clip below is shot from that camera. I was shooting in color but his camera was shooting in black and white. So although our zombie appears very green he actually looked a lot better in black and white. This is a scene where two female characters team up to try and kill a zombie. It took a while to shoot this because they kept laughing instead of being stone cold killers. This was shot about a month or two after my wife gave birth to our daughter. She’s the one in the green hoodie. My wife. Not my daughter. Two month olds are terrible at taking direction. It’s just a quick glimpse into a terrible horror comedy that was never made.