Your new movie Zombie
Resurrection - in a few words, what is it about?
Jake: A zombie that can bring the undead back to life, and the plight
of a small group of survivors as they struggle to come to terms with what
this means for mankind.
were your inspirations when dreaming up Zombie
Resurrection - and what can you tell us about your collaboration
during the writing process?
Andy: The idea of a Messianic zombie that can resurrect the undead, and
essentially cure them of their zombism, came about through a
particularly bizarre conversation that I had with my son one dinner
time. However, it was't until Jake and I met up a few months
later and he showed me some photos of this crazy abandoned mental asylum
near where he was living at the time that we thought that this undead
Jesus character might make an interesting premise for a movie. I mean,
where else would you find the Messiah after a zombie apocalypse?
Jake: We watched Johannes Roberts' film F at Fright Fest in
2010, which was inspirational in many ways. It made us realise you
didn't need huge sprawling locations and set pieces. A single location
with enough drama, fright and, of course, gore would suffice. It's all
about working with what you've got. Rammbock (Siege of the
also a big influence.
Andy: This was around the time when I got notice that I was going to get
laid off from my day job. So, we took the opportunity to spend the days
more productively sat in our local pub garden with a notepad talking
over the narrative beats, characters and story arcs.
Jake filming the Zombie Messiah (Rupert Phelps)
Jake: We fleshed out our characters initially. We knew we wanted an
ensemble cast, a real cross-section of UK society all thrown together
through the turmoil of the apocalypse. When the world ends and the dust
settles, everyone's in the same boat. I was living in Brighton at the
time, and Andy would send me through pages of script for review and
feedback. We worked like this for a few months as Andy pieced together
a first draft screenplay.
Andy: But at the time we had no idea that we were going to be making the
film ourselves. We figured that this was one of those high-concept ideas
that would draw a bit of attention on InkTip. Until it got to a point
where we thought - why don't we have a crack at this ourselves?
Jake: The early drafts were certainly more ambitious. But then we got
realistic with what we could achieve and set about tweaking the
screenplay for a more modest budget.
Speaking of working
together: How did that work out on set, and did you share responsibilities
along a clear line or was it a more democratic process?
Jake: We had a very clear mindset of how we would work on set. We were
pretty much living together 24-7 at this point, working crazy long days,
and so we had a shared understanding of how the movie would look. From
early on it was decided that I would be DoP and camera operator, and
Andy would work with the talent. I studied Screen Production at
University so (I thought) I knew what I was getting into.
Andy directing Rachel Nottingham and Simon
Andy: I ended up being the one that worked with the actors because I
didn't have any useful technical skills to contribute. We shot
the film over 24 days, so you don't have time to be too
democratic when you're on set. Because Jake and I naturally
gravitated towards these two distinct roles, it made everything more
efficient and less confusing for the cast and crew.
Jake: For the record, nothing prepares you for your first feature!
did the two of you first meet even, and what made you decide to work
Jake: I first met Andy at a local filmmakers group where we would get
together, shoot shorts, meet other filmmakers, etc. Andy appeared in my
final film for University and we just clicked.
Andy: Before we even became friends, we had figured out that we riffed
really well together. There are plenty of people that can act as good
sounding boards when you're chewing over an idea, but it's
rare to find someone that's on the same bizarre wavelength,
who'll happily drag you along a completely new tangent.
Jake: Then one day Andy called me up and said he was being made
redundant at work, and would I be up for making a film. So I handed my
notice in the next day and never looked back.
films these days are a dime a dozen - so what do you think makes yours
Andy: If you're going to make a horror film, make sure you have
an Unique Selling Point. Horror is probably the hardest genre within
which to innovate, and I'm not sure we would have started the
whole enterprise if we didn't think we were doing something new.
Jake: We have a Zombie Jesus, and we have both fast 28 Days Later
zombies and slow, shuffling George A. Romero zombies.
Andy: In the really great zombie movies, the undead aren't really
the main threat to the survivors, it's other survivors. We tried
to find characters that were going to be antagonistic to each other,
rather than just relying on the zombie hordes for all the peril and
Resurrection contains a cast of characters that you
don't normally find in horror cinema.
Zombies and prosthetics and gore effects
usually go hand in hand - so you just have to talk about the effects work
on your movie for a bit?
Jake: We were keen to shoot as
many in-camera effects as we could, with as few CGI shots as possible. We
also knew we wanted some extremely rotten out looking zombies so hired a
very talented SFX artist. Due to the budget several of the gore effects
were one-take deals including a very nasty leg amputation and a 'glass
shard abortion' which to this day still makes me wince.
What can you tell us about your
key cast, and why exactly these people?
Andy: There were a couple of actors that we subconsciously cast almost
as soon as we met them. Eric Colvin (Sykes) is a good case in point -
when he started reading for Sykes, his was exactly the voice that I had
heard in my head as I was writing his dialogue. Jade Colucci, as well,
although she did turn up to the audition dressed as Harden: tracksuit,
hoopy earrings, the full shebang. She did point out at the end of the
audition that this wasn't her usual attire.
Jake: Jim Sweeney (Mac) is literally the exact look, sound and size as
our initial concept character. When we saw his showreel we looked at
each other in disbelief; we probably watched it about ten times in a row
with our mouths wide open. In real life Jim is the kindest and coolest
guy... we kind of feel bad that we made him swear so much!
Andy: Because everybody is thrown into a pressure cooker together for a
month of their lives, if there are conflicting personalities in the
group it can make for a strained atmosphere on set. And we totally
lucked out - an awesome group of people.
Jake: All the cast and crew were exceptional, we were extremely
fortunate to be working with such a great bunch.
A few words
about your wonderful main location, and what was it like working there and
how did you find it even?
Jake: Our main location was a fully working school, during the summer
holidays. We had looked at hiring a few 'abandoned' properties but the
prices were astronomical and most of them didn't have power or toilets.
Shooting in a fully functioning building and dressing it down meant we
had everything we needed.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Andy: We shot over 24 days, doing 6-day weeks. When I got home after the
first night on set I felt that I'd strapped myself to a rocket,
and now I had no choice but to hold on for another 23 days; it
didn't help that the first 3 weeks were all shooting at night, so
everybody's body-clocks were knocked out of whack.
Jake: This was our first feature and as such it had a STEEP learning
curve. I lost about 20 lbs during the month that we shot through a
combination of exhaustion, stress and just being on my feet with a hefty
shoulder rig all day, every day. That said, the on set atmosphere was
great, and we had a superb crew who all bonded really well (two of the
crew members are actually now engaged).
Andy and Jake surrounded by their zombies
Andy: It wasn't till a few months later when we watched some of
the footage that our EPK director Chris Marley had shot behind the
scenes that we realised just how much silliness was being had away from
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Zombie
Resurrection so far?
Resurrection has been out in the UK for just over three
months now and so far it's had a good reception. People seem to like the
Messiah / zombie Jesus idea, and the gore has also had a lot of great
Andy: It's a very strange feeling to be sat in an audience,
watching people laughing at jokes you wrote two years earlier.
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
Jake: There are a number of ideas floating
around, and a couple of scripts in development. Nothing we want to blow
the lid off just yet but certainly more horror on the horizon.
What got each of you into filmmaking to
begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
Andy: I got into it because I love writing screenplays, and have an MA
in Screenwriting. And in the UK, at least, it's really hard
finding someone else that'll make your film for you.
Jake: I studied documentary video production at Winchester University.
In terms of what got me into filmmaking I always loved the action, the
drama and sets, the cameras and lighting. I just love good stories.
How would you describe yourselves
Andy: We put in a crazy amount of work before the shoot, but on set we
deliberately kept the direction fairly simple as we didn't have
the luxury of time. We tried to get into a position where we
weren't thinking as producers while we were shooting, but that
does require you to be extremely well-prepared and pragmatic ahead of
time. So I would say 'disciplined'.
Jake: Getting a feature made is such a huge amount of work, so I'd
definitely say 'motivated'. There's highs and lows and I think we both
worked well to keep each other sane throughout the process - although
maybe we were a bit insane in the first place'
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Jake: Guilermo Del Toro, Michael Mann, Johannes Roberts, Gareth Edwards,
Alfonso Cuarón, Tim Burton, Guy Ritchie.
Andy: Sam Raimi, Joss Whedon, Darren Aronofsky, Hayao Miyazaki. We
contacted a bunch of independent UK filmmakers while we were in
pre-production for advice and guidance, and most of them were extremely
generous with their time; people like Johannes Roberts, Bruce Windwood
and Jim Eaves [James Eaves
interview - click here].
Jake: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Children of Men, The Beat
That My Heart Skipped, Collateral, Big Fish.
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Andy: Well, I grew up in the 80s - the high-water mark for horror films.
Before CGI came along and made everybody's lives easier, there
were a few years of the most extraordinarily invention: The Thing, An
America Werewolf in London, A Nightmare on Elm
Street. I love Day of the
Dead (even more than Dawn of the
Dead), and the first REC movie was
... and of course, films you really
Jake: A gentleman never tells, but I will say I am
not a fan of how CGI and visual FX are driving some films (particularly
big budget productions) over story and well-developed characters.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Thanks for the interview!