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Film School Wannabe...Me

For a long time I have wanted to make a short movie. In particular I have wanted to make a horror film (something not a lot of people know about me). Today while talking with my younger sister I decided that I am going to make this dream a reality within the next year and a half. I already know one thing...it is going to be a zombie flick. I had initially thought about doing something with vampires, because they are what really fascinate me as far as the undead is concerned, but zombies are just calling to me right now (or rather moaning). Vampires are in the future for me, but I felt like it would be so predictable for me to make that my first venture.

I only want it to be a 30-50 minute film that will begin en media res. Obviously there is a lot of planning that has to go into something like this even if it is a short film. I have begun watching zombie films and researching more about the genre. I have always been a fan of both analyzing films and writing about them, so this should be really enjoyable research for me to do. Already I have several notions about the consistencies and inconsistencies between various zombie films. Right off the bat I know that most horror and science fiction pieces of literature and film deal with the idea of an alien/outcast in society that faces persecution by the majority of the population.

Dr. Albert Wendland once told my MWG: Popular Fiction class (highly reccomend to English majors) that the core plot development for most of these novels comes from literally using aliens and monsters to represent minorities in our real word version of society. The social undertones (and overtones) that are present in zombie films can also be related to this statement mainly because the zombies are just like living humans in every way except that they are dead. That is the true fear factor of the zombie condition: they are just like you and me. In these films and stories it is also interesting to relate the extermination of zombies as a species or section of the human race. The horrific idea of mass genocide comes to mind, though in reality it is a stark contrast.

I know there are just a ton of things that I need to consider before I even begin writing the script. How many people can I afford to cast; where will it be shot; how much will the props and effects cost? I am working with a budget that will be rather limited. As of right now I have a bunch of ideas, some DVDs to watch and a video camera. Though I can boast some zombie makeup experience from several past Halloweens and other miscellaneous events. Who knows where this will take me? One of my dreams for a long time was to grow up to be a zombie makeup artist lol. I plan on posting my observations about each film on my blog over the next few months as I begin researching and I welcome any feedback or responses. I find great inspiration in hearing from both peers and professors.

Comments (5)

Sounds like a great project, Leslie. Have you considered an independent study, perhaps with the idea of writing a paper to submit to a regional conference? Would a short audio version be a useful way to test out some of your ideas? Just curious.

Emerson College has a cool master's program you might want to check out. Zombies R Cool.


The idea hadn't crossed my mind to do an independent study with this project until now. I am not sure I would know where to begin planning that one though. Any suggestions?

This is something I am very passionate about and hope to actually be able to produce. As far as the audio version is concerned, do you mean something like a read aloud of the script or more of me going over my ideas as a whole?

Thank you so much for you comments.

Moira thanks for the heads up about Emerson. That is also something that I would be willing to look into over the next few months. Grad school has been on my mind for a while, but I am not sure I want to take out any more loans to pay for it.

Anything that helps you achieve your creative vision will be useful. Certainly if, along the way, you researched a news feature on indie filmmaking, or found some academic question that's worth investigating (why are zombies so appealing today, while in post-war Japan it was huge monsters pounding cities, and in cold-war America it was rural areas being invaded by space aliens who could take on the form of ordinary people)?

If you want to make sure that you have a story that stands on its own, rather than simply a bunch of special effects and clever camera angles, then a radio play might be a good way to test your ideas.

You might also consider treating a storyboard of the script as if it were a comic book.

If you'd like to expand your skills in Flash, you might consider trying to do something like what someone has done for one of the tracks on Mike Arnzen's upcoming spoken-word / music CD.


Film is not my speciality, but if you can think of other ways to involve new media forms...

Would a zombie keep blogging after, you know, becoming a zombie? Would zombies snap video phone images of their victims? Would zombies be good about paying their bills, so they can keep connected with their zombie friends in the 21stC world?

I've got some ideas... if you're interested, e-mail me and we can stat discussing some possibilities.

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