This interview was conducted with the writer/director of Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, the first episodic cable television show based on a zombie apocalypse. Special thanks to Pat Devaney for taking time to answer these questions. For more information on the show check out their website at http://www.zombiehuntershow.com and their official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ZombieHuntersCityoftheDead
BotD: For those who don't know, what is Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead?
PD: "Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead" is a TV series based on a simple premise: if Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' happened for real, in the heart of NYC, what would it be like? What would really happen? How would people really act like?
The main story follows the lives of Billy Cassidy and his friends (Paul Bates, John Salazar, Rebecca Kaufman, Carrie Walker, and a gun dealer named "Smoothie") as they try to deal with the situation. Their solution: get guns, and go out killing these things before they have a chance to take over.
The subplots include a militia group that is capitalizing on the crisis, the city and state officials who are trying to cover the entire thing up, and the disappearence of Billy's girlfriend, Judy.
The show also holds the distinction of being the first (and until recently ONLY) continuously-broadcast Zombie-based series in the world.
BotD: How did the show come into existence?
PD: Many of us on the show are life-long friends, and have always been interested in horror films. As a child, I couldn't get into the theater to see Dawn of the Dead in 1978 due to it's X-rating. I had to wait until the re-release in 1982 to see it (and even then I had to sneak in!). That beautiful, technicolor nightmare changed everything for me.
I have been interested in making films for a very long time. We regularly went to horror conventions as a group of Vampire Hunters, and I started writing some short story ideas, but it always went back to Romero's work. I finally decided one day to give it a shot, sent out a group eMail to everyone I thought would be interested, and got a huge response. We started filming 6 months later and have never looked back.
BotD: What is your favorite aspect of making the show? (editing, writing, acting, etc)
PD: Years ago, I'd have answered Editing. I believe everything in a film boils down to the editor. And while it is still one of my favorite parts, many other things are special to me.
I love when we wrap for a day's shooting, and everyone is exhausted, but they're happy, and laughing. I love when someone who doesn't think they can act does a scene that brings applause the moment I call 'cut'. And I love that moment when I realize an episode is done, that it exists on it's own, and doesn't need me anymore.
BotD: Do you have any specific training or education when it comes to film making? If so, explain.
PD: None whatsoever, in the traditional sense. Unless is you count almost 42 years of watching horror, drama, and sci-fi films. As an infant, my mother sat me in front of the TV and explained who everyone was on Dark Shadows during it's original run. I still blame her for this! :)
But nothing can really get done properly without trained people. I had worked as a commercial editor before computers were used for cutting, and I have studio experience in assembling media from when I was a musician. But I mainly rely on those in my crew who have gone to film school, who've worked in media and on film sets, for their technical guidance. I also rely on those outside of the film industry to advise me on police procedure, medical terms, and computer programming. When you get everyone together, if it's right, you work as one large, well-trained animal. I can't think of a better way to describe it!
BotD: What would be your favorite weapon to use during a zombie apocalypse? why?
PD: A 9mm Uzi. I used a real one when we were training for the show, and in many scenes that is the real thing I'm carrying. I was instantly impressed by the feel of the weapon, and how (with next to no training) I scored 8 out of 10 hits with it against the farthest targets on the range. With a clip of 30 commonly found rounds, a selective rate of fire, and a track record of reliability, I'd opt for that every time.
BotD: How do you feel about track star zombies?
PD: I get asked this a lot, and for us, it's a hybrid situation. I personally dislike 'fast' zombies, as that tells me they're rabid, not dead. Rabid people are scary, but the Living Dead SCARE me. I think that's an important difference.
On ZH, we have a hybrid, like I mentioned. Linnet Brooks (who plays 'Rebecca') has her Ph.D., and agreed to do the show ONLY if it was 'medically accurate'. And for her, fast zombies would be perfectly normal UNTIL rigor mortis set in. So, we took her advice: our Zombies are as fast and as strong (albeit dead and confused) as they ever were in real life for a good 2-3 hours. Plus, our Zombies re-animate instantly. Which gives you no time to prepare. They're bleeding out one second, and on you the next. Not good.
But for MY personal vote? Let's keep the Zombies true to form, nice and slow and unrelenting.
BotD: What is your favorite piece of zombie cinema?
PD: Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". It's never been topped in over three decades. Zombie perfection. I'm not sure why any of us even try.
BotD: What is your favorite non-zombie horror flick?
PD: This is a tough one, but I have to go with "The Shining". To this day, if that's on, I'll stop what I'm doing to watch it..... and be freaked out almost instantly. King + Nicholson + Kubrick = Brilliance.
BotD: What would be your favorite zombie kill?
PD: In Episode 1, Teri Gudorp ("Teri") grabs actress Monica Beck by the face and snaps her neck. People still yelp when they see (and hear!) that. In Episode 6, Chris Murphy ("Bates") kills actress/model Kim Santiago with a functioning power drill. I'd say those two!
BotD: When you are not working on ZH, what do you with your time?
PD: I try to spend time with my beautiful (and VERY understanding) wife Jeanna. I also do carpentry (I built much of our furniture), write stories, and do accounting for any number of companies. In years past, I've built homes for Habitat For Humanity. I also manage my own production company and plan all our future projects (some zombie-related, some not!)
BotD: What is the future of ZH?
PD: We just finished filming our first season on the evening of 9/11. Production of the second season picks up in mid-2011. A third season has already been written, but elements of it might be incorporated into the second, depending on how the overall storyline evolves.
But so far, everyone who's worked on the first is interested in staying on for the second (to be filmed between 2011 and 2014). So right now, I'm talking a bit of a vacation from the Zombie world, my first in 5 years, to re-charge and figure out where all these characters are going to go next!