|Twenty years later we had
never made ‘that film’. Somehow in the process of our short films, coupled
with growing up and becoming responsible filmmakers with ‘something to say
about the world’ and all that stuff, our Zombies had been left shuffling in the
nether world of a distant memory. It certainly wasn’t the first time Jon had
mentioned the Zombie itch we never scratched, he would do so every couple of
months or so, as it was still his ‘dream project’, but for me, the timing had
never been right.
|That was until the
might of what was in our opinion a (excuse the obvious but far too
tempting pun) ‘crap’ Nappies commercial. Enough was enough.
|Suddenly it was
obvious we had lost our way and been unwittingly lured into a world
where our artistic talents had been bought out by corporations
wanting to sell stuff and we were going to get old and die
miserably, having never made that film that had sparked our youthful
passion in the first place.
|So how about this we
proposed: F**k the next soap commercial or whatever it would be, instead we
were going to shut the production company doors and resurrect our Zombies.
Shooting a commercial
|Not only that, but we would
shoot it in Africa. We’d shot a lot of commercials in Africa and were therefore
‘experienced in the field’. Surely everyone else’s Zombie movies would be set
in LA, New York, London etc with their protagonists ultimately hauled up in
some familiar setting with the dead trying to claw their way in.
|We wanted to give audiences
something different. Maybe even something that would take the living dead
legend back to its roots, and we would even try and do it in an artistic and
tasteful manner, taking our audience on a beautiful, even a spiritual journey
across African landscapes with a good few scares on the way.
|I thought about all the
social & political messages such a film might be able to contain, yet it
could still work for audiences who just fancied a bit of Zombie action. We
talked about the potentially positive attributes – two different cultures
coming together to fight a common enemy.
|My heart was suddenly
beating faster at the mere thought of it; Zombies in Africa, so
wrong, but so right. Such a rebellion from the corporate suits that
we were shooting commercials for.
|No longer would we
be on set using our film making skills to frame, light and capture a
product for someone to sell to the masses; where a client might
interject on my shot-flow from behind a monitor, coffee-in-hand
while I’m busting my ass off to try and make their advert beautiful
only to hear ‘I would rather my product was held in a different way’
or, ‘I’m not feeling that this shot is emotionally right for the
would be on location directing Zombies to tear the flesh off the living in
dusty African terrains. It was such a departure it almost felt naughty and I
wondered if my fluttering heart rate and erratic breathing was how it might
have felt to be stuck in a loveless relationship having just received the offer
of a sordid affair!
|Crazy as it all sounds you
have to understand that in this moment, Jon and I were tapping into something
magic from our childhood. I wasn’t particularly into Zombie movies anymore.
Since the ‘classics’ we had loved, most had been a bit disappointing.
|In truth, my current DVD
collection would be an embarrassment for most hard core genre fans, they would
probably kick me and my collection out of the house and I’d be left in the rain
clutching my copy of ‘Amores Perros’. But as 11 and 12 year-olds, my brother
and I would walk several miles from our home in Brighton just to stare at the
poster for Lucio Fulci’s ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ (‘Zombie 2’ US title).
|We were too young to get in
but every day, while it was on release, we would walk through rain or fog back
to that cinema and just stare at this image of a lifeless hand bursting out of
the ground with the dead descending on New York. It was an apocalyptic image
that impacted me to my very core and the feeling I got when looking at it was
now about to form part of the inspiration for the insane project that had just
been proposed. We had eventually been able to see the film and it is also one
of our ‘classics’ that had an incredible atmosphere we also wanted to
|So in minutes the plan was
hatched and at this point it was a simple one: I would invest my life savings
into the movie and we would ship a big truck out to Africa full film equipment,
plus a generator and anything else we needed.
|We would then gather a small
crew, including one non African actor (our lead role), then all fly out together,
meet the equipment at the port and all have a merry time travelling around
Africa shooting this movie.
|I felt there was no way we
could make this movie in the traditional manner. No one would have financed it
and in any case we didn’t want to trawl around production companies with our
script. In fact we agreed there and then that we wouldn’t even show the script
to anyone. I had saved some money from directing commercials and this seemed
the perfect thing to invest it in.