We have now wrapped principal photography on 'Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection', every shot is now in the can. So here are my final thoughts on this zombie adventure over the last month or so.
Low budget filmmaking means a group of talented people working hard to make something they believe in, the main motivation being creative satisfaction and starting a career rather than short term financial rewards. We've had some fanboy cynicism on a certain Message Board about being low budget, but that's a little nonsensical considering those same fanboys complain about soulless big budget remakes of the classics. They seem to forget that the best horror films have always been low budget. Remember that the original 'Night of the Living Dead' was made on a low budget and alot of community spirit. So we've had some message board criticism, but no one has seen a second of footage from the actual film yet. Every negative comment at this stage is just verbal premature ejaculation. After becoming involved in some of the message board discussions I soon realized that none of the fanboys want to have a constructive sensible debate about the merits of Low Budget vs Studio or the current industry climate of remakes. What they really want is to throw some shit at filmmakers for the same reason that a dog licks his balls - because they can. It really says more about where they are in their life than it does about the filmmakers. If you don't like the movie when it comes out that's fine, film is subjective and everyone takes from a moviegoing experience whatever they want to. Some people will love this movie, some people will hate it, like every other movie in history. One man's shit is another man's champagne. The important thing for a filmmaker is not to get to hung up on what someone anonymously writes about you. That can be difficult when you're new to the game, but looking at the bigger picture I don't see any other British independent film being made at the moment that's generating so much opinion. So for me, it's all good. At the end of the day we're making a movie for entertainment purposes not curing cancer, it's time for perspective.
We're very lucky that 98% of the people who worked on this film are consumate professionals. They never complained about the very difficult circumstances of shooting out in the middle of nowhere, and have simply knuckled down and focused on making this the best possible film it can be. One of the greatest assets on a film production is the ability for the individual and the collective to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and we were lucky that most were, but of course it wouldn't be a film production without one or two people complaining. I wonder if one or two thought that we were lying about living communally in cottages in the middle of nowhere and that when they arrived there'd be a Hilton hotel in the back garden or something. You can perhaps expect it to be a culture shock for youngsters. They've grown up with the X Factor which gives a misguided view of the entertainment industry, leading people to believe that you get through an audition and you are instantly propelled into a world of glamour, money and fame. The real world doesn't work like that, people have to pay their dues and work their way up in often difficult conditions. It's more perplexing having to face tantrums from people who should be experienced enough to know better. Particularly when they have done nothing of note in their career to justify looking down their nose at everyone else. But of course, I wouldn't be doing my job as producer if everyone walked away from the project liking me. Part of my job description is to be the target for complaints and frustration, and no doubt one or two left the project thinking I'm an absolute cunt who knows fuck all. But you can never keep everyone happy and you certainly can't afford to cater for egos the size of China when you're shooting a 21 day schedule in 13 days, which is what we have been doing. None of it really matters if you get quality on screen and we've done that so any issues encountered during the shoot pale into insignificance now.
The vast majority of people involved were truly wonderful in the making of this film. They embraced the experience wholeheartedly. As hard work as it is, filmmaking is also alot of fun. People wouldn't continue to do it if it wasn't. Most people would kill for the opportunity to make a movie and we've had so many people on this project who have clearly loved the experience and been delighted to be a part of it. Despite the stress of organising a film, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. Making a feature film is an experience most people can only dream of experiencing and that's something everyone blessed to get this opportunity should be grateful for.
We've most definitely had the most enthusiastic and hard working crew in the business. It was always astounding to see the sound recordist Paul Brookes come in from an 18 hour shooting day and still listen back to everything he had recorded that day before grabbing a few hours sleep. Our FX artist Rachael Southcott and assistant Laura Clarke were outstanding, defying the time limitations to produce practical effects each day to an incredibly high standard. Rachael is going to be in very high demand after people see her deliciously gory designs! Vicki Rodway has been the best 1st AD I could have hoped for, able to keep us on schedule but with a wonderful manner towards people. Alot of 1st ADs like to shout obnoxiously and they are often the hate figure for the rest of the crew, but Vicki was able to do a tremendous job without ever jepoardizing morale or alienating anyone. Adam Phillips has filled every role possible on this project, he has acted in the film, been assistant producer, assisted in various crew positions, run people around in his car, while also dishing out a Fact of the Day that has kept us all educated while we've been stranded from civilisation! I simply couldn't have done my job without Adam's willingness to pitch in wholeheartedly on every aspect of production. James Morrissey has been a wonderful DoP, his shorthand with the director and almost telepathic understanding of what he wants has produced a great looking movie. I've always been impressed when watching the rushes, even the raw ungraded footage looks superb. Angry Jim's humour has also been a wonderful influence behind the scenes, and on difficult days he would always crack me up and instantly lighten my mood.
Our actors have all been amazing of course. Lee Bane was the only actor who was actually on location every single minute of our 10 day shoot in the arse end of nowhere. At the crack of dawn before call time every day he would take his bicycle and spend a couple of hours trekking the surrounding areas in Llandysul, then still put in a massive acting shift for the rest of the day with boundless energy and enthusiasm. And when we talk about actors going far and above what you could ever hope for, we had so many who pushed the limits physically and emotionally. Sule Rimi spent 12 hours doing some of the most physically and emotionally difficult scenes possible on our first shooting day, yet he was still able to have a laugh and be an incredibly positive influence on set. Same goes for Richard Burman on our shoot at the Village Shop in Scurlage, Swansea on October 9th. His scenes involved continual physical exertion, yet he took himself to wherever the director asked take after take without any reservations. Rose Granger re-arranged other commitments at the last minute to come in on a day she wasn't originally scheduled for, Kathy Saxondale was able to go to some incredibly dark places and produce tremendous emotion continually, Richard Goss stayed on to do extra shots for us on numerous occasions etc etc. If I had the time I could honestly go through the whole cast list and mention something that each actor has done that illustrates their enormous commitment to bringing this story from script to screen. Also of course our many zombie actors who were so patient as they endured gruelling FX Make Up to bring the undead back to life!
My final word on production should be about director James Plumb, the man whose talent and invention has propelled the production to a higher level. Sooner or later I will be running out of superlatives for him. As a producer you want to work with a director who not only has a specific vision but is willing to work within budget and time limitations. James is the perfect director in that sense, if ever there are financial or time restrictions that limit his initial idea he has the innovative mind and ability to think on his feet,adapt and still produce the goods. I've been continually impressed by his choice of shots, nothing is shot in a boring conventional way, he loves cinema and knows exactly how to tell a story visually. James is also a very natural, charismatic communicator who is confident and at ease with every challenge presented to him. As someone who has directed a feature before producing for a director on his debut feature, I was prepared to offer advice or help if needed. But the truth is James is a better director than I will ever be and believing in his vision and working to get him what he needed to bring it to fruition has been such a positive experience that it's made me feel being a producer is a better fit for me than being a director. In fact, I'd be happy to spend the rest of my career producing films for James Plumb. I truly believe he will grow into one of the UK's best directors so to be there to see that rise first hand would be extremely satisfying on both a professional and personal level.
Now onto a whole new challenge- Post Production!!