This is the make-or-break step for any zombie movie maker. Sure, you’d love to have shots of tons of zombies thronging through Times Square or besieging the White House. But do you really have that kind of zombie movie budget? Instead, use the tried and true tool of all great zombie horror: isolation.
Unless you’ve got a Hollywood budget, you’ll get more zombie-for-your-buck if you pick an isolated, rural location, as seen in Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead and countless other zombie movies since. Isolation allows you to forgo complex and expensive plot elements, such as, “Should I pop down to the gun store on Fourth Avenue and arm myself,” in favor of far simpler, more straightforward plots like, “Am I going to make it out of this farmhouse alive?”
However, if you’ve got friends with connections, you’ll want to make use of them however you can. Buddy of yours work at the grocery store? Sounds like a late-night zombie grocery store movie shoot to me. Friends own a pub? Now you’ve got a pub zombie movie. If all else fails, consider asking them if you can shoot in their apartments – promise you’ll clean up all the gore, which actually brings us right along to Step 2.
Every zombie movie since the dawn of zombie movies has been gory. That’s just what it’s all about, particularly when it comes to those Italian Zombie movies. If your zombie movie is going to be successful, you’re going to need some gore. There’s a few different ways you can play this one, depending on your access to resources and the boldness of your acting pool:
Go to the Butcher
Yeah, it sounds awful, but nothing really says “I’m eating a guy’s stomach” like eating a stomach. Just make sure it isn’t actually a human stomach. The butcher can probably sell you remaindered bits that no one in their right mind would ever want to eat – that’s exactly where you and your zombies come in. To get that “steamy” effect, and to prevent your zombie actors from vomiting on the spot, freeze the meat and shoot the gory scenes in a hot room.
Rags and Bags
If you’re going with the low-budget, documentary style zombie movie, consider using some appropriately shaky camera work to hide the fact that your zombies aren’t, in fact, eating guts at all, but rather strips of cloth rags, wrapped in cellophane and soaked in a mixture of cornstarch and food coloring. If you really want to be nice, you could probably throw some pineapple juice in there and it wouldn’t taste half bad.
This is it – it’s all come down to this. You’ve got resources, actors, fake (or, perhaps real) gore, a decent plot, (possibly) a place to shoot it – now is the time.
Whatever you do, in spite of what you may have learned in film school, do not inform the police that you will be shooting a zombie movie. Trust me, this is for strategic purposes – when they all come running out in riot gear to take you down, you can probably get a lot of footage for free that might have otherwise been expensive to shoot and produce.
Try to get the shooting done as quickly as possible. This is a practical need, as the gore you’ve prepared won’t last forever and you don’t want to smell it three days into shooting. Stick to your plot, and keep your actors happy with sex, drugs and alcohol, which seems to work with most actors, anyway.
Remember, a good zombie movie will always suggest a sequel. There’s no such thing as a world safe from zombies! Make sure your viewers understand this by ending your movie with a kind of “Holy Crap Zombies Are Still Coming to Get You Barbara!” kind of finish.
Once you’re finished shooting, dump it all into your brother’s laptop and make him do all of the editing for you.
And there you have it! If you’ve followed this tutorial to the letter, you should have, by this point, something vaguely resembling a zombie movie. Make a few copies on DVD and send one to the Sci-Fi network – you could end up on their Saturday-terrible-movie-lineup. If, by some stroke of genius, you’ve produced the next Night of the Living Dead,, I’ll expect some kind of royalty check in the mail.