Invasion Of The Not Quite Dead: Director interview

First time director Anthony Lane talks about his fan-funded zombie flick Invasion Of The Not Quite Dead

Anthony Lane is directing his first feature film, Invasion Of The Not Quite Dead – the first fan-funded zombie apocalypse movie! We caught up with him to learn more about this DIY horror…

– For those who don’t know, can you give us the background of how this project came to be?

During my final year at the International Film School Of Wales I came up with a unique take on the zombie genre, something that combined ZOMBIES with that of the sci-fi b-movie genre of the 1950’s, I’m a huge fan of films like ‘THEM’, ‘TARANTULA’ and ‘INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS’, my inspiration came from those and that of George A Romero’s original three zombie movies, ‘NIGHT’, ‘DAWN’ and ‘DAY OF THE DEAD’.

So I began developing my script and using the internet to promote a film I wanted to make. To begin with, all I had was the title ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, then I managed to get an incredible graphic designer to do a promotional movie poster that had a smoking zombie, the idea was to have everything in place for when I graduated university. I graduated in the Summer of 2007 and found that no one wanted to take a chance on me, a first time writer/director or a unique horror idea, for some reason film studios and funding bodies get nervous if you want to make something original.

I learned very quickly after leaving film school how we was trained in every area of filmmaking except that of raising a films budget, it was almost like we was trained to always work for other people and not to attempt to make a feature film straight out of film school, I was determined to show them that it could be done, that a first time filmmaker straight out of university could make a high profile, high production value movie on their own, so this project became an “I’LL SHOW THEM’ kind of project, haha.

– Can you tell us how you went about funding the project and what the pre-order producer packages are?

After many failures and 2 and a half years of attempting to raise my movies budget I turned to the fan base that I’d been building up, so I launched a fan fundraising website called THE INDYWOOD MOVIE PROJECT in May 2009. I initially signed up to twitter just so I could have a quick way of updating people with what was happening, but to my surprise, I began receiving donations from my first day on there, this pretty much became my main fundraising platform.

Since launching my fan fundraising site in May 2009, I’ve had over 1500 people donate from 28 different countries, raising over £55,000 so far, which is proving that fans can bring a movie to life. Every day I’m just amazed at how incredible the support for my film has been over the last 30 months of fundraising, even as I write this, I’m currently doing a 20 day twitter film fundraiser which will end with me doing a 101 HOUR no sleep, non stop twitter film fundraising marathon, I’ve done quite a few of these, for the last year, I’ve been doing NO SLEEP fundraisers to raise money, usually between 50-86 HOURS straight, the irony is, I’m going without sleep to make a zombie movie and becoming a zombie in the process.

The way we are funding this film is from fan donations and in exchange for donations we give out exclusive perks, like for example, getting a day on set as a ZOMBIE, getting tickets to the premier, having their names in the end credits, in fact we have producer packages ranging from £10-£5000 with their being bigger and better perks with each producer level they go to. For Christmas we are even doing special PRODUCER PACKAGE GIFT SETS, which include a ZOMBIE AD LANE usb stick, I’ve never come across 3D zombie usb sticks anywhere and now thanks to this film project, they are now out in the world, haha

– What was your inspiration for the plot? And why zombies?

It’s safe to say I’m a huge film fan, I love most genres, but the genre that excites me the most is that of the SCI-FI and HORROR genre, for me when I came up with the idea to make ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ it was from using elements that had excited me from films I grew up on and films that still excite me to this day, but for me that wasn’t enough, anyone can just take elements from their favorite movies and put a film out, I wanted to make a movie that was unique and original, something that could revive the dying ZOMBIE genre, because lets be honest here, everyone is now making zombie movies, its a very popular genre to cover and production companies know that their movie will sell, but for me, I can count on both hands the only zombie movies I actually like and would buy, I believe its about 7, so the odds of someone making a good zombie film are very slim in my eyes, which is why I have set myself an incredible challenge of bringing something new to the table, something that would make me want to keep the movie after watching it, so I decided to cross 2 of my favorite genres, writing something new and exciting, but still having elements that horror and sci-fi fans would still get excited about.

– How did you go about getting the extras, costumes, and effects needed for the film? It was all filmed on a Canon MK II, right?

Only the films intro has so far been shot, which was indeed shot on the Canon 5D mark ii, with the intro being set in 1978 and in Bulgaria, I wanted it to have a raw, gritty look to it, which is why I chose to shoot it myself and not have a professional DP, I wanted it to act like a camera from the 70’s would of, in and out of focus, quite shaky, the best way of achieving that look cheaply, was to do it myself, I had a lot of fun filming out there. One of the good things about filming in Bulgaria is how relaxed they are when it comes to health and safety, I did put myself in physical danger a few times to get the shot I needed, an example of this was me hanging off the side of a car trailer to film from, this would have been frowned upon in the UK, haha, but going back to your question, before heading out to Bulgaria we hired a make up artist Stefani Ingamells, and an incredible costume designer Jess Snyder who both just did amazing work, in fact Stefani really came through for us at the last minute, because our lead actor didn’t turn up at the airport and luckily Stefani had some acting experience, I managed to get an incredible performance out of her, we had no idea how great an actress she was till we pointed the camera at her.

– What stage are you at now with production?

As of right now we are in the final stages of fundraising, then in January we begin pre-production on the main shoot, which we aim to have finished by the summer of 2012.

– When can we see the finished film?

If everything goes to plan, then we are aiming to release the movie HALLOWEEN 2013 in cinemas, we will be self distributing the movie in the UK, right now we have a twitter fan base of 76,000 followers and rising, we are hoping by the time the film is ready for release, we will have double that and be in a great position to self distribute our movie, cutting out the middle man, or the distributor that would find a million reasons to not give us any money for our film, so we will then be in a strong position to put that profit straight into making PART 2, after all, ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ is a planned trilogy, so everything I do, has to be done with that in mind.

– What has the reaction been so far to the footage?

To be honest, I was prepared for the worst… 2 days after getting back from filming, I put together a 30 second clip of bits of footage we got, just to show the world filming had begun, it was just something I put together over the course of an evening, but to my surprise it really excited our producers and the fan base, this was a promo that didn’t have any zombies, any real violence or gore, if anything, it had a real 50’s b-movie sci-fi feel to it, so it was a huge relief to find the response to be incredible.

– Do you think you will attempt a production like this again?

I do love the interaction with the fan base, at the end of the day you’re chatting with people who may or may not pay much more than the price of a DVD, so its great to find out what makes them excited, to have people donate thousands to a movie project is an incredible feeling, to know that your movie is worth someone donating that much, instead of just them buying a DVD. So this FAN FUNDING model is something I’d very much like to keep going with all my future projects and to be honest, I wake up every day proud that I never gave up hope and I just hope that when people read about my story, it will inspire them to go out and chase their dream and to not give up, life is way too short if you end up doing something that makes you miserable.

If anyone reading this would like to become a producer to our movie, please visit http://indywood.co.uk or follow me on twitter @indywoodfilms I would also just like to say THANK YOU to EVERYONE who in the last 3 years has supported this project by donating or spreading the word, without you guys this film would not be in the process of being made next year and I now make it for all of you amazing people, so THANK YOU.