Really looking forward to the Frank Darabont’s (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption) adaption of Robert Kirkman’s zombie comic. Like many of you I am wondering how close they’ll stick to the comic. Speaking to FearNET Darabont eased some of my concerns. Sounds like they are well into setting it all up and it will be on film not digital.
Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, the graphic novel series, is very much a template for us, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to take the subject as serious as possible, and really as a long-term exploration of characters, which is what television does best when television is really working. That’s our goal, so gosh, I really don’t think that Zombieland is any competition for us nor are we for them.
It’s really going to be I think two different animals. We’re much more beholden to Kirkman, which is a comfortable place to be because he has blazed a fantastic trail for us to follow. We will take detours along that path – we will take steps off the trail – but always wind up veering back onto the trail that Robert provides for us, because it’s fantastic stuff.
Does that source material provide you with a pretty complete template for the rules of that world? Because notwithstanding Zombieland last year, of course there’s a great legacy of zombie films.
Okay, that’s the intimidating part (laughs). Because that actually proves to be actually a deep pool of very, very good stuff. Boy, there’s a lot of good stuff that’s been done. You see all of these home runs along the way and you go, how will I do? I don’t want to posit ourselves as being competition for any of those films, but I hope that we’ll be considered at least in the category of that good stuff as we go along – that it was worthy stuff to do. And I think Robert has given us a tremendous leg up, a head start in that sense.
I think there’s going to be obviously an ongoing dialogue with standards and practices, but I think we have a friendly venue in AMC, if you see the kind of edgy stuff that Breaking Bad is doing, which I adore, by the way. I don’t think we’re going to be lacking for adult content or the ability to depict the world that we’re depicting. I don’t think we’re going to have that many constraints, and if there are they’ll be in minor increments that will not affect the storytelling that we’re doing. It will just give us an opportunity to maybe do an enhanced cut on DVD or something, but I really don’t think we’ll be constrained too far. I’m certainly not getting the sense that AMC is there to interfere; they are a fantastic group of folks, and they’re very excited about this. They really want to enable rather than hinder this process.
I just got off the plane from Atlanta where we’re scouting. We’re in prep right now, we’re casting, and we’re shooting the first of six episodes in June, the top of June. So we’re what, seven weeks out now?
We are right now looking to cast the two female roles in the ensemble. We’ve also just gotten Jeff DeMunn; I’ve always said Jeff DeMunn is my good luck charm, and I can’t make a film without him. We’ve just gotten him on board as one of the ensemble members, which is a great joy for me. One of the great pleasures of doing anything is to be able to reconvene with those colleagues who have the talent and provide you with the comfort zone of great collaborative, positive energy. Not to sound like Andy Hardy here, but if you’re going to go do a show in a barn, do it with people who have really got the talent and are great to work with, and so far that’s all coming together. Not just in the cast end, but on the crew end. I’m working with people I really value and really treasure. And it may not mean anything to the general public, but to have my first A.D. K.C. Colwell on this means the world to me. To have my production designer Greg Melton on this means the world to me. I’m going to get to work with David Tattersall again, and he’s going to shoot the pilot for me. I haven’t had the chance to work with him since The Majestic, so it’s been about ten years, and he is one of the great gentlemen in his line of work, and one of the great talents. All of these people are. So I’m very lucky that way, and these are people that will have your back. They will go the extra mile.
We’re not going to shoot it digitally. We’re going to go old-school – we’re going to go film. I tested all of the different camera systems that are available at the moment because I was very keen actually on trying out the digital approach, and then I realized that I was really going to shoot myself in the foot because I did, simply because the nature of this particular show [made me consider] you want what you’re shooting on to help the make-up instead of hurt the make-up – let’s start there. Hi-def is a little merciless when it comes to these things, so we’re shooting on film. This is going to be a show where people are hiding places and looking out windows and doors and stuff; well, if what’s outside that door is completely blown-out, nuclear white because digital doesn’t have the latitude that film does, you’d better shoot on film because you want whatever is outside to look like outside. You want to see walls and trees, and even if it’s overexposed, there’s a sense of reality to it. if you’re shooting digitally and you point at the door and all there is is white, you might as well shoot on a sound stage and hang a white silk out there. By necessity, you pick the thing that you think will help the show the best, and yeah – we’re going to be shooting old school.