Regisseur Cameron Romero is momenteel druk bezig met zombiefilm Rise of the Living Dead. Dit project kan gezien worden als prequel op Night of the Living Dead. Deze film is gemaakt door niemand minder dan zijn vader George A. Romero, welke tevens gezien wordt als de uitvinder van het zombiegenre. Mede dankzij Dutchy Marketing kregen wij de kans om Cameron te interviewen en hem te ondervragen over zombies, Nederhorror en natuurlijk zijn aankomende project.
Dear Cameron. How would you describe your new project in your own words?
“Rise” may be the most important project of my entire life. It started in 2010 when I was in a conversation where I was asked the same question I’d been asked a million times; “why don’t you make a zombie movie?” By then my answer was pretty standardized and came out automatically as “because they are my dad’s and I don’t think filmmakers need to keep telling his story 9 ways from Sunday.” That’s when everything was turned upside down on me and the other party asked “ok… well what zombie movie would you make if you could?” It was one of those moments in life, a moment of clarity as it were. I’d spent my life idolizing my father and his work, studying his style and his storytelling, reading everything I could find on the subject of zombies, George A. Romero and the hundreds of interpretations of his work and yes… I had my own story that I’d been sitting on since I was a kid; but it wasn’t until someone asked me a relatively benign question that the entire thing flashed in my head from front-to-back. “Rise” was born in that moment.
I went home and sat down with my laptop and began to write, literally like I had never written anything before. I actually wrote the entire first draft in about four days and slept once during the process. I took a few days after that to process what I had just put myself through and got immediately to work on what would become the building blocks for where the project is today. I worked to address every question I ever asked my dad about his work, every question I could remember having a discussion with fans about, every panel I’d ever witnessed, every paper I’d ever read and then I began to look at the universe that my father’s work spawned; the rules, the canon, lore… all of it.
A couple months later, after I had finished the script and was happy with it, I showed it to a few people whose opinions I respected including my screenwriting mentor and the response was a resounding approval. There was only one thing left to do with it… I had to show it to two people who happened to be the same man and to this day I’m not sure which was more nerve-wracking.
First, I had to show it George A. Romero, the godfather of the modern zombie… the man credited with creating a pop-culture phenomenon that has sparked thousands of works of art, inspired millions or artists, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc… the man whose work can be credited as the inspiration to more than I can even begin to list here… Jesus… what the Hell was this iconic living legend going to think about my attempt at a story that not only takes place before his universe, but addresses, very specifically, issues that I knew he, himself, had as well as holes I had identified in the universe through nothing more than the eyes of a fan.
Second, I had to show it to my dad. Dammit. Like I wasn’t stressed enough about showing it to George A. Romero, now I was a son showing what I hoped was my best work to my father who had risen to epic status in the same industry I was working within to try to earn a name for myself. I’d say that was probably the most stressful day of my life. I even gave him every possible out in the email to tell me that he just didn’t have the time or inclination to read it.
He sat down and read it that day and called me as soon as he finished. He followed up our call with an email and I felt like a weight the size of Texas had been lifted off my chest. He didn’t like it… he loved it. He got it… he appreciated it. He respected it.
Since then “Rise” has become so much more than a movie to me. It’s become the most important project of my life. It’s become my way to tell my dad just how much I love him… how much I respect him as a filmmaker and as my father… it’s become my way to show him just how deeply his influence has run and it’s become the best and only way I can think of to tell him and the rest of the world just how proud I am to be his son.
Do you remember watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time? How did you experience it?
I do remember this…. I was about 6 years old and this is mostly from the accounting told to me by my mother when I was older as I was a bit too young to remember all the details, but as she used to tell the story, I was in the basement of my mom’s house and I found an old projector on a shelf with a bunch of canned reels next to it. I spooled up the first one and it was a Pennsylvania tourism film my dad made for my mom who worked for Ketchum when they met. It was beautiful footage of PA. Granted, at 5, I had no real understanding of what I was watching, but it was cool and I remember it. I spooled up another one and another and spent most of the day watching old films my dad made. Somewhere in the middle of the stack I spooled up a reel and I saw footage of a car driving down a winding road. Considering the nature of everything else I’d watched, I was expecting more of the same… it was “Night.” My mom came looking for me a while later and found me toward the end of the last reel of the film… I was terrified and sitting on the concrete floor with film cans all around me hiding my face behind my hands and peeking at the screen when I thought it was safe to look. To a 6 year old, it was basically never safe to look! Anyway, she couldn’t pull me away from it. Even though I was scared, I couldn’t stop looking and according to my mom, when it was over I asked her what it was. She said “That’s what your dad does.” Apparently my response to her was only 6 words… “I want to do that too.”
Night of the Living Dead is one of the (if not the) movies that defined the zombie genre as we know it today. The genre has undergone somewhat of a “revival” lately, and seems to be thriving throughout several media. Aside from movies we have videogames like The Last of Us and of course the immensely popular tv-show The Walking Dead. How do you think your movie will manage to stand out in the current environment?
This is possibly the trickiest question to answer with regard to “Rise.” I think it best to say that I simply believe that it will. “Rise” is not a typical zombie movie. It’s not a re-hashing… it’s not a re-telling… it’s not a remake or a sequel and it’s not another project that takes the same basic rules and works within them to tell a story similar to others… it’s not a survival horror film… it’s not a “lost hope” story… it’s just not what I think people may be expecting.
Comedy zombie flicks are also very popular nowadays: films like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. For many years it has also been a popular genre for exploitation films. So what is your opinion on the movies that don’t treat this genre seriously?
I take a bit of offense when people say that filmmakers don’t take this genre seriously. Comedic in nature or not, I think any filmmaker who makes a legitimate entry into the world takes the genre very seriously. Hell… my dad saw the comedy in what he did and nobody took it more seriously. The reality is that horror and comedy are two ends of the same spectrum. The same timing that makes a joke funny is the same timing that makes a scare scary. The fact that my dad’s films were known for their socio-commentary lends itself to the fact that there is a heavy factor of satire in his work as well… so I happen to think that people who say artists and filmmakers don’t take the genre seriously enough are the ones who take the whole thing much too seriously themselves.
What do you think makes the zombie so interesting as a recurring movie monster?
I side with my dad on this one. In the event that an apocalypse were ever to happen, a zombie can be literally anyone. Your neighbor, your priest or preacher, your family doctor or accountant or the lunch lady… your mother, father or child could become the mindless vehicle of your own demise no matter how close of a relationship or how fleeting of an acquaintance they may or may not have been… it could be a stranger or your best friend… there’s something terrifying in that; something visceral on a level not many, if any, other monsters can come close to touching.
Have you got any favourite horror movie that no one has ever heard of?
This is probably the trickiest question I get asked most often. I love films that aren’t afraid to look at fear as a concept. I like deeply psychological stuff and I love metaphorical horror.
Do you know any (Dutch) horror movies? If so, did you like them?
I like Dick Maas a lot. I think he has some great sensibilities as a filmmaker and good sense of what makes a horror movie and I dug Two Eyes Staring a lot.
Have you got any actors in mind to star in this film? Who would you get if available?
I have recently attached my dear friend Dimitri Vegas in great role in the film. Beyond that I’m currently speaking with actors about roles in the film can’t really name anyone just yet. I can say that some of the folks I’m speaking with have been on my short “dream list” for this project since day 1 and I’m so lucky to speaking with them.
What could our readers do to support your project?
This is the easiest question to answer in this interview… Anyone who’s interested in supporting “Rise” can simply follow the project on social media.
Join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/groups/160356454711466/
Follow the page at https://www.facebook.com/romerosrise/
Follow my personal page at https://www.facebook.com/georgecameronromero/
Follow my twitter at https://twitter.com/IamGeorgeRomero
And of course, fans can become patrons of my Patreon account to help launch the official Romero Rise Podcast: https://www.patreon.com/georgecromero
You could buy your Rise march currently located at http://romerosrise.com I’ll be changing the online handler of the transactions soon but march links will always be active and current here.