Zombies to invade Cayman

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Zombies don’t normally wear
Hawaiian shirts and square dance to country and western music, but there’s
nothing normal about the zombies in a new film scheduled to be filmed in Cayman
next month.

Zombie Driftwood is based in North
Side’s Driftwood Bar, run by Phil Eckstein who penned the screenplay which was
commissioned by Scottish filmmaker Bob Carruthers.

Mr. Carruthers is directing the
movie which he describes a “low-budget zombie B movie”.

Casting has already begun and
script read-throughs with local actors are being held at the Harquail Theatre.

But roles are still up for grabs –
there are more than 200 zombies needed to stomp their way through the film.

Mr. Carruthers, who has been on
Cayman for more than six weeks, said he first got involved after coming to
Cayman to look into working on another project involving PC Cast, writer of a
successful series of vampire books.

Whilst hanging out at Driftwood,
Mr. Carruthers got into conversation with Mr. Eckstein who told the director
that he had gotten into the second round of London Film Festival with a
screenplay based on his novel When the Forest Bleeds.

“Bob asked if he commissioned me to
write a script, would I do it. I said ‘Certainly’. He said ‘Do you mind what
the subject matter is?’ so I asked what he had in mind… and he asked if I’d
be able to do a zombie movie.

“I’d never even seen a zombie movie
before, but a friend rented one for me, I watched it, and told Bob ‘Sure’.”

Mr. Eckstein knocked the script out
in four weeks and handed over the finished product just over a week ago.

 “I thought the script was really good,” Mr. Carruthers
said. “So, we put together a micro-budget, it’s to be a small production, we’ll
shoot on two cameras, like they do in soap operas.”

But this “soap opera” involves
young couples visiting North Side, hard-drinking customers at the bar, a world-weary
barman and lots and lots of zombies.

The team behind the movie has
created a local company and will be inviting people to invest in the project by
buying 1 per cent of the company for $5,000. A prospectus with more information
will be released on the company website www.ZombieDriftwood .com later this
month. The site is expected to go live on 25 May, Mr. Carruthers said.

“People kept asking could they get
involved and so we’ve opened this company… People can invest and the
investors will also get to be zombies,” said the director.

He said the investments would be
small, so that “even if it all goes wrong, nobody loses too much”.

The zombie investors will also get
an associate producer credit on the film.

Filming of the movie is scheduled
for the last two weeks of June.

Local cast

“Originally we were going to fly in
cast and crew but there are plenty of people here and some of them can really
act.  We’re hoping to do it all with Cayman
actors,” he said.

“The idea is to bring as few people
on the Island as we can and maximise the opportunities to build something
here,” he said.

He is also hoping to offer training
to people who want to learn to work on movies, as suggested by the Cayman
Islands Film Commission.

“What we’ll be doing is a series of
workshops on how to make commercial productions on very low budgets,” Mr. Carruthers
said.

He plans to hold the workshops at
the start of June.

He said the film would effectively
be a “guinea pig” for future productions made with the assistance of the Cayman
Islands Film Commission, which was set up in January last year with the mandate
to develop a film industry in Cayman.

“The CIFC perspective is that
though this is a relatively small production, it will be a great opportunity
for CIFC to help build local capacity and facilitate further training.
Naturally, it will also provide some incremental income for a variety of people
who would be involved locally,” said Lesley-Ann Thompson, head of marketing at the
Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment which runs the Film
Commission.

If it all goes ahead as planned,
the straight-to-DVD film should complete shooting by the end of June, and the
local premiere could be as soon as September.

It will be distributed on DVD and
Blu-Ray.

The actors and director have had
two read-throughs of the script so far. “There are clearly people who can act
really well on island,” said Mr. Carruthers.

A $150,000 budget has already been
allocated, and any further funds added by investors who want to get involved
will be used to promote and market the film, Mr. Carruthers said.

Tourists from hell

The 75 minute-long film follows a
small group of people fighting off marauding zombies who get to Cayman on a mystery
cruise ship that shows up with no one on board – or at least, no one alive.

“What I liked was this idea of the
cruise ship that disappears in the Bermuda Triangle and appears in North Side
with no passengers. There are lots of opportunity for satire, like zombies in
Hawaiian shirts and shorts,” Mr. Carruthers said.

There are 12 speaking roles in the
film and plenty more groaning and moaning roles in the form of 200 or more
zombies.

“It follows all the conventions of
the genre. People get trapped and besieged,” he said.

Although the film is about zombies
and people being bitten and killed, it also promises plenty of comic relief.

The film is being made with the
help of the Film Commission and many of the actors were found on a resources
list on its website.

“We’re the guinea pig of the
scheme. There are some hoops to jump through; we’re going to see if it works
for other people, so we’re working closely with the Cayman Islands Film
Commission,” Mr. Carruthers said.

“The local actors will get work and
have experience working on a B movie in the Cayman Islands.”

The film makers plan to have the
zombie flick ready for release in the UK and US in October, in time for
Halloween, and to be selling it to the international TV market at MIPCON in Cannes,
also in October.

 “Provisionally, we’re looking at Saturday, 25
September for a screening in Cayman,” the director said.

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The Zombie Driftwood poster
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4 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds great! Really exciting to have a project like this based on the island, especially incorporating zombie locals, what a chance to get involved in something this exciting! Looking forward to the filming very much, I will be checking it out come June!

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  2. $5000 sounds a pretty good price for a share of this! Investing in this film is really a way to create a real buzz around cayman based filming, and more can only follow, after all the job cuts lately, something that brings this much interest to the island can only be good. Lets hope it’s the first of many!

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