In a prior article, I wrote about my experiences asking people in costume to participate in a Dear Zombies letter at the 2011 New York ComicCon. Well, a week later it was time for the Asbury Park Zombie Walk and the experiences differed somewhat. At the ComicCon, cosplayers are there to be seen and photographed so a stranger engaging them in conversation is not as surprising as someone on a bus opening up a conversation. More people agreed to be filmed than didn’t and I was expecting the same success rate at the zombie walk. I was wholly unprepared for the enthusiastic responses.
Maybe it was the dizzying scent of liquid latex, maybe it was the alcohol or perhaps it was a shared understanding and appreciation of the zombie. Whatever the reason, people were happy and willing to let their zombified selves be filmed without even hearing the full pitch for the Dear Zombies concept. Of all the people I asked, I only had one who was camera shy. I had a thirty second elevator pitch prepared to perk up some enthusiasm for a Dear Zombies letter and before I could finish almost everyone I asked agreed. This time around, I didn’t have to come up with something for them to say. Zombies can’t speak, after all. They just needed to groan and we could fill in the captions later.
Doors at the zombie walk open around mid-day. That’s far too early to expect people to be in full zombie make-up, yet there they were. I attended a panel discussion involving several cast members from the classic Night of the Living Dead that concluded with a contest for the best impersonation of line “They’re coming to get you, Barbara.” moderated by none other than Russ Streiner (Johnny), who played Barbara’s ill-fated brother. Throughout the panel, I had been distracted by a man in a life-sized hot dog outfit who had obviously been caught utterly unprepared during the zombie apocalypse. If I was going to only ask one person, this was it. As you can see in our third release of Dear Zombies, he did agree. Next up was a recently married couple, also recently turned. They were quite enthusiastic and happy to be a part of it.
Filming conditions inside did pose a challenge. The acoustics and lighting were less than ideal, but we did make a go of it. The convention center is situated on a boardwalk overlooking the ocean. It was an unseasonably warm fall day and plenty of zombies were out enjoying the not-so-fresh air and sunshine. I quickly found that, if they had a beer in hand, they were easy to talk into a filming.
Turns out, I’m not the only one who had the same idea. There was an independent film crew out on the boardwalk filming their seventh (yet to be released) installment to their zombie web series, Dead Road and yours truly took part as zombie fodder.
I’d gotten all the Dear Zombies letters I was going to get. By early evening, the official start of the walk portion of the zombie walk was getting ready. For a small fee that went to charity you could be zombified. Well, when in undead Rome shamble as the zombies do or, in this case, as the Israelis do in the zombie walk in Tel Aviv.
The footage had been captured, but it doesn’t turn into the end product by itself. Here’s the final edit and in our next installment, Sanj will spill his guts on how it got there.