After the spectacular success of our Phase 7 Indiegogo fundraising campaign, we jumped right into filming our Zombie Dream Sequence at Millennium Point in Birmingham on Sunday 22nd November.
I’d already set up the location and the team at Millennium Point had been beyond helpful and were willing to let us do pretty much what we wanted (and it was a lot!). Our DOP Gordon had seen the place and worked out how he was planning to light it, so all I had left to do was assemble the cast, crew and find a few zombies. Quite a few in fact...!
As we blasted our campaign out on Twitter, Co-Producer Mark Robbins and I were delighted to see that we’d attracted the attention of quite a few zombie groups including Zombiehire.co.uk who were sharing our Facebook posts and Tweets like crazy. Over a period of about three weeks, our zombie numbers started to rise, and when the fantastic “What’s Up Brum”, started to help us on Twitter, the number of people shot up.
The 22nd started well, and the first scenes we shot were with Sophie Anderson, who plays Samantha. We had a few shots of her entering the cinema and then causing havoc during the screening of a zombie film. As ever, Sophie was on fire and delivered a storming performance.
As we were doing this, our fantastic production manager, Karen Jenson-Clark was busy organising things for the mammoth afternoon shoot which was going to involve the main cast and 80+ zombies. We’d assembled a team of 4 make up people headed by Gaby Hunt, the films main make-up artist and were blessed to have Kelly Taylor, Sue Kent, Clive Double and Stacey Green who worked like crazy to make everyone up into zombies.
As make up went into overdrive, our other leading cast members arrived: Simon Haycock (Tom), Julie Hoult (Harriet) and Danny Steele (Floyd).
Then we set about shooting some smaller scenes that didn’t involve all 80 zombies. Instead we took a small team of Hero Zombies with us and began shooting.
The first scene was were Tom rushes into the building as he’s being chased by the zombies. Here he meets Harriet and Samantha. Right from the start, Simon, Julie, Danny and Sophie nailed it and their performances were electric.
We then went right to the top of the building and shot the scene where Tom holds back a hoard of zombies as Samantha discover the truth of why they are there.
For this shoot, I’d engaged the talents of Ben Thompson, a Steadicam cameraman. This enabled us to get some superb tracking shots and run with the camera which added an exciting energy to the shoot. It also meant that our DOP, Gordon Hickie, could take a step back from operating the camera and concentrate on the lighting with Sebastian Kudanowski, our gaffer. The results of both the flying camera and the dramatic lighting were superb!
Once we’d shot the smaller scenes, we invited all of the extras onto the set and began shooting our mass zombie scenes. I’d made the decision early on that our zombies were not going to shuffle along in a Michael Jackson Thriller style, but ours were going to run – fast! These were infected zombies rather than the living dead style zombies.
The first shot was of the zombies breaking through the glass doors and pouring down the large steel staircase. For this we mounted the camera onto the Steadicam and had Ben running with the group, first following them and then running ahead of them with the camera facing backwards. This worked like a dream and we got some really spectacular shots. We did this a few times focusing on our lead actors and then the zombies who were chasing them. The scene involved the zombies running down the large steel staircase, across a large open floor space and then up a large single escalator. For the first few takes we had all 80+ zombies running up the escalator, but soon realised that the escalator wasn’t built to take such a large crowd all at once, so for the other takes we just had the hero zombies and the female zombies running up the escalator, which worked fine.
Then we moved to the concrete staircase outside the building for the opening scene where Tom is first confronted by the hoard of attacking zombies.
Gordon and Sebastian back lit the scene to make the most of the shadows and create something quite terrifying. Once we brought the crowds out and started shooting the scene we were getting some fantastic long shadows and silhouettes. The car park at the top of the stairs was bathed in blue light too which helped to create an amazing colourful depth to each shot.
We required some shots for the sequence we’d filmed in the morning for the zombie movie Samantha is watching in the cinema. So for this I’d engaged the talents of Rudolph Barrow, an actor I’d been keeping an eye on for a while. He was to play the Action Hero that takes on the zombies and had a couple of lines that were vital to the narrative of the film. We were originally going to give him a machine gun, but after the events in Paris, we decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea, so we made him a martial artist instead. A much better idea!
I asked Rudy if he would be okay to choreograph a fight sequence. He took up the challenge with relish and four friends of mine enthusiastically agreed to be his victims. So while we were off filming the first crowd scene, Rudy, Martin Bennett, Matthew Hoyles, Brian Dunn and Chris Burrows got to work. After a few hours they showed me the fruits of their labour and I was blown away by the results.
We took the guys outside and they performed the fight at the bottom of the concrete staircase and we had the crowds of zombies shuffling around them. Ben followed the action with the Steadicam and it worked like a dream. I can’t thank Rudy enough for making this scene really special!
Finally, we brought the zombie crowd back inside and shot some scenes of them running along corridors, up some more escalators and a few insert shots that were required.
We wrapped at 10pm and set off for the evening. The atmosphere of the day had been incredible. My wife Angie and her family had worked hard to feed everyone and ensure the tea and coffee was flowing and they did an amazing job. Ian Dangerfield and has daughter’s boyfriend Brett, had been busy taking stills and shooting the behinds the scenes footage.
Apart from the wonderful acting and great shots we got over the day, the thing that really impressed me was the amount of good will and genuine love for the movie. The people that came to this shoot were so enthusiastic, lovely and friendly. People had travelled up from London and from across the country to help which just made the day really special. The crew were just brilliant and all worked so hard.
For me, it was probably the most enjoyable shoot we’ve had so far and I genuinely can’t wait for you to see just how fantastic these scenes are and how well they sit within the story of kaleidoscope Man.
Thank you all SO much for helping this come together – we couldn't have done it without you.
Kaleidoscope Man Phase 7 on Indiegogo can still accept contributions. Loads of great incentives for backing us still available: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kaleidoscope-man-phase-7/x/395003#/