Tuesday, August 3, 2010

DEAN, DIRECTOR OF ZOMBIE PUPPETS - A BADASS INTERVIEW



DEAN, DIRECTOR OF ZOMBIE PUPPETS - A BADASS INTERVIEW
By: Mediasaurus Rex

ZOMBIE PUPPETS is an upcoming movie that summarizes itself like this on the OFFICIAL WEBSITE:

Once upon a time… the puppet town of “ Crystal Meadow” was attacked by the living dead! Faced with certain death, the cuddly puppets found help from Rags the Bunny, an outlaw who lived in the nearby puppet slums of “Pistol Ghetto”.

Together they learned life lessons, sang songs, killed zombies, and uncovered the cause of the Zuppet Apocalypse.


After hearing about this project from various dark corners, I did what needed to be done. I tracked down the director, Dean and hit him with questions that I and some members of the Mediasaurs forums had come up with. What follows are some of the most interesting responses I have ever gotten in an interview session.




The concept of ZOMBIE PUPPETS is both horrifying and hilarious. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of its genesis?

Mexican Food and Angst. I was eating a meal with my family at Cocina Del Charro, a local taqueria, and I was basically ignoring everyone, racking my brain for a film idea that would work on a low budget, would be something I would want to see, something other people would want to see, and a film that some eccentric dude of questionable talent (that would be me) could make.

Bad idea after bad idea kept coming, and I got pissed (not drunk, unfortunately). Suddenly, an image popped into my head—it was Grover (from SESAME STREET, of course), his eye hanging from its socket and blood dripping from his lips. He snarled, “brains” and then bit my arm. I basically did a “spit take” with a mouthful of iced tea and announced to my father that I knew what movie I was going to make next, ZOMBIE PUPPETS.

My whole family started LOL’ing, and I went to work.

The promo art at the ZOMBIE PUPPETS website is fantastic, so much so that it could stand alone. Will there be any sort of graphic novel/comic book tie-in with the project?

Thanks, I am glad you like the artwork. It would be a crime not to make an outlet for it. PREPARE for some epic moves in this arena. The design team is experimenting with some transmedia web comic applications, and a graphic novel or comic book is definitely in the near future.

It looks like ZOMBIE PUPPETS will be an R-rated film. Is that correct? Can we expect splatter, profanity, and adult themes? Is it horror? Is it comedy? Will it be for teenagers? Kids?

R-rated, and more splatter profanity and adult themes than you can shake a stick at. It’s primarily a comedy, but it plays on horror clichés, and let’s be honest . . . teenagers and kids are going to see it, and love it, just like I saw ROBOCOP and every 80s video nasty when I was 9 years old. THANKS DAD! (Seriously, parental guidance strongly suggested!)

The film is also pretty sophisticated in how it blends the puppet and horror worlds together, so I hope audiences are both shocked and delighted by the effort we put into the screenplay and concept.

ZOMBIE PUPPETS is made for adults, primarily those adults who remember being kids, watching all the classic Puppet Movies of the 80s, and growing up with HE-MAN and other branded entertainment.

Hopefully everyone finds the idea of innocent puppet animal characters trying to deal with serious life and death issues—in song—freaking hilarious.

The concept and filming of such a project must be baffling. Where are you going to film it? Are you making the puppets? Are you having someone else do that? How many sets do you plan to create?

Puppets are a beast to deal with. Even getting a puppet to like, walk across the room takes 1-3 puppeteers to coordinate, so it takes forever. Also I have no background in puppets, so what the hell am I doing?! LOL. Basically, it’s hard as hell but totally worth it! I mean, if I wanted easy, I would have become a doctor, or a chemist.

The puppets are being designed by a team of really cool dudes out in the Philippines who are just completely the right guys for the job. The puppets are being built by the same dudes behind the Broadway musical “Ave Q,” and we will shoot the whole movie on location in the slums of Manila (Philippines) (sort of like CITY OF GOD meets THE MUPPET SHOW!) and on a few sound stages for the more YO GABBA GABBA style stagey sets.

All the casting /voice work /and some post production will occur state-side out of Los Angeles.

Can you give us some background on James the producer and yourself and how you came to work together on this project?

James and Dean both went to middle school together and were a couple of “brains” in the GATE class. (Gifted and Talented Education!), but in high school they sort of went their own ways. James smoked a ton of weed, lifted weights for 8 years, and became like 200 pounds (he’s now more reasonably sized), and Dean got straight D’s and became a competitive break dancer.

In their 20s James became a serial entrepreneur doing a bunch of tech nonsense, and Dean went to San Diego State and got a film degree. They re-united via the cliché power of Facebook sometime in 2009.

I (Dean) basically convinced James to jump into the film business by telling him it would help him get chicks. The joke was on me because James totally looks like a vampire and has no trouble getting chicks. :(

This is not the WHOLE STORY, but seriously, who cares about James and Dean?

ZOMBIE PUPPETS has "cult hit" written all over it, but what kind of movie aficionado do you think will be attracted to it?

I would say if you’re a fan of the retro 80s puppet movies, the MUPPETS, or any contemporary “hip” children’s programming (like YO GABBA GABBA), you will find something to like.

If you’re into zombies you will also find much to like.

At the end of the day ZOMBIE PUPPETS is being made for the early adapters, but I foresee it becoming the type of film about which a friend goes, “OMG, you haven’t seen this shit yet! Holy shit, get over here right now and check this shit out!”

Also, if this movie can get a young man laid because he reveals that his DVD collection contains ZOMBIE PUPPETS, and the girl goes “YOU ARE TEH AWESOME” and lays him, just like Sam from QUANTUM LEAP, I can finally leap home.

WE ARE CHANGING LIVES HERE!


I am sure that you have already heard comparisons to Jackson's MEET THE FEEBLES. How would you define the differences between PUPPETS and FEEBLES?

We clearly stand in the shadow of FEEBLES -- I saw FEEBLES in the 90s via bootleg VHS acquired from the comic-con, so I was very aware of what Jackson had accomplished with that movie.

My favorite part of FEEBLES is the DEER HUNTER section in the middle, which I always thought was the most entertaining and successful section of the movie, so any similarities will reside there.

With that being said, the movies couldn’t be more different. ZP plays more with the clichés of the horror genre and really tries to paint the picture of a utopian, Disney-esque world that is turned upside down.


How big is the voice cast going to be?

Probably between 6-10, with multiple characters being played by the same actor. As we finalize casting, I will keep you updated. I may even have a surprise or two.

Will there be any moments (as in SESAME STREET) where humans actually interact with the puppets? Will there be any "body-suit" puppets like Sweetums or Big Bird?

Yes! There is one human in the film, a woman with cat ears who plays “Polly Esther” the cat (the female lead). Oh, we gots body suits! Unity Corn the Unicorn and two top secret characters that are the bee’s knees :)

In regards to production value, are you aiming towards THE MUPPET SHOW or more in a Sid and Marty Krofft direction? Or do you have a different ideal?

You are right in the ball park here. To be lame I will say 80% MUPPETS and 20% Sid and marty Krofft.

I am definitely going for nostalgia here and not trying to re-invent the puppet genre. The fun to be had with this concept is taking what is familiar and placing it in a totally off the wall situation.

When can we expect a trailer?

Expect a trailer to ignite teh internetz Jan 2011.

How big is the budget for this project?

I am hoping to finish the whole project for well under six figures . . . but I might lose my mind and blow the farm on some crazy puppet epic.


(The above pic is of Rags, the star of ZOMBIE PUPPETS)



ZOMBIE PUPPETS OFFICIAL WEBSITE



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