Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Zombie Day

One of the cooler things that I have done in my short life (for a given value of cool) happened on Friday and since so often this poor blog (yes, I have decided to anthopomorphize my blog as a hungry, bored little child. run with it.) has to make do (I know that I have too many parentheticals, but did you know that until a few weeks ago, I always thought that was "make due". I am full of shame) with random musings or angst (or random angsty musings!), I decided that I would tell you all about it.

So that was all one sentence, setting aside the fact that it ignored all the decent rules of grammar. Huh.

Anyway, on Friday I was a zombie. And not just in the ordinary recreational sense. I was an official zombie extra for the first Israeli post-apocalyptic zombie movie. (Sidebar: do not see this movie. It's going to be entirely in English, to appeal to the international audience, and it is unbelievably proud of the fact that its zombies are not reanimated corpses but ordinary humans who have been struck with some biological weapon that makes them feral, vicious, and super-powerful. Bless their sweet souls, they seem convinced that this is groundbreaking. And one can't even hope for classic cult B-movie because it doesn't seem to have any sense of humor about itself. Here is their website. You'll see what I mean.)

Anyway, it all started a couple weeks ago when my roommate heard about a zombie training day for people to learn how to be zombies so as to be able to extras in the movie. Zombie training rocked. We learned how to snarl and claw and maul and run and get shot and fall and roll and limp and be electrocuted. On concrete, too. So that was pretty awesome. Then we told them the days that we'd be willing to come (for me, days when my classes don't take attendance, and don't get me started on the fact that I am a Master's student and still having classes that call roll) and off we went.

Then Friday morning, at around nine, they called me up and asked if I'd be willing to come in right away. A bus, a train, and a ride-from-someone-from-the-crew later, and I was in the mall parking garage where they were doing the shooting. I got there around 10:30.

What happened next was 3-4 hours of standing around. When I arrived they costumed me up and then spent the next hour or so being re-costumed. Every so often one person in charge would wander by and criticize the outfit and the person costuming me would mumble and find something else and have me change into that. Fortunately, they were responsive to my expressed desire for nothing too revealing. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another, my outfit translated into "Seminary Girl Gone Feral"- the inevitable tiered, floor-length denim skirt and a white t-shirt covered by a long, black, hooded sweater/jacket. Every time I got a new costume, I stood around in it for several minutes having them dust it up with various colors and types of dust they had. (It was actually pretty cool- they were like a mesh floor bag of dust or something).

After the costuming, we stood around for a long time. Then we got our glowing red contacts put in. Then we stood around for a long time. I should mention that there were only 5-6 zombies, so it wasn't like I was standing around while they were working with other people. We were all just standing. Then we got our make-up, which in this particular case meant that we were squirted, painted, smeared, and generally soaked in a corn syrup-water-food coloring blend. It was pretty cool, actually and a lot disgusting, particularly as it got into my hair, making it impossible to detach my hair from my neck or my shirt. 

So then we stood around for a bit more inside the parking garage. Then we went to stand around outside, to be ready for the shoot. Then it started to rain, so we went back inside. Gripping stuff. Eventually, we actually did the shot, which was literally 15 seconds during which the principals run into their car and the zombies chase the car. We did the take several times, but mostly because they kept changing their opinions about where the zombies should come from. I can well imagine that they were having a hard time figuring out how to make six people look like a zombie horde. (yeah, like I said, z-movie territory). Still, the whole thing took about a half an hour. Then they had us do another shot of running directly at a hand-held camera. Then we were done. I'm guessing no more than 30 seconds worth of footage.

Then it was time for lunch, but more importantly, it was 3:30 and I was getting antsy about shabbat. They had promised me that they would send me home by 3:00, which of course I didn't take seriously, but time was a factor. So while people were eating lunch I hovered around being nervous. I also ate a pita, since I didn't want to bother anyone with asking whether the catering was kosher.

Then one of the other extras wandered by and told me that the director had said that he was done with us and we could de-make-up. There was an entertaining bout of cleaning up the upper half of one's body, including most of the hair, in a portable-bathroom sink, but I eventually got enough to be able to ship out.

Almost as soon as I left the bathroom, it turned out that they actually wanted us for another shot. People were entertainingly annoyed at the director. The lady in charge (I have no idea what her real role was) asked me if I would be okay with costuming and make-upping up again. I looked apologetic and mentioned the sabbath thing.

It was, actually, incredible how instantly she accepted that and started reacting to it. Immediately, she sent somebody else to get made up, and recruited a crew member to give me a ride back to the bus station, with the immortal words "One of the zombies is shomeret shabbat. Hurry!" which are words that should be said more in this world. And so, hair mostly covered in corn syrup, torso covered in blood and ditto, I made it to my shabbat destination with a couple of hours to spare. And that is the story of my zombieness. I leave you with this picture. Guess which one is me:

Huh. I really don't particularly enjoy blogging life happenings. I mean not anti, but it's just a bit dull. Good to know.


David said...

I read a human interest piece in a newspaper about a man whose job was being a zombie extra. Not just in one movie, but in all the zombie movies that came out. He had fallen upon hard times, as the zombie movie craze had slowed down.

Tobie said...

Wow. Although it would be interesting to compare the different experiences, I suppose. That's quite a specialization. He couldn't branch out to other roles? Vampires are pretty big these days.

e-kvetcher said...

playing zombies and mummies definitely not as exciting as werewolves and vampires. can't imagine a leading lady role for a zombie... but hey, it's a start.

Benjamin E. said...

Haha - the synopsis on the website is great. They go ahead already and lay it all out for you - not just the details, but the analysis of them - just in case you were going to miss any of the symbolism, themes, or parallels. Wouldn't want that.