When I said I was starting a blog I did intend for it to just be about food, drink and fun around the Black Country but I do occasionally do a little filming and one of my friends said my days as a zombie would make for an interesting read, I hope he is right.
Basically I wanted to be in a movie and about 2 years ago I saw an advert asking for extras in a zombie hoard. I applied and as they wanted quantity rather than quality I ended up in a big budget film that is still in the production process (it’s called Red Con 1 if you are interested dear reader)
So Sunday I had my alarm set for 6.00am, Sunday, 6.00am, let that sink in! At 6.15 Mr. Red and I both announced our retirement from filming as we cleared the car windscreen. Up and out in 15 minutes as there was no point in putting my glam face on, no point in jumping in a shower beforehand, I was going to be a bloody zombie all day and that is dirty work.
We arrived in good time, the roads are suprisingly quiet before 8.00am on Sundays and we had an 8am call. It’s not good form to be late so we made our way to the Green room, a warm and dry space in a gym above a shop, with toilets, tea and coffee making facilities etc and McDonald’s breakfasts appeared alongside coffee and we all began catching up with old friends and getting to know new friends.
By 9am I was in make up, I love seeing how different make up artists interpret ‘zombie’ this time I had latex wounds painted onto my face, after drying the latex with a hairdryer they were painted to look juicy and bloody, clothes were dirtied, contact lenses in and we headed to the actual set.
The photo above is of Mr. Red having a squib attached to his neck so that when he was shot by a survivor his brains would splat all over the side of the car, a few practice takes and the director decided that to get best effect Mr. Red had to be on his hands and knees so as the squib sent blood and gore all over the car.
The set was a long abandoned building with some ceiling missing, incredibly atmospheric and a great find for a zombie film but also filthy dirty, not least because it had flooded the day previous and someone had been sleeping rough there. It was pretty grim but perfect for an apocalyptic movie set.
Lunch was provided in the green room, a rather nice homemade lasagne and we changed our outfits. The sweater I had been wearing I passed on to a fellow zombie actor friend or a zombuddy as she always calls us. I pulled out another old sweater from my bag of tricks and a beanie hat which I borrowed from another actor, Mr. Red changed and presto we were new zombies for new scenes.
We had been booked to finish at 8.00pm but managed to get away at 7.00pm and home by 8.45pm. It’s a long day.
So what is it that attracts normally sensible people to get up at 6.00am to lay in mud and filth on a Sunday when they could be at home enjoying nice things? For me I love the idea that maybe one day I will be a background zombie in a film that will be massive and people will watch it long after I’ve been forgotten about. I love playing at zombies, they are and always have been my favorite movie monster, and I love the camaraderie on set. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s very interesting seeing shots set up, stunts performed and zombies dancing or laughing, everyone is incredibly friendly and Mr. Red declared he was having so much fun he couldn’t wait for next time, so much for retirement!
As I said, we got home just before 9pm. The rest of the crew would be working late into the night but for us it was a hot shower to get the blood (it’s made with golden syrup) out of my hair followed by a long hot soak in the tub to try to restore some feeling into my cold bones. By 10pm I was tucked up in bed, an unfathomablely early night for me but it really is quite exhausting standing about in cold and wet all day. My pedometer told me I had walked over 9km. Not a huge distance but quite enough.
I wonder if anyone involved in Nosferatu which was filmed in 1921 and released in 1922 ever thought that their image would still be being seen almost a century later. I have too been immortalised as a digital zombie, although I have played other characters in the past. I am an audience member in a crowd scene of a boxing match in Jawbone, I was a soldier in Spacedogs but my usual guise is as a zombie. I was seen at Cannes this year in The Day after Yesterday and Birmingham film festival in Still and I was an adoptive mum then a zombie in a short film called ZAP.
Being an extra is something I’d recommend to anyone who gets the chance, as I really do love it.