Doc of the Dead was announced right before Comic-Con last month and promises to be a comprehensive tribute to zombie culture. The project is directed by Alexandre O. Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas) and he is off to a good start, with Simon Pegg and George Romero having already filmed segments for the documentary.
I recently had a chance to talk with Alexandre and learned more about the approach this documentary will take, additional people who will participate, their plan for an online extension of the project, and more:
There has been plenty of buzz for Doc of the Dead coming out of your recent appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con. Have you been happy with how your approach to the documentary been received?
Alexandre O. Philippe: Yeah, the great thing is that this is filling a void. The sense I’ve been getting from fans of zombie or zombie culture is that there is really the need for a proper documentary, especially for a culture that is so rich and dynamic. I’m getting a tremendous amount of support and we’re already getting submissions, so it’s been really exciting.
You previously mentioned that you had spoken with Simon Pegg and you’ll be talking to George Romero. After the announcement, did you have a number of people reaching out to you that wanted to be a part of this?
Alexandre O. Philippe: There are a lot of people that came up to me and are connected in one way, shape, or form to the culture. I have spoken personally to Max Brooks and he’s totally on board. We also have Greg Nicotero, from The Walking Dead, of course. He was super busy at Comic-Con, but we’re figuring out a time for an interview. I’m also hoping on to go on the set next season and do a little bit of filming there. In a few days, we go to Toronto to visit Mr. Romero, so we’re off a pretty good start so far.
It sounds like this documentary will focus more on zombie culture than on the history of zombie films. How much time will you focus on the early films versus what’s popular now?
Alexandre O. Philippe: We’re going to look at movies and their influence on the culture, but I do want to really focus on the pop culture aspect. There are these fans who really embrace the genre and made it this really vibrant and dynamic culture. Why in recent years has it gone viral? … no pun intended… That’s really the main thread of the film.
As a parallel thread, I want to explore the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. We’re going to have a little fun with that and push the envelope to step outside the normal realm of documentary filmmaking. I think it’s a really fun question to ponder.
It’s interesting looking at it from a pop culture point of view, because you don’t see the same thing with vampires. Twilight and vampires in general are really popular, but you don’t hear people talking about their vampire survival plans.
Alexandre O. Philippe: Exactly, we found a zombie survival store in Las Vegas…
Yeah, I saw that during a recent visit to Vegas. Did you hear about the Zombie Burger restaurant?
Alexandre O. Philippe: [Laughs] No, that’s pretty cool. I’ll have to check it out. I’m particularly excited about that zombie theme park project in Detroit. We’re looking to contact the guys there and follow the development, because it sounds pretty intense.
There are people that have said that zombies have reached a critical mass in pop culture, but I don’t feel like it has peaked yet. Is that something you were worried about when deciding whether or not to make the documentary?
Alexandre O. Philippe: I totally agree with you. I’ve been wanting to make this documentary for a little over three years now. In a way I’m glad I waited, because I feel like zombie culture is becoming super interesting now.
We haven’t hit PG-13 zombie teen romance movies…. yet [laughs]. Aside from the documentary itself, there will be a strong web presence. What can you tell me about that?
Alexandre O. Philippe: We’re looking at ways to make this something that will continue beyond just the documentary. Ninety minutes is great, but it’s very restrictive. When the culture evolves beyond the doc, we need to be able to update it without releasing a new version every year.
One of the ideas it to put together an online a museum with all of the submissions that are sent and will be sent. If 2 seconds of an animation are presented in the film, the full animation will be available on the website. Hopefully, it will be a way to look at and discuss the culture beyond the documentary itself.
I don’t know what shape this online presence will be in. I don’t think these will all be released before the film will be released, but maybe at the same time and beyond. The website will essentially become an extension of the film itself.
The documentary is in the very early stages and I know it’s a long process to put it all together. Are you still looking at a late 2013 release date or sometime in 2014?
Alexandre O. Philippe: 2014 is the plan right now. There are always things along the way that could slow down the process, but I think that is the right target date. Looking at our date and what we want to accomplish, I think that is a realistic time. However, expect our first trailer to come out really soon.
I want to thank Alexandre for taking the time to talk with me and expect more coverage of Doc of the Dead between now and its 2014 release. If you are interested in getting involved, they are actively seeking submissions. For more information, visit their official website and Facebook page at:
Original Project Announcement: The creators of the groundbreaking participatory documentary THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS are already hard at work on DOC OF THE DEAD—the definitive and most comprehensive tribute to zombie culture and fandom ever made. Shot and edited in a cinematically edgy, high-octane style, DOC OF THE DEAD will host a rich pop culture dialogue with zombie experts and celebrities, seek participation from YouTubers and indie filmmakers, and even investigate the possibility and ramifications of an actual zombie outbreak with sociologists, virologists, chemists, and members of the Zombie Research Society.
The Exhibit A Pictures triumvirate—Writer/Director Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer Kerry Deignan Roy, and Producer/DP Robert Muratore—teams up again with Editor Chad Herschberger and the multi award-winning post-production facility Milkhaus (Oscar winner SAVING FACE; Sundance winner CHASING ICE) to stamp their unique brand of entertainment and pop culture commentary on one of the most viral and enduring fan phenomena in recenthistory. This will also mark their first full-fledged collaboration with Geekscape’s own Jonathan London and Red Letter Media’s massively popular Mr. Plinkett—both of whom will contribute recurring, fictionalized segments to the film. In other words: expect plenty of fan service and gory surprises!
Principal photography for DOC OF THE DEAD will begin in the Fall of 2012, with key interviews/B-roll/fictionalized segments filmed by the Exhibit A crew, and additional segments concurrently produced by Geekscape and Red Letter Media. Post-production is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2013, with a completed film ready for delivery by Fall 2013. Crowdsourcing will be ongoing during the production and post-production periods. DOC OF THE DEAD will premiere in 2014.