Gangsters, Guns & Zombies!

Words by me. Pictures by Incidentally Bentley.

Even in Hammersmith, and even for me, it’s a little out of the ordinary to pop out of the office for tanmen soup only to end up agreeing to be a zombie in a film. But in for a noodle, in for an intestinal tract…or something like that…

Gangsters Guns and Zombies is a ‘ZomRomCom’ – an indie British film with a shoestring budget, being shot this Summer. It’s a collaborative project – the cast and crew giving their time and skills for free – and funded by family, friends and fans-in-waiting (find out how you can get involved here).

I happen to work in the same building as a friend of the producer, which is how Ben, Dave and I found ourselves driving around an industrial estate in Kent on a rainy Saturday night, looking for other potential undead. I can tell you for free that there are few things as disconcerting as meeting a car full of men down a deserted dirt track and having to wind down the window to ask “Zombies?” praying all the while you haven’t accidentally stumbled upon one of Kent’s most notorious dogging hotspots.

Luckily we hadn’t, but we were in the wrong industrial estate, so we joined the rapidly growing convoy of other lost extras and set off again. Following strangers around Northfleet, across a landscape of empty warehouses and broken down buses, Ben and I started to feel a little like we were in a Gregg Araki film, and then found ourselves behind this cab:

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This a Doom Generation reference *nods*

But then we found the gathering and once on set, director Matt Mitchell addressed the soon-to-be-undead crowd and we waited for make-up. The make-up team did an amazing job on some sixty extras in very little time, and I think you’ll agree we looked pretty damn awful when they’d finished with us!

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And then the piece de resistance: FAKE BLOOD. Fake blood is sticky and tasty and it gets EVERYWHERE. There is nothing delicate in the application. You just have to get stuck in. Literally:

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Suitably smeared and clotted, our first job was to chase an actor wearing nothing but a pair of pants and trainers, across a roundabout. Yes, chase. We are fast, enraged zombies, not the shuffling, groaning kind. I can almost hear the moist sound of Simon Pegg’s eyeballs rolling from here, and sorry Romero aficionados but quick zombies are scarier – am I right?? And yes, pants. Sprinting is not my forte, but it’s surprising how incentivised a lazy zombie can be by some perky buttocks.

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Making a movie is, by nature, a slow business, but there was a really nice vibe on set. In the down time, people got chatting and shared stories, coffee, food and smokes.

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Being covered in fake viscera and various types of dirt does not hamper my crisp chomping abilities.

We Tweeted and Facebooked and snapped pictures and made human pyramids.

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The next scene was a bigger-scale affair which involved sixty odd zombies chasing a taxi and multiple takes. I had to pity the two women in a car who seemed to have driven onto the estate by mistake only to be confronted by a horde of pale, shrieking nutjobs surrounding their car and dripping strawberry flavoured blood all over it, and nearly drove straight up the back of Dave’s parked car!

It’s a dangerous business, being a fast zombie. Running full pelt towards bright lights, moving vehicles, cameras and other fast zombies will inevitably lead to casualties. I saw at least three people stack it quite spectacularly, but recently reanimated corpses can’t be expected to have full control over their faculties, right?

And so it was, seven hours and several aching limbs later, we wrapped and made our way home for a well deserved breakfast beer and a nap. Hopefully we’ll be around for more filming next month, and a big thanks to everyone involved for giving us the opportunity to be part of something fun and different. Here’s hoping this little Brit flick will be a raging success.

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