Ben Rhodes, Fanboy Comics Senior Contributor: You have called this movie a RedZomRomCom. What led you to invent this genre?
Steve J. Palmer: Yep, a phrase proudly coined by K. Harrison Sweeney himself. But, everyone supports its tongue-in-cheek nature 100%! The RedZomRomCom (Redneck Zombie Romantic Comedy) is a mixture of cult horror film meets romantic comedy meets the atmospheric/cultural humor found in period, country-fried, buddy comedies reminiscent of Smokey & the Bandit, Any Which Way You Can, and Hot Stuff...with just the right enough *touch* of Ivan Reitman-esque sensibilities. So, take a long toke on THAT pipe, America!
BR: Is there anything you can reveal about the plot?
SJP: Not too, too much, but what I can tell you is that this film (shooting this August-October in Wyoming) will take place literally 7-8 quick months after the Zombie Apocalypse hits the world. In a rushed (and rather sloppy) effort to find alternate fuels, governments commit to global drilling for natural gas at an unprecedented rate, only to accidentally release toxic fumes which cause the Zombie outbreak. Major metropolitan cities with the largest populations in the U.S. crumble almost instantly; however, Wyoming, which IS in fact the least populated state in the union, has enough time to build a wall around its borders...
(NOTE: Interesting FACT...back in February of this year, Wyoming state legislation signed into effect a "Doomsday Bill," in which if either a man-made or natural catastrophe were to hit globally, Wyoming would be able to declare its independence to immediately create and sustain its own currency, military, and fossil fuel/energy needs.)
That being said, once the wall is built, after some time (and not a lot from what's been already stated) people want to venture out in the hopes of communicating with others; for instance, the internet cannot go on indefinitely. This leads to inevitable "zombie interaction," which though terrifying at first, proves profitable in the long run. An example? The undead trained as manual labor, entertainment, etc. So, from there is where our story takes off. As far as other plot points, have people check out our website: www.fromthetrailertothegrave.com. Hey, I can't give away EVERYTHING. Harrison would have me tarred and feathered!
BR: Wyoming is obviously important to you. What is it about the state that makes it great for movies?
SJP: Wyoming has become important to ALL of us involved in the film. Wyoming offers unique geographical locations, like Devil’s Tower (which was used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) or Hell’s Half Acre (used in Starship Troopers), which would fit with this particular genre of film. Mr. Sweeney’s mission: greatly boost the film industry in the Cowboy State. One of the problems the state has faced regarding the film industry, however, is that past films that have been set in Wyoming’s great wide open (Brokeback Mountain, An Unfinished Life, Did You Hear about the Morgans?) ended up being shot in Wyoming stand-ins, like New Mexico and Canada. CANADA!! As a Wyoming native who grew up in Worland, K. Harrison Sweeney and his production company, Big Horn Samurai Sinema, want to change that. A production like ours, which plans on using local facilities, local actors (along with the L.A./N.Y.-based cast) could very well give the state's film council the boost it needs. Once the need is big enough, the future could bring stronger financial incentives, which is the PLAN.
BR: Music is an integral piece of the short film. Will it be as vital a part of the final version? How was the music chosen?
SJP: Harrison had a great way for choosing how the film's music would unfold. The short film is basically a music video for the song "Undead Lovers" from Wyoming Americana/folk musician Jalan Crossland. At the same time, the short film is based off the feature film's dream sequence. Going more into what I mentioned from the last question, Harrison is utilizing EVERYTHING "Wyoming," including the kick-a** music scene. Music being vital in this production is an understatement!
In essence, our feature From the Trailer to the Grave will be merely the first part in a planned (fingers crossed) trilogy. As the films go forward into an apocalyptic, western sci-fi future, the feel will become more stylized, more "steampunk," if you will. Harrison, with all this in mind, decided to adjoin both the L.A. music scene with the Cowboy State's. What will surely culminate into sweet, sweet awesomeness will be a Wyoming-based soundtrack, with a film score from L.A.'s very own Steampunk-esque band The Peculiar Pretzelmen, melding early 20th century blues with rag-rock!
BR: Is there anything in Undead Lovers that eagle-eyed viewers should look for? Any references or hints we should pay attention to?
SJP: You mean like playing it backwards to see which Beatle is REALLY dead?? Hmmmm...you'll have to wait and see. *wink*
BR: What, if anything, was the role of Red Dead Redemption in bringing the cast together?
SJP: Well, I'll tell you, that game was such a cool experience, it was hard NOT to make friends from it! Now, keep in mind, the events and characters of our zombie film are in NO WAY related or connected to the events and characters of Red Dead Redemption. That being said, it's true that 5 of the main actors in Red Dead are 5 of the main actors from From the Trailer to the Grave. One of those being Harrison himself, who wrote and is producing this film, with that very idea in mind from the start. I mean, let's face it; when it comes to show business, making friends and connections you GENUINELY like and trust is a huge plus! Look at Adam Sandler or Kevin Smith's films, or the classic gems of Mel Brooks or Christopher Guest; use the talented people you know and trust for the smoothest results - over and over! Now, certainly, there's so much more than RDR alumni in this movie. EVERYONE involved is connected to Harrison in SOME way, whether through L.A. sketch comedy circles, the v.o./mo-cap community, or the Wyoming music scene. Through Harrison, we strongly believe in bridging gaps, and 'taking care of our own.'
BR: What drew Harrison to this style of film? The short is gleefully over the top, with a glorious low-fi look. Can we expect this in From the Trailer to the Grave?
SJP: Harrison loves the feel of '70s-'80s horror camp/comedy. Though not a self-admitted zombie "fan," he really doesn't see this as a zombie film, so much as it's a romantic comedy/social commentary that just HAPPENS to have zombies dropped 'into' it. A HUGE inspiration for both the short AND feature versions of the film was Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. Harrison is purposely going for the grindhouse, cult classic feel. Also 'peppered' throughout the movie will be just enough 'hints' and clever pop-culture references to keep fans of the aforementioned genre happy as pigs in mud.
I want to thank you cool cats here at Fanboy Comics for helping shed more light onto our cool project! One more note to your readers, our Undead Lovers is currently in first place in the Wyoming Short Film Contest, but we're not going to underestimate our competition! We need all you fans out there to click here to vote.
It only takes 2 quick minutes to create a voting account, then once you're redirected via email link, find our film by searching under the "top rated" category. You get ONE vote, but feel free to comment as much as you'd like. The grand prize is $25,000, and we want to add that atop our current budget. On a sadder note, one of our #1 campaigners (Brittany Robinson of reddead.wikia.net) passed away this week due to a long illness. If we win, Big Horn Samurai Sinema will donate a portion of the money to help her family offset her medical bills. Like I said before, we take care of our own. Brittany certainly was, indeed.
So, don’t forget to check out the trailer at the above link and vote!