Command Z The Making of a Zombie Epic
In October 2010, with a two hundred dollar budget, five aspiring journalists, set out to make a short-film for the ages. As first-year broadcast journalism students at BC I T they were required to write, shoot and edit what is called a “fun feature” a short movie that incorporated the wide variety of storytelling techniques learned during the first semester. Having screened countless examples of fun features from past classes of BCIT Broadcast Journalism students, it quickly became apparent to the group what they didn’t want to do. They didn’t want to do a straight spoof of a classic film or tv show, like many of their peers chose to do. They wanted to tell a story that would make people laugh, squirm in their seat, and perhaps even cry. They wanted to take a story that could fill a two-hour feature, and crunch it down into one rip-roaring ten minute experience. With this goal established, the planning stage went into full effect. Scripts had to be written, equipment secured, shooting schedules, make-up, special effects and many other aspects of production had to be procured and scheduled. Here is an excerpt from the original project proposal: P roduction ⇒ We plan on completing filming by November 12th allowing at least two weeks to spend editing. This will also allow for re-shoots if necessary. Post-P roduction ⇒ It has been learned from past experience that editing can and will take up the majority of project time. We look to make this process as smooth as possible and will allow adequate time. We plan to have a final cut of the production finished by November 22nd.
As is often the case with lavish productions none of these deadlines were met. Whether it was a case of scheduling conflicts among group members, botched shots, re-shoots, audio problems, or in-fighting amongst group members. The idea for the untitled zombie project, which later became Command Z, was the brainchild of screenwriter extraordinaire Mitch Pollock, here is a rare never before seen copy of his original e-mail pitch to the rest of the group members: So I had an idea. Now it's just an idea. But I think it could be done easily, with a fair amount of humour and suspense, and I'm sure nobody else would think of it. Plot: The five of us are stranded at the Broadcast center @BCIT because a zombie apocalypse has taken over Vancouver and the world. We have holed ourselves up in the radio station and find it our duty to continue broadcasting for any survivors out there and the hope that we might one day be rescued. Unbeknownst to us, a single unseen zombie has infiltrated our broadcast center and begins to take us out one at a time. The suspense builds until only one of us is left. The short film climaxes with our last hero being cornered in a control room and the big REVEAL is that the zombie that has been taking us out is actually Bill, or Frank, or whoever, in FULL zombie makeup. The film ends with the zombie killing our last hero. While the finished product didn’t recreate the exact scenario Mitch originally pitched, the framework and ideas were in place for what would be an award winning feature. Several days were spent filming. Very long hours Command Z wasn’t a spoof or a parody of zombie apocalypse film, but an homage to the genre, as well as other hor ror, comedy and action films of the past. Command Z was influenced by numerous film and television programs, some of the most notable examples are: Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Matt Groening’s The Simpsons, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Both versions of Dawn of The Dead
and Jim Cameron’s Aliens.