On Being a Zombie

In January I was offered the opportunity to be in a movie about zombies. Of course I jumped at the chance to be in a horror film, since I’ve been watching them for as long as I can remember. Since this was my first real acting gig (besides theater and drama from high school), I had no idea what to expect.

Filming for the soon-to-be-released Independent Film titled “Somnambul Love” (which translates to Sleepwalking Love) took place in New Brunswick, which is about 2 hours from where I live. My friends Megan and Kurt came with me for the ride, as they were also a part of this film.

We got the location right on time, which is surprising since Megan and Kurt slept in, and we drove around for a while before we found a parking spot. I had to make Kurt park my car, since it was parallel parking only, and I have never parked in that manner. The only problem with that is Kurt cannot see very well and is therefore legally not supposed to be driving. So at first Kurt accidentally parked UP ON THE CURB. It was hilarious.

Once Kurt got the car parked correctly, Megan, Kurt, and I walked to the graveyard where filming took place. Shawn, the director/producer, was there in the graveyard, and he informed us that everyone else (“human” leads, make-up artists, special effects crew) was late. So while waiting for them to get there, we went to a nice coffee shop nearby. I wish I could remember the name of that cafÃ?©, because they were so nice for allowing us to hang out there in full zombie make-up. It was bitter cold outside, so the coffee shop was our only shelter. I left the girl behind the counter a huge tip.

When the make-up artist finally got there, she immediately went to work on my face. She did such a great job. Later the special effects guy applied some sort of white goop to my face to make it look like it was peeling. And then another make-up artist applied spirit gum and a syrup-like fake blood mixture to my cheek, to make it appear like there was a piece bitten off. Unfortunately, my face FELT like it was bitten (this stuff hurt like Hell!) so I had to wash most of it off. I later found out the substance applied was liquid latex, which I am allergic to. After getting my make-up redone, and waiting for about 20 other people to be made into zombies, filming began.

I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I won’t go into too much detail. Megan and I (as zombies) attack a man as he is trying to get into his car. I won’t disclose whether he gets away alive or not. Filming this scene was really fun, but it took a lot of patience as well, since we had to wait for pedestrians to walk by (which they often did) before we could resume filming again. Our “victim” later confessed to Megan and I that we had really scared him during that scene.

It felt great to see a man cower before a woman, even if it is a zombie woman. In so many films today, the woman is the victim, and you can tell it is from the stereotypical man’s perspective. The camera usually lingers on a woman’s body instead of her face. Photographs and films that could be innocent, take on a whole new flavor when viewed/photographed/filmed by the other gender (men). I was happy to be in a film that made me feel powerful, and did not put me in the role of the victim.

Kurt played one of the main zombies. He was offered the role because he is extremely tall (about 6’5”). Once Kurt was in full make-up, he looked pretty intimidating. Kurt was willing to do almost anything for this movie, even putting raw intestines (REAL intestines) in his mouth. I did not get to see that particular scene being filmed, because I was getting my make-up redone at the time. Kurt even suggested to the special effects guy that he go to a pet store and buy some grubs to put on him. I am so glad they didn’t do that, or Kurt would have had to find his own ride home. I don’t do worms.

My friends and I were in New Brunswick for most of the day. Even though I was numb from the cold, and consequently got sick from being outside for the better part of 9 hours in the middle of winter, it was such a positive experience. I can’t wait for Somnambul Love to be released. I would definitely participate in similar films in the future (although next time, hold the latex).

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