Hello All, Kirk here, aka Movie Junkie TO, with another interview. This time I got to sit down with the cast of the Canadian horror comedy A Little Bit Zombie. The following is my chat with cast members Kristopher Turner, Shawn Roberts and Crystal Lowe. I was also able to sit down with director Casey Walker which should show up on the site soon enough.
Movie Junkie (MJ) – Thanks for sitting down with me today guys. I really enjoyed the film when I saw it earlier this year. I wanted to ask a few questions about how you made the film. First off, one of my favorite parts of the film is the use of practical effects over CGI in most situations, I can think of one particular scene involving vomit, Crystal. I wondered if you guys could talk about how it helped your performances and the decision to go with the practical effects to begin with.
Kristopher Turner (KT) – For me, having dealt with a lot of the fluids that come out of my mouth or splash on my face or whatever, it’s a movie that deals a lot with the sensory world. We’re putting a human through the zombie experience, yet leaving him with the conscious brain to take it all in. So to be able to work in that sensory world of having gross things is way better having something that’s real and an actual effect. It’s a movie that’s got a lot of heart and to have things that are real just speaks to that so much better.
Shawn Roberts (SR) …and budget constraints had something to do with why we had to go with real effects. I mean it’s a low budget independent film that we shot here in Canada and Casey’s got an eye for effects. He knows what he can work with and what we need the computer for, and basically he wanted to use as much on the day real sort of props and liquids as we could.
Crystal Lowe (CL) – That vomit scene you mention was the second shot that I ever did for the movie so that really broke it in, once you get puked on in front of everyone they pretty much love you going forward because there’s nothing else I can do that’s worse. Casey thought it would be hilarious to keep the puke coming in the third take, so it did. I was like “c’mon Casey you’ve got the shot “and his response was repeatedly “just wait, hold on one more second” and from that moment I realized what kind of set it was going to be. It was the most fun I’ve had on a movie set ever.
MJ – Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun filming this, could you talk a bit about what appears to be a tight knit cast and crew.
CL – Close is an understatement, that’s the thing when you find a script that you love and when you find a crew that is invested because they read the script and they know what it can be. Nobody was bitching, nobody was complaining, we were there for 14 hours days and it didn’t matter because we were all happy to be there. We knew what the outcome was so it really made us tight as a cast and crew. And as a cast we were all in Sudbury with only each other, so we barbecued together every weekend and that became our life for a month, it was really cool.
MJ – Sounds like what any independent director would die for to have on set. I know for Casey this was long process to get to screen, up to 6 years. What stage of the process did you guys become involved?
SR – I think I was about 5 months out before we went to camera that I originally heard about the script and the countdown happened. I had a conversation with Casey on the phone after which I was like “alright you sound like an awesome dude, I wanna hang out with you let’s shoot a movie”. So we’ve been now 2 ½ half years into it.
KT– Ahh one and a half.
SR – Whatever, seems like a long time.
CL – I had actually been given the script by my agent almost a year before production I think. My agent gave it to me to read and told me “this production wants to offer this to you, I think you should take a look at it” so I did. After I read it I told him “you gotta get me on this movie, this is such a great script”. I love the script and I loved Tina because she was so crazy. It took a while, about 8 months, then all of the sudden my agent called me back and told me my flight was booked and I was leaving for set, it was so long I had forgotten about the project! That said I was very excited that it came through.
MJ – I wanted to ask about this fantastic vehicle behind us here, the converted ambulance to zombie killing machine: Painkiller. How was it to have this fantastic prop on set?
KT – It’s great when you are making a movie with real props, it feels more like you’re in a movie, you’re not in a studio, you’re actually in it. I mean we were getting eaten alive by real black flies and mosquitoes. We had a real giant zombie killing machine named Painkiller behind us in the shot, the real effects allow you to feel connected to the process that way.
SR – And now being out in the public I think having a giant zombie mobile brings over everybody cause they want the check out the truck “oh there’s a movie here too cool we’ll check that out”. You know it’s good marketing.
CL – Exactly, it changes things, makes it real. You know it’s funny because I have been quoting this movie a lot lately, but Labyrinth is one of my favorite all time films and I went to see it again just recently. As I watched the puppeteering in that I thought if we had made that now it would have been all CGI, and I don’t know if it would have had the same magic as it held then. That’s why I love the mosquito in our film, because it’s a puppet. I prefer to work with that cause Jim Henson and those puppets look real, I mean they don’t look like CGI creations, they look like real little beings and I kinda wish that we would go back to that a little bit.
MJ – Now we must talk a bit about the man himself, Stephen McHattie. It must be a little intimidating to know this man is going to walk on and attempt to steal every scene right out from under you?
CL – Here’s the thing with Stephen McHattie, he doesn’t try to steal every scene, he just walks on set and steals it. It’s not an effort on his part, he just walks on and does what he does. That man is an old school cowboy, I’d never met an old school cowboy until I met him, he’s like the Marlboro Man. And he was really amazing and very generous with me, so I’d ask him questions about his process as an actor and about how he’s feeling in the movie. He was very open and very willing to answer any question I had, all while he had a smoke with his boots on. I mean this is as old school cowboy as it gets as on his spare time he digs dirt and plants, I mean this is what he does, and it’s cool.
KT – Well this was my first time working with him, I know Shawn had worked with him before. He’s a legend, you do these indie movies and you hope that you can learn something from people like that. You try to watch their acting process and see what they bring to the table and how they do it. You see the behind the scenes prep so it was great. And it’s almost like having a living prop because you have a real zombie hunter, essentially he embodies that, and he stares at you and looks like he wants to kill me literally all the time. So it makes it much easier as an actor to work off something like that
SR – And yeah working with someone of that calibre certainly brings everybody’s game up a little bit. And intimidating, nah I know the old bastard so I’m not that intimidated.
MJ – And I must add, everything you guys have said has backed up all of the fine things I have heard about the class act that is Stephen McHattie. Thanks again for sitting down with me today guys, but let me leave you with one last question. What’s with director Casey Walker’s obsession with Bacon?
KT – Bacon?
Kristopher and Shawn in unison – not just regular bacon, Tactical Bacon!
KT – A REAL product you couldn’t write that you couldn’t make that up, that has to exist somehow, I don’t know.
SR – Yeah I don’t know, I think he found it online or something and was like wow this is real, we need this in the movie, then they sent up a box or something so he was like “alright Tactical Bacon it is”. What else do zombie hunters eat.
CL – I also don’t know where it comes from but I really appreciate his love of bacon in general because I like bacon in everything! Who doesn’t like bacon? I’m a Canadian so it kinda just makes sense.
MJ – LOL! I guess I’ll have to follow up with Casey on that one. Thanks again guys.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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