Most people see zombies as pretty terrifying. They eat people, they tend to gather in large crowds and they give off the impression that they smell pretty rank. So if you have a fear of being eaten, crowds or insulting smells, zombies are probably your worst nightmare.
Whenever a new zombie movie comes out the survivors turn out to be the fire man, the local doctor, the ridiculously good looking woman (job usually not specified/important) and a couple of kids who are sure to cause havoc along the way.
But what if the fireman was called out to an emergency (like the zombie invasion perhaps) and was brutally devoured by 500 zombies, and the local doctor surely would have been one of the first to go, I mean he’s the person people go to if they are feeling a bit funky, the ridiculously good looking woman was probably on a date in a busy restaurant at the time of the mass zombie break out and the kids would have done the exact opposite of what they were told, so they definitely would have headed out onto the streets filled with hungry zombies when told by officials to stay inside.
In reality, the real survivors would be the lazy, unemployed, couch potatoes.
Finally there is a zombie movie that has turned all those stereotypical heroes into zombies and the local embarrassments into the last known survivors.
‘Last of the Living’ is a dark comedy that breathes new disease ridden life into a ‘done to death’ concept.
Morgan Williams was one of those lazy couch potatoes given the task of surviving through a zombie movie.
I interviewed him about his time as an underwhelming hero (over the phone, just in case he was infected).
Hi Morgan, thanks for talking with me today. So how long have you been doing this sort of work?
I guess that’s um, loosely sort of 6 years of acting, I’ve also made a few trailers for things i.e. shot, edited and directed them. I’ve also made adverts for my own underwear company called Nudel Men’s Packaging. I’ve also done a bit of presenting, mainly for educating videos and corporate videos.
‘Last of the Living’ looks like an interesting take on the usual zombie film. I like that there’s such unlikely heroes’ in the film, what was it like to be a part of?
We filmed the majority of it, about 80% in 2007 in two weeks. My friend Logan McMillan wrote and directed it and pretty much everybody who was on the film was a mate. It was a pretty intense shoot, it was a hot time of year and everyone was getting pissed off with everyone else. I think you tend to get pissed off with your mates much easier than on a professional set. We were all switching roles too, I think at one point I was co-producer and the guy who was doing sound would be holding the boom in one shot and then dressing up as a zombie for the next scene.
And what about the other 20%?
Well about a year later, Logan and I just happened to both be in Wellington for Christmas and he had his camera gear and home made steady cam and we met at the beehive on Christmas day. We were able to do all of the pick – up shots then as the place was completely deserted. We tried to do the same thing in Christchurch after that but it was surprisingly busy, I don’t think we ended up using any of the Christchurch footage.
What is the film about?
Well my character was called Morgan, there were two other guys Ash (Ashleigh Southam) and Johnny (Robert Faith) and were the only known survivors of the zombie apocalypse. We end up becoming the unlikely heroes when Stef (Emily Paddon-Brown) who is a scientist finds us and she believes there is an antidote to cure all of the zombies, so she convinces us lazy guys to help her find a cure. The film is more about their journey and finding the antidote rather than being really gory. That was partly due to not having a huge budget.
Yes, it sounds like it was a pretty low budget film, how did you get funds?
Well Logan initially made a trailer for the film off his own back and managed to get some interest from a local investor who gave us $10,000 and that was the money we used to pay people on the job and shoot. Once the majority of the film was shot, Logan made a trailer and put it up on zombie fan sites trying to get as much interest in it as possible and a small distributor in America saw it and paid for the rights in America, giving us the funding for editing and finishing the film.
Have you gathered much of a fan base since the ‘Last of the Living’?
Not really, I think New Zealand is kind of immune to the whole celebrity thing. Like we see people walking down the road who are on TV and it doesn’t really bother us. But I was on a train in Britomart recently and I sat next to this Indian guy in his early 20’s and he just looks at me and goes “Oh my God. It’s Morgan from Last of the Living. I love that film so much, I have watched it so many times and I have got all my friends to watch it”. And all the people on the train are looking at me and going we have no idea who this guy is. (laughs). This guy even knew all my lines, it was crazy, I was just about to say to him as well like, it’s not the best film when he brought it up, but maybe that’s what he liked about it. It had a sort of rawness about it.
Even though the film was full of gory zombie deaths, there were still a few zombies that were killed using various objects. How did you do the special FX for this?
It was mostly done in post, like when Stef (Emily Paddon-Brown) kills this boy zombie we used a melon as his head when we shot the scene and then in post -production we made it into a real head.
What else have you acted in?
I worked on a show called ‘Prehistoric Park’. I was on episode three of the series and played a biologist. It was really fun and interesting because I got to work with a bit of green screen, but mostly CGI (Computer Generated Graphics), and there were people with puppets on their hands pretending to be dinosaurs. Theses puppets would be turned into dinosaurs in post, so I’d be rolling around on the ground pretending to fight off this dinosaur that in reality was a person with a puppet on their hand it was definitely a new experience.
By Tessa McEwing for M&T Models and Talent Agency.