Today's Date: 25 June 2016
Last Updated: 11 January 2016 17:07:40 EST
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Zombies to invade Cayman

The Zombie Driftwood poster

Zombies don’t normally wear Hawaiian shirts and square dance to country and western music, but there’s nothing normal about the zombies in a new film scheduled to be filmed in Cayman next month.

Zombie Driftwood is based in North Side’s Driftwood Bar, run by Phil Eckstein who penned the screenplay which was commissioned by Scottish filmmaker Bob Carruthers.

Mr. Carruthers is directing the movie which he describes a “low-budget zombie B movie”.

Casting has already begun and script read-throughs with local actors are being held at the Harquail Theatre.

But roles are still up for grabs – there are more than 200 zombies needed to stomp their way through the film.

Mr. Carruthers, who has been on Cayman for more than six weeks, said he first got involved after coming to Cayman to look into working on another project involving PC Cast, writer of a successful series of vampire books.

Whilst hanging out at Driftwood, Mr. Carruthers got into conversation with Mr. Eckstein who told the director that he had gotten into the second round of London Film Festival with a screenplay based on his novel When the Forest Bleeds.

“Bob asked if he commissioned me to write a script, would I do it. I said ‘Certainly’. He said ‘Do you mind what the subject matter is?’ so I asked what he had in mind... and he asked if I’d be able to do a zombie movie.

“I’d never even seen a zombie movie before, but a friend rented one for me, I watched it, and told Bob ‘Sure’.”

Mr. Eckstein knocked the script out in four weeks and handed over the finished product just over a week ago.

 “I thought the script was really good,” Mr. Carruthers said. “So, we put together a micro-budget, it’s to be a small production, we’ll shoot on two cameras, like they do in soap operas.”

But this “soap opera” involves young couples visiting North Side, hard-drinking customers at the bar, a world-weary barman and lots and lots of zombies.

The team behind the movie has created a local company and will be inviting people to invest in the project by buying 1 per cent of the company for $5,000. A prospectus with more information will be released on the company website www.ZombieDriftwood .com later this month. The site is expected to go live on 25 May, Mr. Carruthers said.

“People kept asking could they get involved and so we’ve opened this company... People can invest and the investors will also get to be zombies,” said the director.

He said the investments would be small, so that “even if it all goes wrong, nobody loses too much”.

The zombie investors will also get an associate producer credit on the film.

Filming of the movie is scheduled for the last two weeks of June.

Local cast

“Originally we were going to fly in cast and crew but there are plenty of people here and some of them can really act.  We’re hoping to do it all with Cayman actors,” he said.

“The idea is to bring as few people on the Island as we can and maximise the opportunities to build something here,” he said.

He is also hoping to offer training to people who want to learn to work on movies, as suggested by the Cayman Islands Film Commission.

“What we’ll be doing is a series of workshops on how to make commercial productions on very low budgets,” Mr. Carruthers said.

He plans to hold the workshops at the start of June.

He said the film would effectively be a “guinea pig” for future productions made with the assistance of the Cayman Islands Film Commission, which was set up in January last year with the mandate to develop a film industry in Cayman.

“The CIFC perspective is that though this is a relatively small production, it will be a great opportunity for CIFC to help build local capacity and facilitate further training. Naturally, it will also provide some incremental income for a variety of people who would be involved locally,” said Lesley-Ann Thompson, head of marketing at the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment which runs the Film Commission.

If it all goes ahead as planned, the straight-to-DVD film should complete shooting by the end of June, and the local premiere could be as soon as September.

It will be distributed on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The actors and director have had two read-throughs of the script so far. “There are clearly people who can act really well on island,” said Mr. Carruthers.

A $150,000 budget has already been allocated, and any further funds added by investors who want to get involved will be used to promote and market the film, Mr. Carruthers said.

Tourists from hell

The 75 minute-long film follows a small group of people fighting off marauding zombies who get to Cayman on a mystery cruise ship that shows up with no one on board – or at least, no one alive.

“What I liked was this idea of the cruise ship that disappears in the Bermuda Triangle and appears in North Side with no passengers. There are lots of opportunity for satire, like zombies in Hawaiian shirts and shorts,” Mr. Carruthers said.

There are 12 speaking roles in the film and plenty more groaning and moaning roles in the form of 200 or more zombies.

“It follows all the conventions of the genre. People get trapped and besieged,” he said.

Although the film is about zombies and people being bitten and killed, it also promises plenty of comic relief.

The film is being made with the help of the Film Commission and many of the actors were found on a resources list on its website.

“We’re the guinea pig of the scheme. There are some hoops to jump through; we’re going to see if it works for other people, so we’re working closely with the Cayman Islands Film Commission,” Mr. Carruthers said.

“The local actors will get work and have experience working on a B movie in the Cayman Islands.”

The film makers plan to have the zombie flick ready for release in the UK and US in October, in time for Halloween, and to be selling it to the international TV market at MIPCON in Cannes, also in October.

 “Provisionally, we’re looking at Saturday, 25 September for a screening in Cayman,” the director said.

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