Indie filmmakers bring zombies to YouTube
If you were in a group of aspiring filmmakers setting out to create a new and exciting web series, what would be your first choice for a subject? If you’re the creative forces behind Box O’ Markers Productions, it’s zombies.
The group was founded on legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s quote that “the internet is the best thing that ever happened for independent filmmakers.” Producer Beatriz Aguilar said the group is made up of indie filmmakers, most of whom met in a film class at a local community college. As the students discussed the growth of web series, they came to the agreement that working on one of their own would hone the skills they were learning in class.
“We already had the channel Box O’ Markers and the name helped us come up with the concept for our web series,” Aguilar said. “To us, each marker would represent a specific genre and that became our concept.”
First out of the box was green, which everyone knows stands for zombies.
“The first season we chose zombies as our theme and we have completed the first story arc called ‘American Zombies,’ and we’ll move on to ‘Zombie Sperm’ written and directed by Michael Alexander Greenhut and two additional scripts,” Aguilar said. “Subsequently each season we will bring you a different theme to sink your teeth into.”
Roun Tamaki, who wrote and directed the first story arc, said “American Zombies” is different because it’s a straight-up satire not a parody since it’s not a spoof.
“Instead it follows its own narrative where the characters are prioritized over plot. For example in Episode 3, ‘The Things We Carry,’ there are people who sent us messages saying how they cried because it was so moving,” he said. “I wanted to approach the story in the same way the human race has dealt with epidemics and pandemics, natural disasters and catastrophes. The world didn’t end. In fact, society continued and thrived because capitalism is such that it is so versatile that it can make good whatever calamity it encounters. Good or bad, the series doesn’t moralize.”
Tamaki said the story arc shows the unstoppable nature of humanity.
“As far as we’re concerned, looking at our track record, cancer, AIDS, and plagues hasn’t stopped us,” he said. “At the core of it all, ‘American Zombies’ stays true to the roots of the genre, it is a human drama.”
Aquilar and Tamaki are joined in their endeavor by Shaun Morris, the principle director of photography; Mark Manalo, grip and graphics; Michael Alexander Greenhut, grip and second shooter/camera assistant; SFX make-up artist Robin Rosselli and casting supervisor Joseph Halay (“Grey”).
Aquilar said with the popularity of the living dead genre the choice to start with zombies was an easy one to make.
“Zombies are huge right now. The zombie genre has risen from the dead. Aside from vampires, zombies are our generation’s monster,” she said. “Sure they had a run in the 70s and 80s, but like any other genre it has to reinvent itself in a contemporary mold. Besides, everybody likes zombies!”
However, with so many zombie-themed products out there, how does the group plan to stand out?
“We feel our approach is different because we will be bringing several different stories to share with our audience. This isn’t a web series about zombies it’s a selected theme we chose for this season. All the stories will be written and directed by different members of the B.O.M. Productions team,” she said. “This means all the stories will have a different feel, tone, rhythm due to the person telling you the story. To me unintentionally it turned out to be an homage to the former shows like the Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Tales from the Crypt. In The Alfred Hitchcock Hour most of the stories were self-contained and directed by different people as well as Tales from the Crypt.”
Aquilar said the episodes of the first story arc have been well received and the group is gaining a following, but production of future arcs and seasons is dependent on securing funding.
“The biggest challenge in indie filmmaking is always the financial backing. We need money for craft services (meals & snacks on set), props, set design, costumes, and SFX make-up. We have nobody backing us at the moment and we have pitched in to finish filming,” she said. “We have been fortunate to have a great base of family and friends that have allowed us the opportunity to film in their homes and work spaces. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Coming into this we thought it would be difficult; but we didn’t know what the word really meant until we started digging in the trenches.”
The group is currently running an indiegogo campaign that can be viewed at http://www.indiegogo.com/boxomarkers. At this time the campaign has 10 days remaining.