Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse
Director: Marc Forster
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Synopsis: A UN representative, writing a report on the great zombie war, interviews survivors in the wake of World War Z.
World War Z
Release Date: June 20th, 2013
On an ordinary day, Gerry Lane and his family find their quiet drive interrupted by urban gridlock. An ex-United Nations investigator, Lane senses that this is no ordinary traffic jam. As police helicopters buzz the sky and motorcycle cops careen wildly below, the city erupts into chaos.
Something is causing hordes of people to viciously attack each other - a lethal virus that is spread through a single bite, turning healthy humans into something unrecognisable, unthinking and feral. Neighbor turns on neighbor; a helpful stranger suddenly becomes a dangerous enemy. The origins of the virus are unknown, and the number of infected grows exponentially larger each day, quickly becoming a global pandemic. As the infected overwhelm the world's armies and rapidly topple its governments, Lane is forced to return to his dangerous former life to insure the safety of his family, leading a desperate worldwide search for the source of the epidemic and a means to stop its relentless spread.
Paramount Pictures and Skydance Production present, in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films, a Plan B Entertainment/2DUX2 Production, a Marc Forster film, 'World War Z." The film is being distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures Corporation, a Viacom, Inc. company.
From Page To Screen
'World War Z" began as a post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks called World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, written in first person, individual accounts from those who experienced it. Producers Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner read the book in galley form. They, along with everyone at their production company, Plan B Entertainment, were captivated.
'Five years ago, I knew nothing about zombies. Now, I consider myself an expert," recalls Brad Pitt. 'Max Brooks's book treats the zombie genre as a global pandemic, spreading much like we've witnessed viruses such as SARS travel. What happens when this jumps the fire break…what happens when everything we concern our days with is rendered useless? What happens when power structures and societal norms are obliterated? How will we survive?"
'It resonated with us as something that was relevant and prescient, despite being a zombie book – or maybe because of it. We didn't know - which made it even more compelling," Dede Gardner recalls.
The vast scope of the story also intrigued Jeremy Kleiner, who was familiar with Max Brooks' work, having read his companion book/field manual, The Zombie Survival Guide.
'The world scale – the intersection of zombies, politics, institutions – intrigued us and added really cool, contemporary elements unusual in the zombie genre," says Jeremy Kleiner.
However, the novel's multi-person, testimonial approach did not necessarily lend itself to a motion picture screenplay. Ultimately, the filmmakers opted to tell the story through one protagonist as opposed to many but also endeavoured to maintain the essence of the themes and plot points that initially riveted them.
'It was very apparent that the book's structure was going to be a challenge to adapt. We did try to follow the narrative of the book but we found, having gone through the process, that the dramatic tension was significantly diminished, at least in cinematic terms. We needed to go back, essentially, to when the zombie outbreak occurred and make that the centerpiece of the film. We worked very, very hard to render the movie with authenticity, so it felt like this could happen to us, today, to people we know. And so while the structure differs, I hope the film evokes the feeling we had when we read Max Brook's book," Dede Gardner says.
Still working on the script, the team decided it was time to approach a director and turned to Marc Forster.
'Marc Forster was likeminded in that he was committed to setting the movie in the real world and maintaining the material's verisimilitude," Dede Gardner recalls.
'I respect Marc Forster as a director who has made many different kinds of films, yet with a common thread of dealing with core human issues – family, love, loss. I think he brought this humanistic approach to our film and I think that his openness, his not having pre-conceived notions of the limitations of zombie films, was really helpful," adds Jeremy Kleiner.
Plan B began by sending the book to Marc Forster and like them, he was engrossed.
'I thought it was a great read and it dealt with themes I am really interested in," Marc Forster says. 'I sat down with Plan B and we started talking creatively about what we could do with the project. They had developed the script at that point, which they gave me, and that was the beginning of our discussion that eventually led to this film."
'Zombie movies" have become their own genre and are currently enjoying a popular renaissance. Forster believes there is a thematic reason for their resurgence and many zombie hallmarks resonated with him and drew him to the project.
'I find zombie movies fascinating in that they were popular in the 70s, at a time of uncertainty and upheaval in society. And now when we are again living in a time of change and skepticism, zombies are popular. They're such a great metaphor –representing a sort of unconsciousness and hold a mirror to what's happening in the world. We human beings, as a species, are unconscious to a certain degree and ultimately we have to wake up," Marc Forster muses.
'I don't know anyone who doesn't encounter zombies in the zeitgeist. I see it in advertising banners inside the New Yorker, for Zombie Survival Kits. The Occupy Wall Street movement invoked a lot of zombie mythology and there's obviously the great success of -The Walking Dead' being the highest rated show on cable television. It's a slippery slope trying to assign metaphors to something that I consider to be very popular but clearly that's a part of it too. The language of the zombie world is more easily understood today, I think, because of everything that's currently going on. People are tied to their screens and their monitors and their headphones - in the most basic sense, they do walk around like zombies by not interacting with other human beings. Also, at least for me, the world feels like a tenuous place…it feels unstable. It feels like there are big waves of emotion and behaviour that are sweeping over us and it's happening more and more quickly. But it does have roots in a historical love for the genre. For me, -World War Z' is intense and real and fun…also non-stop, epic, scary and, I hope, ultimately satisfying," Dede Gardner says.
Indeed, part of the initial appeal of the project for Brad Pitt was the heart-pounding action and race against time aspects of the story.
'Those zombies are scary as hell and the movie, I believe, works on numerous levels," says Brad Pitt. 'But primarily it's complete summer fun and, frankly, something I wanted to do for my sons to enjoy."
To that end, Marc Forster is reluctant to categorise 'World War Z" solely as a 'zombie movie."
'It's not just about zombies, it's about a global apocalypse that happens to be spread by zombies," Marc Forster says.
'There are a lot of parallels to what we're living through, culturally, that lend themselves to a -zombie movie,' but the great thing about Max Brook's book is that he set it in a realistic time frame and within a reality-based framework. That's what really intrigued me – I wanted to create a movie that feels real, so audiences feel like this could happen, this minute, to any one of us. The general premise is that anything can happen, in any kind of scenario, on any given day. No one is spared, everyone is susceptible. That's the plotline in the movie but it's also real life," Marc Forster says.
The Human Cast
While the book tells the story through various first-person accounts of the epidemic, the filmmakers chose to tell the tale through one very special Everyman – Gerry Lane, ex-U.N. investigator, played by Brad Pitt.
'Gerry has gone to hot zones around the world – Rwanda, Bosnia – places of tremendous danger and turbulence and crisis. Ultimately he retreats from that line of work to focus on his family and live a more normal life. But when the zombie outbreak occurs, his former employer contacts him believing he is the only man for the job. He is essentially trying to figure out the identity of Patient Zero – where the epidemic really began and the whole movie is told through his point of view. It was really important for me that we build the movie around that; we experience everything as he does," Marc Forster says.
In Brad Pitt, Marc Forster says, he had the ideal ally, on and off the screen.
'It was an incredible experience working with Brad. He is a sublime actor and a true artist with impeccable taste, not just as the star of the film but also as the producer. His sensibility of what works, what is real versus what rings as false, is right on point. We're not making a documentary, we're making a film but at the same time, we wanted to keep it grounded in reality and he has a true sensitivity for that. Both of us had never done anything like this and in that sense it was a challenge - to work through this genre that was unfamiliar to the both of us and to try to create something fresh and new. I really enjoyed that tremendously, I couldn't have wished for a better partner," Marc Forster says.
Marc Forster's eclectic filmography intrigued Pitt. From action films to period biographies and book adaptations – 'He can't be pigeonholed as a director and his experience and interest in many genres and types of film is a rarity. His most memorable moments on film are intimate and human. It was this quality juxtaposed against our massive global apocalyptic crisis that we believed would lead to an unusually authentic and grounded action thriller."
Marc Forster says that Gerry is 'not your typical hero" and that is part of the character's appeal.
'Several times in the movie, Gerry says that movement is life and he urges people around him to keep moving. I like that phrase a lot, because ultimately in life we can't stand still, we have to move with the current otherwise we'll drown. But all the while he is observing and adjusting – as the zombies take over, he sees little signs and starts to put things together. He makes crucial decisions in the moment. He is chosen for this journey because he has the unique ability to be thrown into extremely dangerous, chaotic situations and survive," Marc Forster says.
This is not a life Gerry particularly enjoys so he gave it up to spend more time with his family. Ironically, to protect his family, he must return to his previous, perilous job.
'Gerry can't fly, he can't beat up bad guys…He has no super-powers. He's a dad, with a burning need to keep his family safe," says Brad Pitt. 'To do that, he can only rely on his intellect, his instincts and his experience."
'It was very important to cast an actress as his wife Karen who had both strength and vulnerability. Because when he leaves, she must rise to the occasion so that their kids feel safe, even as everything around them is disintegrating. But also you need to feel that when she's alone, how much she misses him and fears that she won't ever see him again," Marc Forster says.
Mireille Enos embodied those dual qualities of strength and vulnerability.
'She came in and did a reading that was so beautiful and truthful and she possessed all these different layers that I saw in the character," Marc Forster says.
'World War Z" is the largest film Mireille Enos' has ever worked on, and she describes the experience as 'thrilling and surprising," largely due to Forster's approach.
'Marc Forster is such a gentle and thoughtful human being. He puts you completely at ease. There was so much respect, warmth and collaboration on set. It was a gift to work with someone who has that much grace. I was in this huge action film, and yet the scenes I got to do with Brad Pitt were intimate and subtle – it was all those things because Marc is telling the story. He looks for those little -human pearls,' that's what he calls them. It was the best of both worlds," Mireille Enos says.
Mireille Enos says her collaboration with Brad Pitt was equally gratifying.
'He is a wonderfully generous, open actor who keeps it light – he brings a lot of laughter on to the set. And you can see that he is always thinking about the story and the best way to tell it," Mireille Enos says.
'Mireille Enos is a brilliant partner on set," says Brad Pitt of his co-star. 'To keep a sense of freshness and to capture natural moments, many of the family scenes are riffed. This calls for a great understanding of the moment, and quick reflexive instincts. Mireille Enos can embody the lovingness of the mother and flip to the ferociousness of the lioness protecting her young in an instant. As in any great relationship, she carried half the weight"a true ally."
Mireille Enos notes that while Karen understands that Gerry must leave the family, '… she has a lot of very mixed feelings about Gerry volunteering for this mission. On one hand, it would be excellent if he could help to solve this world crisis. But it also means that she is left alone with the children, in a world where survival is not easy. At the critical moment when she needs him the most, and they really need to band together - he steps away. It's complicated. And it ties into what Marc Forster is trying to do with the movie, to look at the humanity within an incredibly dire situation. Not to get too heavy, but we are a world in crisis and Marc Forster is making a smart film that makes us conscious of how delicate the human condition is."
'World War Z" initially highlights this 'human condition" through the intimate relationship between Gerry and his family, who he reluctantly must abandon for their own sake. To that end, it was important that the opening scenes between Gerry, his wife and his young daughters, portrayed by Sterling Jerins and Abigail Hargrove, seem playful and loving and real. Audiences had to feel their bond immediately because the world as they know it is soon violently and terrifyingly upended.
'It was so critical to get that relationship right. We looked long and hard and found two girls that are very talented but who also act very much like their own age and look very much like their own age. And then we made a point to have the four of them spend time together as a familial unit so when they got on set, that was out of the way. They'd already met and they'd already played games and eaten together and done some things that families do so they wouldn't be distracted by meeting one another for the first time. It all came very naturally. Abigail is very much the older sister and Sterling is very much the younger sister and the baby of the family and Mireille Enos is a parent and Brad Pitt is a parent, so there were a lot of boxes that were already checked. Beyond that, I think the best thing you can ever do to shore up dynamics like that in movies is to give them time to knit themselves together to be believable," Jeremy Gardner says.
Thierry Umutoni, Gerry's friend and ex-boss, is the person who sets this double-edged, Faustian plan into motion – he arranges to whisk the family to safety by airlifting them to a secure aircraft carrier, on the condition that Gerry, with his very specific skill set, embark on a mission to literally save the world. South African actor Fana Mokoena plays Thierry and 'World War Z" is his second movie with Marc Forster.
'I worked with him on -Machine Gun Preacher' and he's amazing. I come from a culture where directors are prescriptive and descriptive, but Marc Forster trusts his actors. He gives you the leeway to explore and that's very liberating, especially in a movie of this magnitude. There's nothing better than when an actor is given the creative space to breathe and he (Marc Forster) does that while also considering the bigger picture. He was always very sensitive to the actors, the story and the characters and brought that sensitivity to the whole project," Fana Mokoena says.
Fana Mokoena is also one of the only actors in the film to have scenes with both Mireille Enos and Brad Pitt.
'It was fantastic to work with both of them. Brad does such quality work but is also a great student of humanity. And Mireille Enos is such a wonderful person, always smiling, concerned about everyone around her. And such an amazing talent, she brings out the best in everyone. She's like a friend you want to have for life," Fana Mokoena says.
In a North Korean military prison under siege, Gerry meets a corrupt and recently imprisoned CIA agent (David Morse) who may or may not be deranged.
'My character has become rather cynical in his view of the world. He has done something he's been punished for, but it's a punishment that probably saved his life because it lands him in a jail cell in Korea and protects him from the really terrifying things happening outside. The information he has helps Gerry move to the next step," David Morse says.
From behind bars, he tells Gerry an outrageous and possibly true tale of his own first encounter with the virus and the way one nation chose to combat it.
David Morse worked with Brad Pitt on the film 'Twelve Monkeys" and was delighted to reunite with him for this pivotal scene.
A wry, forthright Army Ranger, portrayed by James Badge Dale, runs the North Korean military installation. He follows his orders the best that he can while keeping his men alive in the face of the unspeakable anarchy exploding right outside his bunker.
'I am a big fan of David Morse, always have been. I had the pleasure of working with him before – he's an incredibly gifted, humble, respectful actor. It was great just to watch him form this character, sitting in a prison cell, just trying things out. It is such a dynamic performance but on a moment's notice, he can turn it around and make it so small, internal and truthful. The man is incapable of lying, he is always so present, just fantastic," Badge Dale says.
He also enjoyed working with Brad Pitt, in his dual actor/producer roles, both of which, he says, fed the other in a quiet, subtle way.
'If you didn't know he was the producer, you wouldn't because he doesn't wheel that around. What he does is come in as a caring artist. He cares about the story, about the cast and crew and he makes sure that everyone is comfortable. He's less concerned with himself than with everyone around him – it's very selfless and creates a positive work environment," Badge Dale notes.
Badge Dale has some on-screen combat background, from his work in the HBO miniseries 'The Pacific." However, this was an entirely new military experience for him and he relied on Freddie Joe Farnsworth, the seasoned stunt man and 'World War Z" military technical advisor.
'I told Freddie Joe I didn't need to go to boot camp but I did want to spend some time with the guys who would be my fellow soldiers. So Freddie Joe took the time to explain the weapons to us and run some drills with us so we could get to know each other and bond," he explains.
Gerry's hunt takes him from Korea to Israel where he witnesses first hand their indigenous, time-honoured form of containment and protection – walls and barricades (some ancient, some new), all designed to keep their people safe. Until they don't, of course. Gerry's guide in Jerusalem is Jurgen Warmbrumm of the Mossad and even when the situation there deteriorates into violence and pandemonium, a combination of Gerry's instincts and experience allow him to get out safely while learning another piece of vital information in his search for answers. Israeli filmmaker Ludi Boeken plays Warmbrumm.
'I'm actually a film director and producer and developing another project with Marc Forster. I happened to be meeting with him in London about it and as we were talking, Marc Forster suddenly looked at me and – even though we have known each other for a long time – said, -Have you ever acted in a movie? Would you read for me?' I said, -Well, yeah, I've been in a few of my own movies, usually killers or bad guys.' And I think he also knew that I had worked as a war reporter in the Middle East, not just in Israel, and I've known people like Warmbrumm," Ludi Boeken says.
Daniella Kertesz, also from Israel, plays Segen, the Israeli Lieutenant who joins Gerry and becomes a critical, even lifesaving aide in his quest. 'World War Z" is her first movie and she went through a version of bootcamp to become the resolute Segen.
Military advisor Farnsworth took Daniella Kertesz through the paces.
We put her in the platoons, taught her simple formations, with all the background and all the other extras. I only had four or five days to work with her but she took it really well," Farnsworth says.
As a rule, the filmmakers tried to cast native actors to represent the various people Gerry meets as he travels the globe.
'Everything was about authenticity, both in terms of the quality of the acting and the representation of the globe. We went to each of the places where the characters were from and dove into the local talent pool to try and find the right people. We weren't interested in people putting on accents and pretending they were from places they weren't," Dede Gardner explains.
Around The World
In keeping with Gerry Lane's transcontinental hunt for the cure to the spreading pandemic, 'World War Z" filmed in far-flung locales, on land and often in the sea.
'First of all it's called -World War Z' so it was critical that we represent the globe. I think the planet is evident to a greater number of people than ever before – you can click a button and see what's going on virtually anywhere. So it's harder and harder to fake that. Audiences are smart, they know what different cities around the world look like and there is a point where you can't engage in trickery nor do I think you should. I think movies benefit from different locales and different cultures and settings and different moods and I think that comes across on the screen," Jeremy Gardner says.
'World War Z" opens in Philadelphia as full-scale zombie pandemonium ensues. Glasgow doubled for Philly and although they are literally worlds apart, the cities share similar architecture, some of which was augmented during post-production. To further transform the Scottish city, the production replaced native signs, traffic signals and cars with their American counterparts. Also, Glasgow offered an ideal layout for showing maximum mayhem.
'The city is arranged in a square which gave us more opportunity to see the havoc and panic when the zombies invade the city," says location manager Michael Harm.
Glasgow was also particularly hospitable to the hundreds of extras and personnel required to approximate the start of the pandemic.
'When we were on the smaller streets in the beginning of the sequence, we had over 200 people to make the streets look full. As we moved into the square for the mayhem scenes, we bumped it up to 700 people. But what was really lucky was there was an old Bank of Scotland building that was completely gutted. That offered about 50,000 square feet where the background artists could stay in between shots. And we used its four floors for make-up, wardrobe and catering," Michael Harm says.
Veteran second unit director Simon Crane orchestrated much of the 'World War Z" mayhem.
'When we see the zombies for the first time, in Philadelphia, it goes from calm to 100% panic and action very quickly and Glasgow worked beautifully. Marc Forster had a real passion for conveying the huge scale of the devastation and we tried to do that practically, in-camera, as much as possible. We approached the zombie attack like a pack of rabid dogs, running and taking people down. We were trying to bring across that fear and violence," Simon Crane says.
To accomplish this required carefully choreographed stunt work that began with a pre-visualized look at the action in the computer and culminated with, among other things, the sacrifice of several vehicles …
'We crashed over 150 different cars. We crashed the garbage truck and slammed Brad's Volvo into an ambulance and various other things. It was big scale. At least 80% of the vehicles were written off," Simon Crane says. 'Glasgow was great. We shut down blocks and blocks for controlled car crashes outside the main buildings. It was fantastic."
Jeremy Gardner notes that up until the arrival of the -World War Z' production, Glasgow had not experienced the temporary influx of the army of people that populate a big, complicated movie – and, she says, the city could not have been more welcoming or accommodating.
'Glasgow was quite an operation. Even though they had not hosted a lot of big films, there was an unbelievable enthusiasm on the part of the city to not only have us but to try and make our jobs easier. The reception was just astonishing. To shoot the big opening zombie attack sequence, they shut down the main square of the city for us for over two weeks. And people rolled with it. They posted signs in their windows welcoming us. It was really terrific," Jeremy Gardner recalls.
Often the huge amount of extras and the associated personnel required to turn them into zombies became its own logistical circus.
'There were many, many thousands of extra man days on the film. We had big crowd scenes in Malta, playing for Jerusalem. There were big crowd scenes in Glasgow for Philadelphia. The airplane sequence had roughly 150 extras to fill the interior of the aircraft for five days of photography. And those scenes are even further complicated, because there were heavy zombie presences. That involves giant numbers of hair, make-up and wardrobe staff to achieve the look of what you're trying to get. If you have 500 extras that need to look a certain way, that's an awful lot of people required to get them ready. We were shooting one day with the full extra count and I remember coming on to the set and you literally couldn't move because of the size of the crew that was there to get everyone ready. And then a couple hours later we sent the zombies away for a little break as we were going to do something else just with Brad Pitt and a few other people and it was like the set became barren. It was hilarious," says producer Ian Bryce.
In keeping with the overall mantra of authenticity, the filmmaking team endeavoured to ground the adrenalin-spiking zombie anarchy in reality. Gerry Lane is not a superhero but rather an astute, quick-witted, hyper-perceptive man. Crane had worked with Pitt several times before and they had a shorthand, in terms of how to accomplish the complicated action scenes.
'Brad Pitt had huge input into the strategy of how we would stage all the action and we always tried to keep it as real as possible. He's a former U.N. worker, not a fighter. He's a real person, a normal, everyday guy. So we tried to make everything as believable as possible. He's very good at the action stuff and wanted to be as involved as possible, which of course also helped," Crane says.
The Lane family finds temporary safety on an enormous aircraft carrier and, in fact, the British Navy vessel the Argus stood in for the American ship. Filming the arrival sequence was quite a feat, featuring actual helicopters, 500 extras, dozens of military vehicles and of course the huge, powerful and elegant aircraft carrier itself.
'It was great to work on a real aircraft carrier instead of on stage. The emotional intensity was so much more. It offered great scale and authenticity, which is what you want for this film, because on many levels, it is a war film. The world is at war with the zombies," Marc Forster says.
The Infected Cast
Of course, the most critical part of the film is the zombies themselves. Marc Forster and company wanted to honour the genre but not be beholden to it, to create something original and organic to this particular story.
'With zombie movies, ultimately, everyone goes back to George Romero's because they are so iconic. More recently, there was -28 Days Later' and so on. So, as a filmmaker, you always try to do something new and different even though you are working within the framework of its history. And that's what we tried to do with this. There are certain classic zombie elements that we brought along, but their movements and motivations will be different," Marc Forster says.
Specifically, filmmakers based their behavior on the 'swarm theory," a pattern of movement seen in nature that he underscored even before these quite unnatural creatures appeared on screen.
'It's the way flocks of birds or fish or ants move together. There is almost a -swarm intelligence' to it. I thought it would be interesting to see these zombies, who have no intellect since they are walking dead, react in this swarm mentality. There is not a real direction because the zombies are the undead. But as a whole, there is an unconscious consciousness.
When they are moving at this hysterical pitch, the zombies are their most dangerous – however they are not always aggressive. In -World War Z,' the best but still horrific glimpses we have at the zombies are when they are dormant.
'When they are not provoked, they are stagnant, slow and wandering. When the feeding frenzy starts, it's almost like a shark that smells blood. In the moment they sense that there's something to attack, they will just go for it. And that we establish very early, that they're drawn by sound," Marc Forster says.
The filmmakers deliberately and conscientiously created a credible 'backstory" for zombie behaviour; to do so, like Gerry, they began with their origins.
'A lot of work went into citing our zombie mythology in science. We hired a few different consultants who talked about everything from infectious disease to hive behaviour to physiological defense mechanisms. How people or animals protect themselves in the face of a parasite, for example, and how do they survive that. It seemed much more interesting to us to root our zombies as much in fact as possible, knowing full well that they are not real. And then the second phase was figuring out how to express that. Once you get into that cluster of thought, a whole bunch of other doors open. There's the zombie that has just turned – what the does the turn itself actually look like? How long does it take? How fast do they then turn on someone else? Do they need to be provoked to do so? What are the conditions that would provoke them? What does a zombie look like that's been a zombie for an hour vs. one that's been a zombie for a month? Then there's obviously the question of speed. Zombies are historically slow. But we wanted both slow and fast zombies because different environmental circumstances in our film allowed for it," Jeremy Gardner says.
To create the zombie legion, the team turned to a combination of effects and artists – dancers, stunt people, prosthetics, make-up, CGI and carefully choreographed camera moves. And not every zombie was the same from scene to scene; each had their own specific dance, as designed by choreographer Alexandra Reynolds. The first human we see succumb to the zombie infection is played by movement specialist Ryen Perkins-Gangnes.
'I studied how people start to move when they have epileptic seizures and we based the change from human to zombie on that. Ryan Perkins is an incredible movement artist and was very good at conveying that contortionist movement, that literally was all him. I mean we added veins popping and we see his eyes change with CGI. The eyes were very important to me – I thought once the eyes change, the person really is the walking dead," Marc Forster says.
The future zombies began to learn their dance at workshops in pre-production where they drew on many influences, from insects to police attack dogs to Javier Bardem's performance in -No Country for Old Men."
'We started by trying to find out the zombies' state of mind so we thought of movies that perhaps had a character without any humanity. We thought that Javier Bardem's character in -No Country for Old Men' had an interesting feel about it. So we spent a lot of time trying to recreate what it might feel like to be him, so the movement came from within. Alex also brought in many different images of insects feeding, how rapacious and relentless they are and their pace which can go from really fast to slow and rhythmical and really fast again. Also she brought in videos of Israeli police dogs, the way they latch on with their jaws and their bodies would flail and their spines would be twisting all over the place. So we became this sort of insect-y, jaw-driven creature devoid of any humanity or sense of future or past, just stuck in the present moment," Ryen Perkins-Gangnes explains.
Alexandra Reynolds also worked with animation director Andy Jones and her 'troupe" of zombies to explore and refine their motion. She did extensive and eclectic research to choreograph their gruesome dance.
'The script had such incredible imagery that truly resonated with me. I wanted to have an effect that was visceral and real and would absolutely stay with the hero and the audience. I looked at some Victorian medical journals. I examined how the body can go into shock and paralysis. All the time we were looking for something that we could no longer recognise as human but could stay in the realm of what was possible. I didn't want to go into fantasyland; I wanted it to be much darker than that. Marc's aspiration was that the zombies are unique and different and he asked me to improvise and experiment to find that new language," she explains.
Costume designer Mayes Rubeo also contributed to this 'new language," with the idiosyncratic look of each zombie.
'We wanted to show the process from human to zombie through the costumes. Not everyone has the same bite, not everybody is hurt or traumatized in the same way. If you look at every zombie we have, every one of them has a specific design, including the aging of the wardrobe, the condition of the clothes, the amount of blood. We wanted to portray each one as an individual in a certain stage of the epidemic. This all came from our director Marc Forster, at the helm of this zombie operation," Mayes Rubeo explains.
All this attention to detail was often horrifyingly revealed in giant sweeping shots, including a terrifying reveal of zombies climbing on top of each other to scale an 'impregnable" wall. Often, Forster turned to these sweeping shots and eschewed the quick cuts and shaky frame.
'Certain movies lend themselves to a more frenetic camera and editorial style. In this one, we chose to have more stable camera moves. The idea of having thousands of zombies trying to get over a wall as helicopters shoot at them, I think those sequences have been extremely well executed," Ian Bryce says.
In fact, in addition to traditional crane moves, actual choppers did shoot those zombies, albeit not with bullets.
'We did a lot of helicopter shots in Malta," Ian Bryce says. 'Sometimes you just have to get in the helicopter to capture the scope of the set."
World War Z
Release Date: June 20th, 2013