In the midst of turning my dream of being a filmmaker into a reality, I’ve also had a variety of jobs including Photographer, web-designer, graphic artist, grill master, envelope packer, Apple Technical support and HP printer specialist.
Too young to die is a film about what happens to a group of children left alone in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak. All alone, how do they survive? With that question comes a hundred possibilities. No adults around for supervision, how do they move forward? They have no one to correct them, lead them, teach them, and protect them. They are fending for themselves through an impossible situation. And they inevitably for lack of a better term have to grow up or die trying.
Could you tell me a little about your role and contribution to the film?
With the Too Young to Die script, Wayne Thompson brought me the idea and at first I was like “no way man! No! I can’t stand zombies anymore!” Because there are so many zombie stories kicking around these days, I didn’t want to hop on any bandwagons. But then he pitched that it would be just a group of kids. That clicked with me and I could see all kinds of unique scenarios to throw them into.
James Thompson and I plotted out the core events from there and decided the order of things. We co-wrote the second draft, got notes from Wayne and then I did a final pass, adding a few scenes. Overall my main goal was to make sure the kids all felt real, fleshed out and honest and they didn’t fall into all the typical zombie story tropes. I wanted this to feel as fresh as possible.
I especially wanted this movie to have a resonance beyond the visceral “kids in supernatural danger” elements and there is some stuff in here I hope will bring people back to watch the movie again and again – not just for the pure horror and blood and guts.
What it is like to make Too Young Too Die?
It’s tough, but exciting!
Writing the script was very difficult in the sense that knowing these are kids its hard to strike a good balance between-
a: being real and showing the kids are mortal and can die,
b: trying to appease horror fans by showing blood and guts and
c: trying to justify what isn’t shown.
In the end there is quite a bit of violence and heart break, but it should never feel exploitative. Just real. It was also hard to figure the kids’ mind frames. They won’t act like adults so their decisions are not always the most logical. (Then again, how many adults and teens run up the stairs instead of go out the front door in horror flicks?)
With the teasers we’ve shot, we did it like any other production, we set the scene and light it and its planned and we turn the cameras on – but when we filmed the last teaser and we have this 12 year old kid sitting in a pool of blood holding his dead father’s hand, and we’re asking him to cry and wipe his tears and blood is going over his face and he is scared out of his wits that his dead is moving and reaching for him… It really hit home that this movie will be full of images that on paper are interesting or shocking – but brought to life are truly haunting. This got us pretty excited and maybe I’m too old to understand now but the kids loved it! They really enjoyed going so dark and getting to mess with blood and prop knives and all this stuff.
And of course asking for crowdsourcing, which wasn’t our first choice, is difficult because you don’t want to ask people for money but when we’ve approached studios and producers and investors, they all loved the idea but they all wanted to buy it, not make it. We’ve put our feelings, love, blood, sweat and tears into this film and our company and to sell it and risk it never getting made – or even worse, seeing the movie come out and the kids are helped along by a talking dog or even a middle aged guy, it would kill what we’ve tried to do. So it’s a tough road to travel, but we feel it’s the only way.
When I saw the Too Young Too Die funding pitch, I thought, “That’s an awesome idea! Sandlot with zombies!” Where did the idea come to make a zombie flick using kids?
Wayne came to me with the idea, and he tells me… He was doing a short film freelance for another team, providing a makeup job and was designing a zombie model which was to be destroyed on camera. His daughter Darienne (Who is featured in our first teaser trailer) was watching him. She was only seven at the time and just offhandedly asked him: “So dad. You know when the zombie’s come and take over things? You’re going to be there to protect me and Kyle right?” And he of course said he will – but then it hit him. What if he couldn’t even though he wanted to. For all the best intentions in the world, how can you know you’ll be there. And if you weren’t, how would his kids fare? Would Darienne be able to keep herself safe? At seven there is a lot she doesn’t know about the world…
What did you learn about yourself as you were working on Too Young Too Die? What might viewers learn about themselves?
With this movie, Too Young to Die, what we hope viewers will take away from it is a memorable experience. I hope they question if they could have done what these kids do when they were their ages. And even ask if they could do it now?
Beyond that I hope parents grab their kids tight and hold them close and love them and hope and pray that nothing like this happens to their children. I hope kids look at and realize you’re never too young to rely on yourself. And I hope those without kids just enjoy the ride!
Additionally, there are some elements of the film I think question how guarded children have become in today’s society. A lot of people really treat kids more childishly than they are. We were filming the second trailer and the boy in it, Nathan turned, to me between filming and started asking me questions about making movies and we got into a very in-depth discussion about writers and filmmakers and I stopped myself a moment because I remember thinking… How can you know anything about anything? You’re only twelve! Kids know and feel and understand a lot more than they get credit for.
Where can readers go to find out more?
Too Young to Die
Check out our first feature Walk Away: http://www.mistakeshauntyou.com
Henry Thompson: @ezeaspi