With writer/director Eitan Gafny’s horror feature Cannon Fodder set for its Los Angeles premiere Sunday, October 13, at 1:00pm at Screamfest, read on for our exclusive chat with the filmmaker, and have a look at the trailer and some stills!
Produced by Tom Goldwasser, Yafit Shalev and Gafny from a script by the latter, Cannon Fodder stars Liron Levo, Yafit Shalev, Roi Miller, Emos Ayeno and Gome Sarig. The story revolves around the character of Doron Geva, who leads an Israeli Defense Forces Special Ops unit into Southern Lebanon to capture a terrorist leader and number three in the Hezbollah organization, only to discover a new bloodthirsty enemy, that does not show mercy or reason. Now that their enemy has changed its face, it’s up to Doron and his unit to wage a new war in order to find an antidote and get back across the border before the Middle East conflict is changed forever.
Chatting with Gafny regarding Israel’s first produced zombie feature, the filmmaker told us of his inspiration for the feature, “Cannon Fodder takes its influence from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead in terms of story, character-building and tone and combines it with films like Predator in terms of feel, tone, character types and style. The idea was always to combine a zombie film with an action film like Predator, mixing sci-fi with action. So that’s pretty much it, except we had an itsy bitsy budget, so we tried to do as best as we could within our budget limitations in order to make a movie that’s as fun as possible.”
With a portion of Cannon Fodder’s narrative analogical to real world events, we queried Gafny on his intended subtext.
”We wanted our zombies to mean something,” stated the filmmaker. “After all, it is the first zombie film made in Israel, and the whole concept of the film is introducing an elite IDF unit with a new enemy that is a direct result of the Middle Eastern conflict,” he continued.
“The thing is, I didn’t want the zombies to be a metaphor to any side of the conflict. That would have made the film less interesting and more flat. I think the zombies in Cannon Fodder represent something bigger than an ideology. For me, at least, they represent hope in a way, and the story is constructed in a way that helps that idea. Cannon Fodder is not just about people fighting zombies. It’s about people from different sides of the conflict having to work together and put aside their political differences to ensure a better tomorrow. Other than that, I’ll leave interpretation to the viewers, but I can tell you that from what we’ve seen so far, every viewer takes the meaning of the zombies in our film to his direction, and that’s what I love about the film. It’s open to any interpretation, if that’s your cup of blood. If you choose to analyze the metaphor, you can go either way with it.”
As for his experience in shooting a horror-action hybrid, Gafny stated, “I directed two independent shorts and some other stuff along the way and then went to film school to polish my skills. During film school I continued to make a lot of shorts and always trying something different.”
“After I directed a 45-minute romantic horror comedy called Open Stitch,” he continued, “I decided to move on to my first feature film, which is Cannon Fodder, and it felt natural to do a mixed genre piece. After all, almost every good movie today (not only in horror) is kind of a mix; you’ve got action with bromance, horror with comedy, and sci-fi with political and satirical drama. So making a low-budget action-horror zombie film felt like the right way to go, even though the budget doesn’t really allow that, on paper at least.”
“There were a lot of hard decisions to make,” he offered, “for example, whether to rely on CGI all the way or to combine CGI with practical effects, and the process was very enlightening. Most of the action scenes were written with those decisions already made, and some of them, like combining a real stuntman being set on fire with added CGI fire, were made during production. But I have to say that all in all, we were really prepared and in tune with our story vs. our budget and what our goal was, and again, that was just to make a fun movie for people to enjoy.”
”It’s a huge honor for us to be a part of one of the world’s most prestigious horror festivals, and we’re really excited to be a part of the Screamfest family,” stated Gafny of the selection of Cannon Fodder.
“For me, it’s my first time at Screamfest and in LA, and I wish I could spend more time at the festival,” he concluded. “I feel really privileged to be a part of this year’s amazing line-up, and I hope people will enjoy our film. We were privileged to be in Film4 FrightFest in the UK, and this whole journey has been amazing so far. Think of it: We made a small indie action horror film in Israel, which is a country not known for its genre films, and Cannon Fodder has been shown in more than twenty festivals so far, has won seven awards and is now arriving at Screamfest! I don’t know how you put it in any other word than ‘amazing.’”
For more on Screamfest, which runs October 8th to the 17th at the Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601), visit Screamfest’s website, “like” Screamfest on Facebook, and follow Screamfest on Twitter.
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