The Ford Brothers Talk The Dead 2’s Challenges, Casting Process, and More
When the Ford Brothers made their highly unusual international zombie movie The Dead and shot it on location in Africa on 35mm film, they made quite a splash in the bloodbath. Reviews were gushing, and so was fan response. So naturally a sequel is heading our way, in two weeks to be exact!
This time around itâ€™s set in India, and again the Fords, co-writers / co-directors Howard and Jon, shot on location and used locals and local actors in naturalistic settings.
The story follows a migrant American worker who is desperately struggling to get from the barren boonies into Mumbai, where his pregnant Hindi girlfriend waits, while everyone else is trying to run from the zombie plague in the opposite direction.
If you think the terrain looks dangerous and the people a little scaryâ€¦ itâ€™s because they were! As the Brits were filming their movie, they were under constant harassment. Jon told us, â€œWe had stones, branches, cow shit, and even dogs thrown at us. One time we went to a village on the edge of the desert which was populated only by women, and in a bizarre Monty Python-ish way we suddenly got stoned! Unfortunately, we’re not talking about cannabis here. This was a proper medieval stoning. Luckily we can all run pretty fast, but shit, those rocks hurt!â€
They had to herd dozens and dozens of extras in full zombie regalia, and that would be hard enough on its own, but few of them spoke English, and none of them knew what the classic â€œzombie shuffleâ€ was. Howard said, â€œThey never even heard of George Romero. In fact, we asked them, and I don’t think we met one person that had seen a zombie film. We made the first international zombie movie in India. There are a couple local zombie movies in India; one is sort of a dance routine thing, but itâ€™s not in their culture. So consequently, all the extras were trained. Most had no clue at all what we were doing. In fact, it was impossible to get shots of them because they just thought it was ridiculous and were laughing. It was a nightmare. There is so much footage we tried to get that we could never, ever use because they would never take it seriously. They didn’t know the â€˜zombie move.â€™ We had to train every single extra. It took so much time and so much energy to do.â€
One of the most frustrating things was the language barrier. As Howard explains it, â€œWe met a lot of actors and people we worked with on the film — certainly those with nonspeaking roles — who didn’t speak any English at all. We had to go through translators, which makes it very difficult to get people to do the exact things that you want. It’s an incredibly frustrating process. I would say both The Dead films have been frustrating in that way.â€
Still, itâ€™s not as bad as some of the ordeals the actors had to endure. â€œOn one occasion,â€ Jon told us, â€œone of the actresses was sexually molested on her way to the auditions! Yeah, I know! In Hollywood they at least wait until they get there. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.)â€
Though the brothers are quite happy with their cast, it was an arduous process to find just the right people. â€œIt was much harder than we thought it was going to be. There are a lot of movies made in Bollywood,â€ said Howard, â€œso we thought we would get people very, very easily. As it turned out, it was actually harder than we realized. At one point we were like, â€˜Letâ€™s get a well-known Bollywood actor.â€™ They were impossible to get to, and the idea of doing a zombie movie was very, very alien to people so I think people didn’t really quite trust what we were up to. In the end we started casting out of film schools. We had to cast people who could speak English clear enough [for English-speaking audiences]. That wasn’t easy so we were very limited as to who we could get.â€
Wow. And Werner Herzog thought he had it tough on Fitzcarraldo. Give these guys a pat on the back, and see The Dead 2 (review) when it comes out in September 16th!
The Dead 2 Release Details
Two years ago filmmakers Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford took international audiences on an unforgettable journey through a zombie-infected African veldt with the critically acclaimed and audience favorite The Dead. Setting a new standard for the zombie film, the Ford Brothers have now raised the survival stakes to new dramatic heights with the September 16th Blu-ray and DVD release of The Dead 2.
As demonstrated with screenings at numerous international film festivals, audiences around the world have once again thrilled to the Ford Brothersâ€™ unique vision of the zombie apocalypse, taking it to yet another epic level. And just as with the first film, reviewers are bestowing glowing praise on the filmmakersâ€™ ability to transform an exotic environment into a vital character within the character-driven narrative. The first international zombie film production to be shot in India, The Dead 2 utilizes the spectacular vistas of Rajasthan, Delhi, and Mumbai to create yet another unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness baked in sunlight.
A ship docks fresh from Somalia, which contains one infected worker that passes unnoticed into the very heart of Indiaâ€™s overpopulated bustling streets, setting off an unstoppable chain of events. Meanwhile, American turbine engineer Nicholas Burton (Joseph Millson) is working in the stark yet tranquil Indian countryside when he receives a call from his love, Ishani (Meenu), a local girl who lives on the outskirts of the slums of Mumbai and who has hidden their relationship from her tradition-minded father. She reveals she is now pregnant and scared for her life as chaos and terror have taken ahold of the cities as the dead return to life and attack the living. Nicholas has to battle his way across their 300-mile landscape filled with flesh-eating â€“ and infectious â€“ undead. With the help of young street kid Javed (Anand Goyal), he has to rely on his wits and sheer brute force to try and save them all, as the clock ticks off the minutes before the last flight out of a living hell…
Bonus features on The Dead 2 Blu-ray and DVD include “The Making of The Dead 2” and deleted scenes.
Unfolding across an epic vista of breathtaking scope, thrilling action, death-defying stunts, and spine-chilling fright, yet always keeping the emotional resonance in focus, the Ford Brothersâ€™ The Dead 2 once again melds the terror of the end of the world with the inspiration of the human drive to survive.
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