Exclusive: Zach Lipovsky Talks Dead Rising: Watchtower


We recently had the opportunity to snag a few moments with the director who is leading the charge in the motion picture adaptation of the insanely popular Dead Rising video game series, Zach Lipovsky. Zach, who has been around the visual set since a very young age, is poised to grab the zombie genre firmly by its rotted flesh and offer a bridge between the franchise’s two most popular titles.

Read on for an entertaining look at a filmmaker that is more than ready to make a big splash in an even bigger pool of blood – enjoy!

Dread Central – Can you give us a little insight about how you got your start in the business?

Zach Lipovsky – My beginning was as an actor; my mom was a TV producer who needed free talent so she used me as a kid actor in her shows, and I grew up on set, while also being a computer nerd and making my own home movies and learning while on film sets. I used to make short films with my friends, and one of my short films won a big competition in Vancouver, which is where I’m from. That film I used to get into “On the Lot,” which was a big competition that Stephen Spielberg and Mark Burnett had come up with, kind of like an “American Idol” for filmmaking, and that was kind of my big spotlight in Hollywood, which helped me get agents and all that stuff, which actually happened at the worst possible time because after the show was the big writers’ strike and the recession, which basically stopped everybody from making movies for two years (laughs). I then had to start all over again, making smaller films, and I’ve been working my way back up ever since.

Dead Rising Zach Lipovsky

DC – Give us the lowdown on Dead Rising: Watchtower – what can fans of the franchise expect to see from this film?

ZL – I’m really excited about this film, probably as excited as I’ve ever been on a film that I’ve made, and it’s really been a work of love for everyone involved who’ve been fans of the franchise and games. People who’ve seen the film that have been big fans of the game have been like, “Wow, that was one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen; now I want to go and play the game,” and people who’ve never played before have liked it and wanted to start playing as well. I’m excited to bring that world to life, and the other really cool thing about it is it takes place within the canon of the story world between Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3.  It tells the story of what happened between those two games, which I think is really unique.

DC – So, were you a hardcore fan of these games, or were they something you just checked out in passing?

ZL – I actually hadn’t played the games before – I’ve always been a computer game-guy, and the funny thing is, when I was growing up, my mom never let me have a console (laughs). But when I got hired to do this, we were shooting in Vancouver where the game was made, so I got to stay with her when we were making the film, so I got to bring an Xbox along, plop it down in the middle of the living room and say, “Okay, there’s nothing you can say about this now because I’m being paid to play!” So I played games 1, 2, and 3 on a binge while she watched and was horrified (laughs), and that’s where I really came to love them.  So much of the game is in the movie, and anytime anything would come up that I thought was hilarious or scary, I’d write it down and put it in the film.

DC – Now, did you find it a challenge to try to create something that looks really good on a small budget, or had you hoped for one of these multi-million dollar productions?

ZL – That was probably our biggest challenge – we had a small budget, even though we were with Legendary Pictures. We still wanted it to feel huge, and I think we really hit a great balance where it’s a small film, but we put every ounce we had into it to make it look as big as possible, and even though it’s technically a web-series type budget, it looks really big and cool and brings to life as much as we could to the universe. People are going to be surprised at how big it feels, with how little money we had. I mean, we had hundreds of people that were zombies and walk-ons that wanted to be zombies, and it was just a great energy around making this film in my hometown.  And the people we hired – it was kind of a step up for them to do this kind of work, and they were bringing as much as they could, and we just got so much more than we’d hoped for – it was worthwhile.

DC – Last one for you… After the release of this film, what can we expect to see from you in the future?

ZL – One of the things I’m most excited about is I’m attached to a script that was written by Graeme Manson, the creator of “Orphan Black,” and it’s the best script I’ve ever read. I read it years and years ago, and for the longest time we couldn’t get together, but now that our careers have grown, it’s finally starting to pick up momentum, and I’m really hoping that’s the next thing that is ready to go. It’s an incredibly well-written, contained thriller that takes place in a lighthouse in the 1920’s – almost like The Shining – that type of psychological horror. It’s one of those insane page-turners where you just can’t believe how cool all the characters are, and the plot twists… it’s just really well-done. I’ve also written my own script for a contained thriller/time-travel movie that I’m excited to put out there.

Crackle’s Dead Rising: Watchtower, a feature film adaptation of the hit video game franchise, will be premiering on March 27th. Check it out, and keep that Zombrex handy!

The cast includes Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives,” “Dallas”), Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a Time”), Virginia Madsen (Candyman, Sideways), Dennis Haysbert (Men, Women & Children), comic actor Rob Riggle (22 Jump Street, Let’s Be Cops), Harley Morenstein (“Epic Meal Time”), Keegan Connor Tracey (“Bates Motel,” “Once Upon A Time”), and Aleks Paunovic (This Means War).

Sony’s Crackle will give the 90-minute feature, directed by Leprechaun: Origins’ Zach Lipovsky, an exclusive digital release in the U.S. before the film receives a multi-platform release on SVOD, VOD, DVD, and TV.

The script was written by Tim Carter, who also produces alongside Tomas Harlan under their Contradiction Films banner (the same company that produced Mortal Kombat: Legacy). Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers, G.I. Joe) is the executive producer.

As in the video game, Dead Rising: Watchtower is set during a zombie apocalypse. When a mandatory government vaccine fails, a group of survivors must evade infection while hunting down the root of the epidemic, which leads back to a government conspiracy.

Dead Rising Watchtower



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