The days of renting heavy film equipment to make independent zombie movies are over. For this current generation, the ability to make zombie movies is as close as the nearest iPhone 4.
“Zombie Case Study,” for example, is a clever and harrowing independent short written and directed by Sam O’Sullivan that he shot entirely on an iPhone 4. Making the medium part of the message, “Zombie Case Study” is about two friends who use an iPhone to document the effects of a zombie bite when the apocalypse begins and one of them gets chomped on by a zombie.
Mobile. Small. Easy to use. Devices like the iPhone 4 are increasingly becoming tools of choice for young, independent filmmakers like “Zombie Case Study” director Sam O’Sullivan who don’t want to be weighed down by the physical and cost limitations of conventional film equipment.
“I’m a big fan of maintaining momentum and enthusiasm when I’m working,” O’Sullivan told me, “and the style of this film and the iPhone meant that we shot the film is under two days. When making a film it’s easy to get bogged down with technical difficulties and each one takes its toll. Also, the size of the iPhone means you can get some shots that aren’t possible with other cameras – like the opening shot that swings up and down around my shoulder.”
While “Zombie Case Study” certainly has a novel production, what makes the short most unique is the way it plays with our expectations about a zombie scenario and is able to successfully suggest more in our imagination than we see on screen, which makes the short able to turn on a dime from the humorous to the harrowing.
When I asked about O’Sullivan’s inspiration for “Zombie Case Study,” he said it was the saturation of amateur footage on the mainstream news that gave him the idea. “In fact, it has been for about ten years now and we are so saturated in it,” he explains, “how do we know what’s important and what isn’t? The major media providers filter it for us but they can’t be perfect. It’s a big world with lots of information. Some stuff is bound to fall through the cracks. ZCS isn’t supposed to be a comment on any particular event of recent years but I hope certain parts resemble the type of footage people have become used to seeing when major news first breaks.”