by Heidi J. Hormel ’85
October 3, 2011
Editing the Zombie King are, from left, Matt Guariglia ’12, Pat Reiher ’12 and Sean Lyness ’11.
The cast and crew of the only zombie movie filmed at
Dickinson College pitched in not for a class, not for money and (so far) not
for fame. The movie, made on a $176.14 budget, was created because a group of
students had a passion for film.
’11, producer, writer and director of the 18-minute Zombie King, credited
friends Anthony Silverman ’12 (who plays the zombie king) and Brendan Gallagher
’10 for coming up with the idea of a zombie musical, which Lyness adapted into
a screenplay for a film-studies class.
Lyness decided that he wanted to adapt that script into a film that could be
shot on campus. First, he needed to slash his zombie spoof from 30 to 18 pages.
Next the Middle East-studies major and film-studies minor needed help. Lots of
convinced friends and fellow film-studies minors, Patrick Reiher ’12, an
English major, and Bryna Hautau ’11, a French and francophone-studies major, to
sign on to the project.
that he agreed “for the fun of the project and to accomplish something. We’re
really interested in film.” He served as director of cinematography after
discovering his love for aiming a camera.
February and May, the trio, along with about 25 cast and crew, filmed Zombie
King on campus. “Getting everybody in the same place was one of the biggest
challenges,” Lyness said.
line producer, brought her organizational strengths to the film. Her job was to
make sure the shooting schedule worked out, which included five to six hours of
filming every Saturday and Sunday.
said that the help and support of Nancy Mellerski, professor of French and film
studies, was invaluable, especially in getting the Department of Public Safety
to approve the use of toy guns on campus.
“I’m glad I
got to observe them working in this way,” Mellerski said. “When students do
something they love, they come alive in a different way.”
courses are incorporated across the curriculum in a number of departments. In
2011, eight students graduated with minors.
the time commitment, film-studies students have not tried this sort of project
before, Mellerski said. In film studies 101, however, students are required to
produce a short montage and have a chance to create a three-minute narrative
film as well.
with input from Brenda Landis and Andy Petrus, both of instructional &
media services, helped the group organize a showing of the rough cut during
Senior Week in May.
finished the final cut of Zombie King, and the producers are looking for film
festivals that will accept it. “We all recognize that it’s not going to win an
Oscar. It’s not going to be the next big thing,” Reiher said.
Zombie King crew wants as many people as possible to see it, and they also want
the film to be included in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which a showing
at a festival can achieve.
Zombie King was in the can, the trio worked on another project this
summer—ROWS, a film shot in Maryland by David Warfield, Dickinson’s instructor
of screenwriting and digital video production.
was assistant to the cinematographer on ROWS, is back on campus this fall. He
will not be making his own film, but his thesis will feature his passion for
graduates have other plans. Lyness wants to return to the Middle East or North
Africa and work in the region, where he previously filmed a documentary in
Uganda for Bicycles Against Poverty and worked with a defense contractor in
Jordan. Hautau wants to work in the film industry with plans to stay in the
Baltimore-Washing-ton, D.C., area.
doesn’t have a film major, but it does have a strong core of film devotees,”
said Reiher. He and his Zombie King collaborators proved that filmmaking is a
labor of love and sleepless nights. As Hautau noted, “I was blissfully unaware
of how much of my life [Zombie King] would consume. Toward the end, it was
awful. There were not enough hours in the day.”