‘Isle of the Dead’ Premieres on Syfy August 18th at 8PT/11ET
A new zombie thriller is about to hit the Syfy network tomorrow! Brought to you by the producers of “Z Nation” and Sharknado, the film stars D.C. Douglas (Resident Evil, Z-Nation), Maryse Ouellet Mizanin (WWE Diva) and Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey). To add into the fun, the cast and crew will also be live tweeting at the premiere using the hashtag #IsleOfTheDead, so get out your phones, get on twitter, watch the movie on Syfy, and join in with the cast and crew at the same time!
So here is the plot from their website: The story begins ten years ago, when an Army research post on a remote tropical island was decimated by a strange new virus. Now, a team of SEALS on a recon mission has gone missing on the island. When a Strike Team arrives to rescue them, they must deal with an onslaught of zombies. As they fight their way to the old lab facility, they realize that the Colonel in charge of the research station (D.C. Douglas) is still alive and still experimenting—the zombies are his creations, and every new wave the team faces is more vicious and ghastly than the one before.
I got to talk to director Nick Lyon via email about his quick and crazy experience directing Isle of the Dead. (Click here to read our interview with star D.C. Douglas.)
INTERVIEW WITH NICK LYON
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: How do you compare Isle of the Dead to other zombie projects you’ve done with The Asylum?
Nick Lyon: “I have done a few other zombie films with The Asylum, who have been great. They really have a great system for finishing films on time, and they sort of let me do what I do on set — except for an occasional friendly note. But overall, I would say that each movie is different. I usually try to create a new identity for each film as they all play in a different world.
Unlike Zombie Apocalypse or Rise of the Zombies, Isle of the Dead takes place on a tropical Island, so the biggest challenge was creating the world that it plays in, right here in L.A. We found a great botanical garden that did the job. In many ways that was simpler than the others, which take place in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The biggest problem with shooting Post-Apocalyptic is removing civilization, and with Isle of the Dead there was not much civilization to remove. It was supposed to be an island and a research facility, so connecting the two was all that needed to be done.
The other difference working on a film which was very shoestring was the budget, which mostly affected the actual shooting time and ability to hire and do make up on multiple zombies. A series like “Z Nation” has a machine in place and a larger Union crew that are set up for a larger output of make-up effects. In many ways Isle of the Dead was a lot more mobile and we had to be very creative with our resources. I am always amazed at how good our low budget local LA crews are and how well they deal with productions of this size. I am very grateful for them and their hard work and dedication.”
ZG: You had a very short shooting schedule. What were your challenges and how did you get such a great look?
NL: “The shoot was a mere 12 days. Or was it 11? It felt like 10…. the budget was super shoestring, and we had too much to do every single day. Otherwise it was a really fun and creative shoot, and I think we have a very entertaining film. The challenges of a short schedule are that you really have to be fast and select the coverage carefully. I sort of have a system I like to use which allows me to get the most in the edit bay. But sometimes we just don’t have enough time, and I have to think quickly and get a scene in the can — so that as a director I know that it will still be good, even if it might differ from what is on paper. On these tight budgets and schedules, there are rarely pick up days to clean things up, so I always think I better get it right the first time. It was great to work with the Laura Beth Love (director of photography) who shot the film. We wanted to have a look that was moody, but fast to shoot. So we went small with the package and high with atmosphere. It also helps to have a solid cast who know how to step on set and deliver. Otherwise, it’s about lensing angle selection, location selection, blocking and a gut feeling.”
ZG: How did you end up being the director of so many zombie type projects?
NL: “Maybe it goes back to the days of me being a mannequin restorer? That’s right, I repaired mannequins for a few years, sculpted new faces, repaired broken arms, painted eyes, placed new glass eyes in them and so on — I was in a 3000 square foot warehouse full of mannequins. I have always loved the dark, and I also enjoy creating post-apocalyptic worlds and scenarios. But really it all started with Species: The Awakening, where I also have a mutant type experiment that very much resembles a zombie.”
“I also direct other genres and especially love disaster, action, thrillers and drama, but I personally am intrigued most by zombies because the fear of a plague is something that we have as a society… and zombies just seem to be a reflection of our society’s fears. Perhaps that is why they are still going after all these years. We are all waiting for a plague of some sort, not that we would ever wish for it, but it’s just sort of a real possibility.”
ZG: So, do you have any more projects coming up with The Asylum?
NL: “I hope so, they do low budget better than almost anyone and are a shop that is self-contained, so you know the film will get done rather quickly. We are currently talking about a few projects. They are also very good about allowing a director some creative freedom and trusting that I will work in the best interest of the film without going over budget.”
ZG: Did you have any favorite moments during the shoot?
NL: “My favorite moment was packing up and leaving the infamous POO FACTORY, which is the water reclamation facility that we shot at. It smells like rotten eggs and poo, is mosquito infested, spider infested and methane gas occasionally is farted out of some pipe causing half the crew to dry heave and throw up. Second best was watching Joey Lawrence dancing alone in the middle of one of the Poo Factory hallways. I think he was rehearsing for an upcoming show.”
“Isle of the Dead” premiers Thursday, August 18th at 8PT/11ET on the Syfy network. Join the cast and crew while they are live tweeting at the premiere using the hashtag #IsleOfTheDead.