A few weeks ago, I played a zombie in a short film called ‘Zombie Man‘ (by Solar Light Films). You might have read about my make-up test here.
It was a really fun and crazy shoot, but I also learned a few valuable lessons, which I am happy to share with my fellow ACTORS! (umm, Filmmakers might want to take notes too)
Forget about what you should do in a Zombie Apocalypse! Most of us already know – if you don’t, just google it.
The following is what I’ve learned from playing a ZOMBIE on a FILM SET in a NATURE PRESERVE for one day.
Pay close attention and take heed! You’ll thank me later.
1. Zombie clothes are supposed to be really dirty and torn! Don’t run to the wardrobe department with perceived wardrobe malfunctions. As a matter of fact, get into character by rolling around in the dirt and grass a bit! The dirtier your fingernails, the better! And ladies – forget the secret little touch-ups for hair and make-up in between shots. You are an ugly, undead creature, a zombie – accept it! No need for that hairspray either. Exhibit A:
2. To save your face and not ruin chances for future acting gigs, make sure your makeup artist uses Vaseline on your eyebrows so they wouldn’t get pulled out when removing the latex after the shoot. Thank you, Yoni!
3. Blood is sticky! I don’t know how many times I pulled my bloody bullet-holed pant-leg away from my skin – the sticking power is actually quite amazing, even after 10 hours!
Mosquitos and other insects love sticky blood! Oh, and the corn syrup, spirit gum or liquid latex that are used as as an adhesive for the F/X makeup are also critter magnets… Bring bug spray!
4. Be patient… Being under layers of F/X makeup, prosthetics AND wearing custom contact lenses only feels weird for the first hour or so. You’ll get used to it. Or not. But as soon as you do, you’ll have other things to worry about:
5. Zombie makeup actually oozes in the hot sun. And you’re gonna get even itchier and stickier. If you’re the claustrophobic type, this might not be the gig for you! Same goes for the prissy diva types.
Don’t despair! There are some pros to balance out the cons:
6. You don’t have to worry too much about getting sunburned. See exhibit B:
7. Snakes are scared of Zombies. At least that’s what the filmmakers told us. I guess we scared the tarantulas away too. Yay!
8. No lines to memorize! Don’t try to form words out of your moans and sneak in some dialogue – you’re not gonna get upgraded or given any lines, period! You’re a friggin’ Zombie! Just practice your groans, moans and snorts. Get creative – drool, slobber, burp or even fart! Zombies can’t control those bodily functions, right? Don’t forget to work on that shambling walk. Or frenzied run. Depends on what kind of zombie you are.
9. Sometimes brains just isn’t enough. Guts are o.k., but Mexican food is best. Try to eat a balanced diet while on the set.
10. Other Zombies need love too! If you see your fellow zombie actor in distress, help him or her out! It really sucks trying to eat that little cookie with sticky, entrail-covered fingers. Give a zombie a hug, too. It helps on a long shoot.
Hopefully this will help you prepare for the onslaught of zombie flicks that are in preparation or already being filmed. Feel free to spread the word if you find my advice helpful in any way. See you on the set somewhere, some day!
A quick shout-out and ‘Thank you’ to my MUAs Yoni Baker, Eva Pfaff, Cayse Lahrman and Steve Wenger for making me look so gross, and also making sure I left the set without any permanent damage!