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How to be undead: Zombie classes, auditions for film to be conducted tonight

July 19th, 2011 11:24 pm by Madison Mathews

What happens when the population of Earth is wiped out by a virus, turning nearly everyone into flesh-hungry soldiers in the army of the undead?
“Radio Z,” a feature-length independent film produced in Erwin, will set out to answer that question as a small group of survivors attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives three years after the fall of civilization.
“There’s very few people left in our movie. All of the big heroes who were left are now gone, so it’s mostly just cowards and people that are hiding that are left,” production manager A.J. Rose said.
The main character is slowly going crazy from the solitude and decides that it’s time to find other survivors, Rose said.
While there are many obstacles the main characters have to overcome, the lumbering hordes of zombies, or creatures, as Rose’s production refers to them, is the main source of frustration.
That’s why a free acting class and audition will be held at the King’s Centre, 300 E. Main St., in downtown Johnson City tonight at 7 for anyone wishing to tap into their inner zombie and be taken through the ranks of becoming “zombified.”
The class is being held in preparation for a scene that will be filmed in Johnson City Friday.
While previous “zombification” classes have been held during “Radio Z’s” production, tonight’s differs from the normal flesh-hungry, shuffling zombies seen in George A. Romero’s “Living Dead” series.
Rose said the creatures in Friday’s pivotal scene are in a different class of monster ­­— a group of new “ape-like” creatures that make themselves known as the characters dealing with everything else that comes with a zombie apocalypse.
Class participants are asked to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring a lawn chair. During the class, the participants will learn how to walk, talk and look like the monsters, in addition to learning fight choreography and how to deal with special effects.
Initially, “Radio Z” was going to be funded by AYU Film Enterprises, a Mississippi-based Internet film company, but due to several things falling through, AYU allowed the film rights to lapse.
Rose, who wrote the script for the film, pulled together the funding and bought the rights back in order to make it herself with a local crew through her production company, Joy Everlasting Films.
With a rocky start to the film’s production, Rose said the shoot has gone extremely well so far.
“So far, the shoot has gone much, much better than expected. We didn’t expect nearly this amount of interest in it. We didn’t expect this many people to come out and want to be a part of it,” she said.
The outpouring of support from the town of Erwin, where the majority of the film is set, has been overwhelming, Rose said.
While most zombie stories of today feature ample amounts of gore and harsh language, “Radio Z” is more akin to 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” than 2009’s “Zombieland.”
“We wanted to focus on some issues in society and the easiest way to do that without making it boring is to make a monster movie and have the societal pressures and ills be defined by a monster. The cheapest monster we thought of were zombies,” Rose said.
With pop culture now thirsty for vampires thanks to series like “Twilight” and “True Blood,” the resurgence of zombie madness seemed to slow down. But with AMC’s Emmy-nominated series “The Walking Dead” and cameras rolling on a big budget production of zombie war book “World War Z,” the zombie craze is still kicking — much like the undead themselves.
“It seemed like people would want to watch this and listen to what we have to say,” Rose said. “We didn’t plan it this way, but it’s working out very well.”
Following the class, the crew will reveal the location of Friday’s shoot and that day’s shooting schedule.
For more information on the film’s production, visit

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