Eleanor Aulds, of Kingsport, may have recently been bitten by the acting bug, but this week it’s fair to say she was bitten by a zombie.
A retired senior who is “just looking for an adventure,” Aulds was more than ready to step into the undead spotlight Wednesday during a free acting class and audition for “Radio Z,” a feature-length independent horror film that’s being made in the area.
The film chronicles what life is like three years after a virus has turned nearly everyone in the world into flesh-hungry zombie-like creatures. A small band of survivors reeling from isolation and solitude decide to set out to find other people.
Just last month, Aulds appeared in an East Tennessee State University student film in which she played blood-covered zombie. That experience, coupled with her adventure-seeking and the fact that her picture from the set of the student film was used in Wednesday’s Johnson City Press, made Aulds want to return the land of the living dead.
“I’m just at the stage where I’m wanting to learn. I’m just wanting to learn anything and everything about film or theater and that’s why I find it very interesting,” she said.
While she already had experience playing a zombie, Aulds was still eager to learn about a monster she had never heard of before being made up as one last month.
After about an hour of instruction on everything from learning how to slowly shuffle around like a zombie to how to properly “rasp,” or mimic the action of speaking, Aulds was ready to step forward with the more than 100 people and show the crew of “Radio Z” she had what it took to play dead.
Seeing a group of local people, led by production manager A.J. Rose, who wrote and stars in the film, band together to create something entertaining was another reason Aulds was ready to put on the green makeup and act like a zombie.
“I just think it’s so fascinating and its so incredible the way they pull people together and teach you what to do,” she said. “The whole world of film is just something so new to me, and I like to learn and grow. It’s just fascinating.”
When she read about the zombie class and auditions for the film in the paper, Blaine Frohlich, a 19-year-old college student from Kingsport, thought being a zombie would be the perfect way to learn about acting.
“When I read it in the paper, I was kinda surprised because I didn’t think something like this would ever come to the Tri-Cities, cause it’s a small town, but I actually live in New York, so having an opportunity like this, I’ve always wanted to try it there, so I figured you might as start somewhere” she said before Wednesday’s audition.
As a fan of zombies, Frohlich was excited to learn the likes of Zombie 101 and learn to how to be one of the ape-like creatures featured in the scene that was filmed Friday.
“We learned how to rasp and walk like a zombie. Just different movements, which was really cool because you watch these things, and I’ve tried to mimic them before, so I kinda knew what they were doing but was interested,” she said.
Wanting to learn the way of the zombie paid off for Frohlich and her sister, who were both called back — along with Aulds and about 20 other people — for Friday’s scene, which Rose referred to as one of the film’s pivotal moments.
With the overwhelming response to the zombie class, Rose said it worked out because they found a lot of fantastic creature extras for the shoot.
“It was amazing to see it come to life like that. It’s one thing to get a lot of nice letters and emails and phone calls and it’s something altogether different to see a bunch of people rallying for you like that,” she said.
That support continued Friday as the extras arrived for makeup. After hours of sitting in makeup chairs and waiting for filming to begin, the cast and crew had to scramble at the last minute to find a replacement location. The hard work and patience of the extras worked out in the end Friday as they finally filmed the scene behind WJHL-TV in downtown Johnson City.
With a little more than 30 scenes left to shoot, Rose said the film is slated for an October release — just in time for Halloween.
But this isn’t your typical zombie movie, and Rose said there’s no foul language and very little gore in “Radio Z,” a horror film with a deeper message than buckets of blood.
For more information on Joy Everlasting Productions, “Radio Z” and the film’s production, visit www.undeadmovie.webs.com.