They come to the conventions in hordes, willing to wait in long lines to meet their favorite stars, buy cool zombie stuff or as cosplayers prepared to either take out some problematic walkers or as a zombie themselves. Many fans take a pilgrimage to locations where The Walking Dead or other zombie movies were shot, to feel like they are truly a part of it. The fans of our favorite The Walking Dead characters, alive or undead, are a devoted group of people. There is a community within this fandom that is amazing to belong to. Their numbers growing quickly along with the franchise, zombie fans are not going away anytime soon. The newest Walking Dead TV show, “Fear the Walking Dead” starts this weekend and the show will gain a whole new following of fans.
The documentary “The Walkers Among Us” interviews fans that have been there since the comic book debuted in 2003 all the way into the living rooms of casual fans of the AMC TV show. The film successfully explains that fans of the show are more than just crazy zombie lovers, by examining the community and friendships that are formed over their love for the series. We get to see how much the cast members care about their fans and give back to them. It shows us that the fans have hope that humanity will always prevail in the worst case situations. We also see the dedication of the cosplayers with their very convincing costumes, some searching for months to find the exact same piece worn on the show, or creating their own carbon copy from scratch.
This reporter caught up with one of the filmmakers- Cristian Macht, to ask a few questions about “The Walkers Among Us”
Question: Tell me about Cris and Ian. How did you guys get into film making?
Cris: “I was originally in the music business for a long time. I wanted to come up with an idea of how to keep my Star Wars fandom going. I had an idea to make a movie about it since we were so passionate about Star Wars. It turned out to be more expensive then we thought it would be and after asking a person in the business who could do it for me, they offered to do it. A few years later after reconnecting with Ian Vacek, a friend from Kindergarten who went to school for film making, and asking him the same question about doing a sequel to the Star Wars documentary, he also said he would do it. I got lucky- I had an idea I was passionate about, went to a person in the industry and they both said yeah, I want to do this for you! Later Ian and I both left our jobs and started the company Lust For Life Productions which is the company that did The Walkers Among Us.”
Question: What made you switch from Star Wars to The Walking Dead to do a documentary on?
Cris: “I was not originally a horror fan, but after my wife turned me on to The Walking Dead TV show I realized it is not just a show about zombies, it’s a show about people. Ian wanted to something other than Star Wars and we really wanted to get the ball rolling on a production from our new company. Knowing how popular The Walking Dead is and seeing that the fans were passionate and reminded me of the Star Wars fans, I said what if we do a documentary on the fans of The Walking Dead? I looked into it and no one else had done a Walking Dead fan documentary. So the timing was good, and I was also a fan of the show. I brought in a Star Wars friend that is also a huge Walking Dead fan to be our creative consultant, just to make sure that no geeky detail was overlooked! We wanted to make sure this was a documentary for the fans, by the fans. I’ve seen so many documentary’s where you can tell that the person behind the camera is not a fan of the genre, the people filming it are not making it because of love for the subject, but just because the subject fell in their lap. We wanted the Walking Dead fans to love this because the passion of the fandom shines through in our production.”
Question: What was your favorite part of the documentary?
Cris: “There is so much I truly like about it, but there is one moment that to me was the lightning in the bottle. There is a kid that was dying of cancer, and Bradly Egel who is the founder of The Walking Hope got me in touch with him. I thought as a film maker to get the footage of this kid getting to meet his favorite stars Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln on set in Atlanta via Facetime at the hospital, was such a golden moment because it truly shows what the actors are all about. It gave this boy his last wish to meet the actors from his favorite TV show and it showed that the actors aren’t super full of themselves and were willing to give back to a fan. There were other fans too, that took the time to talk to me and share their stories and I was able to put them in the documentary; that was also really special to me. I’m kind of an emotional junkie and as a film maker I want to make people cry, I want to show them that fandoms are a very serious thing and they do have some very deep and heavy moments, not just a bunch of geeky people running around at conventions. We are all really the same: we are all fanatical about something. Some people collect things, some are fans of music and some belong to fandoms. That’s one of the things that I try to shoot for in my storytelling in a documentary, I want people I interview to be celebrated and get a chance to be understood for what they are crazy about. Also to finish off the question about my favorite part of the documentary; I really enjoyed going to the different locations around Atlanta where The Walking Dead filmed. Atlanta is truly the heart of it, since that’s where the show takes place. I think a lot of the magic is there and it was cool to put some of those recognizable locations in the film. I don’t think if we hadn’t gone down there we wouldn’t have half as cool of footage as we ended up with.”
Question: What was the Red Carpet Premiere like?
Cris: “I have been lucky to now have three red carpet premieres as a film maker. People came from long distances to see The Walkers Among Us and made it very special. I was really able to enjoy it because the other two seemed to go by so fast. Sharing a documentary brings all the people in it together and it turns into a kind of a family event, more then you can possibly imagine.”
Question: The Walkers Among Us is entered in the Louisville International Film Festival. Why there and how do you feel about your chances?
Cris: “We picked it for a couple of reasons, primarily because we filmed at one of the conventions there and Robert Kirkman is from right outside of there. We thought the people running the film festival might take interest in our film not only because of the topic, but because of the connection our film has with Louisville and the surrounding area. It was a long shot; we received a lot of rejections from other film festivals and we thought it was a fake email when we saw that we were accepted! Another appealing thing is that they have distribution opportunities and to me that’s super important. Our sales for The Walkers Among Us was not as good as the Star Wars documentary, because there aren’t as many fans buying them. So I am really hoping the distribution at the festival will help us get picked up and maybe get a Netflix deal, that way people don’t have to shell the $ for a DVD. I’m hopeful for the film, but at the same time, if I get too hopeful I might get let down, so I’m going into it not expecting anything and I’m just very thankful they invited us to the festival.”
So keep your fingers crossed for The Walkers Among Us and that they win at the Louisville Int. Film Festival. The Walkers Among Us is still available for purchase directly from the filmmakers as well as a download, only at www.thewalkersamongus.com
Keep up on all the latest from The Walkers Among Us filmmakers on their Facebook page:
For more info on The Walking Hope go to: http://undeadwalking.com/2014/04/17/walking-hope-t-shirts-cancer-awareness/
The Walking Hope on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingHope2