Butcher Bird Studios announces the start of principal photography for its zombie-themed dark comedy BETTER OFF ZED. Helmed by director Travis Stevens (Linked; Shelf Life) and with a script penned by 2015 Nicholl Fellowship-winner Amy Tofte, Better Off Zed stars Graham Sibley (Sully; Nanking; Zombie Honeymoon) and Christine Woods (Hello Ladies; The Walking Dead; About a Boy). The film is being produced by Linda Morel (Key & Peele; Teachers).
For the last decade, Guy (Sibley) has worked a mentally and physically demanding 80-hour week, a daily grind that has slowly crushed his soul; while his wife Paige (Woods), a free-spirit with multiple fine arts degrees to her name, has spent their marriage chasing artistic inspiration. When the zombie apocalypse comes, Guy is ecstatic: no more grueling work, no more monotony, no more hopeless future. He spends his day in idyllic splendor, living life in the moment… while Paige snaps into survival mode, taking on the role of pragmatist, figuring out how to secure their perimeter, stretch out their food supply, and following news reports for any glimmer of hope that they might be able to escape. They have, in essence, switched places. And with this new dynamic, all of the small fissures pressured beneath the surface of their relationship finally crack open, forcing them to deal not only with Armageddon, but with a potentially far more insidious threat… each other.
BETTER OFF ZED serves as a metaphor for the claustrophobia of modern living and modern relationships, as well as the struggle for the inner artist in all of us. Director Stevens says that, “Everyone who wants to be an artist is just crushed by making a living, finding inspiration, even just getting people to notice. In a way Zed is giving a voice to that frustration… with zombies.”
Butcher Bird Studios is a creative studio and production company founded by director-producers Steven Calcote, Jason Milligan, Luis Reyes, Michael Shlain and Travis Stevens. Butcher Bird Studios creates cutting-edge branded and narrative content across mediums including digital, television, interactive and virtual reality. BETTER OFF ZED is the company’s first feature film.
Travis Stevens is an award-winning director and writer (Slamdance, NYCIFF) working in Hollywood, CA. Grounding his work in real life experiences, Travis’ past jobs have included time in the Army, working as an EMT, harvesting tissue for an eye organ donor clinic, as well as in the entertainment industry for companies in roles that span from production to post production. BETTER OFF ZED is his second feature film.
Amy Tofte won a 2015 Nicholl Fellowship for her feature script Addis Abeka. A graduate of the prestigious CalArts MFA writing program, her films and plays have garnered accolades across the country and internationally. Her short film Other Side won Best Independent Short at the 2016 IFS Film Festival in Los Angeles. And, most recently, her play FleshEatingTiger premiered in Melbourne, Australia.
Graham Sibley began his career starring in the highly-lauded cult classic Zombie Honeymoon, executive produced by John Landis. From there, he appeared in the Emmy-Award winning film Nanking, directed by two-time Academy Award Winner Bill Guttentag and starring Woody Harrelson. Other credits include television roles on The OC, Grey’s Anatomy, Unforgettable, Aquarius, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Newsroom; as well as in the film Before the Sun Explodes, alongside fellow Better Off Zed co-star Christine Woods; and in the upcoming Clint Eastwood film Sully, starring Tom Hanks. Graham is also a co-founder of Los Angeles-based IAMA Theater Company.
Christine Woods starred opposite Stephen Merchant on HBO’s Hello Ladies, as well as in an impressive array of television shows and films, such as The Walking Dead, About a Boy, and Perfect Couples; and she has recently wrapped the Netflix film Handsome with Jeff Garlin, Natasha Lyonne and Amy Sedaris; and Unt. Macon Blair Project starring Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey. She has also garnered accolades for her stage roles. As a member of the prestigious IAMA Theater Company, Christine earned a Stage Raw Award nomination for her role in A Dog’s House. Other credits include the television shows Flash Forward and Go On, and the films Dean—from writer/director Demetri Martin and winner of the Tribeca Film Festival—and Wild Man, where she starred alongside Mike Vogel and Kate Upton.
Linda Morel is a producer best known for her work on Key & Peele and Teachers. She began her career in the music industry with Warner Music as an International Artist Development Manager for artists such as The Deftones, Bette Midler and Chaka Khan. Morel made the leap into television as the Production Coordinator on Nickelodeon’s The Brothers Garcia. Since then she has worked in production for such outlets as USA, Comedy Central, TV Land, and NBC, as well as working on several critically acclaimed films.