ORIGINAL IP: Feature Film
STATUS: In Post Production
DIRECTOR: Travis Stevens
STARRING: Christine Woods and Graham Sibley
Tagline: What if the apocalypse came… and you were happy about it?
Logline: A lazy thirty-something is happy to sit out the zombie apocalypse in his fortified suburban abode, until his wife acts on a more pragmatic strategy for survival, forcing him to become the zombie killer he was trying to avoid.
Theme: A relationship story set against the backdrop of the Zombie Apocalypse. A microcosmic look at the usually broad-themed zombie genre.
Have you ever worked at one of those jobs that ground you to the bone? Working day in, day out for months on end with no breaks, skipped meals, missed weekends? A job that kept you absent from home, absent from the world, absent from your own life? Imagine a moment of fancy, one where you fantasize about what it would take to escape the trap of time, money, debt, and obligation. If the end of the world came… what if you were happy about it?
Meet Guy, a clock-punching working stiff who has been whittled down to a fraction of his former self. He’s pragmatic, pays his bills, stays just ahead of his mortgage, and has abandoned any hope of ever relaxing again. His wife Paige, by contrast, has been trying to find herself since grad school, toying now with becoming a painter, but of course she abhors the commercial. When the zombie apocalypse erupts around them, the worker drone Guy welcomes it. No more job. No more mortgage. No more stress. A beer, a lounge chair, a good, strong lock on the gate and he’s set. Paige, however, suddenly finds her inner survivalist. She begins to strategize how they can eat, fight, and even escape. Their roles have been reversed.
Better Off Zed is, at its core, a story about a husband and wife forced to reevaluate their relationship against the stresses of one outrageous circumstance. It’s a question that perhaps gets asked more often than one would think nowadays: Would you want to be caught in a Zombie Apocalypse with your spouse?
Using horror to highlight the humor, tenderness, trust, and tragedy in an isolated relationship is an exciting challenge. Zed is constructed around the idea of elevating the normal to the supernormal by replacing the humdrum nature of everyday stresses with the exciting and terrifying possibility of being eaten by zombies. Playing on established horror tropes and twisting them into sometimes scary, sometimes funny situations drives both characters and audience down a what-would-you-do-if-it-were-you path. After coming up with the story idea, I looked for a talented woman writer that was excited to work on this script. The concept came from such a strong organic place from me (I was that daily grinding working just wishing the world would end so I could get some rest) that I wanted to be sure that it was balanced against an equally strong female voice could lend weight and credibility to the relationship.
For the physical production, I want to keep things streamlined and rely on practical effects over post effects. By eliminating computer-generated elements, I want to create a real environment for actors and audience to live in. Working closely with my Director of Photography and Production Designer, we were able to come up with a plan that emphasizes elegant simplicity and at the same time maximizing cinematic images. Shooting on a RED Dragon 6k with Panavision Cine-lenses gives us the eye-popping imagery that big screen audience eat up, but at the same time embracing the out of the box, inventive thinking of Indie Cinema. I want to incorporate the best of both worlds: an ascetically pleasing image imbued with an interesting and energetic style telling a fast paced and interesting story.Travis Stevens