I recently got the opportunity to watch the new film, Zombie Ninjas vs. Black Ops–yes, that’s really the title–and I also got to chat with the film’s co-writer and co-producer, Kylie Claude. You guys, this movie is completely out of control. Take a look at the film’s trailer:
Here’s the basic plot of the movie:
In the clandestine research tower of a ruthless Japanese security and arms company, Saisei Security, scientist MALI awakens employed mercenaries killed in combat, their death giving rise to a new, vicious breed of zombie… ZOMBIE NINJAS. Trapped amongst unsuspecting civilians, including former tactical operative DILLON (Adam T Perkins), the ZOMBIE NINJAS commanded by a ferocious leader (Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei) are unleashed in the inner city high-rise. They soon face off with the covert response mission deployed to fight back. This elite black ops team underestimates the brutality of their encounter, which ultimately tests their loyalty and friendship, resulting in a frightful assault between these two highly skilled lethal forces and DILLON thrust in the middle fighting for survival.
I’ll be honest, I had no clue what to expect from this movie, but it is a fun, action-packed ride from start to finish. If you’re looking for a heavy, serious zombie drama, you should probably look somewhere else. This movie is all about completely uncorked, ridiculous, out of control action, zombie fun. It’s available now, so head over to the website to pick yourself up a copy–you won’t be sorry you did.
Like I said, I got the opportunity to chat with one of the film’s writers and producers, Kylie, and it gave me even more of an appreciation for the film, the world they’re trying to develop, and life as an indie filmmaker. Here’s our conversation!
Kendall: You and your husband both wrote and produced this, correct?
Kylie: Yes. My husband and I developed the concept together and we kind of wrote it together, but primarily I guess I was the “chief writer” on it, juggling that with producing it. It was definitely fun.
Kendall: Which role did you find more challenging?
Kylie: That’s a really tough question! They’re both really challenging. I’d have to say that the most challenging part for me was the writing because so much rests on the writing, the concept, the idea, and with a movie like Zombie Ninjas vs. Black Ops, you’re not going to be winning any literary awards, it’s more about having lots of action and excitement. So trying to balance that into a script was the most challenging, but also the most fun.
Kendall: Where did the idea come from? That has been my biggest question!
Kylie: Well that in itself is a quite convulted story, but basically we’re action geeks and movie geeks, first and foremost. We love action movies, and being indie filmmakers we’ve got to have ideas that can be feasibly shot without buckets of money, and so my husband always wanted to see two very sort of capable combat forces go at each other. So he initially thought Ninjas vs. SWAT, but Ninjas being more restricted to knives and swords up against SWAT’s full tactical artillery, we thought it would be a bit of a no-brainer. So we thought how could we soup up the ninjas so they could be a mroe tactical opponent and so we loved the idea of the Bourne Legacy where the assets are all genetically enhanced, and we thought that was a cool concept. So we thought why don’t we do that with our ninjas, making them harder to kill, so we developed the zombie idea. And the interesting part is that they’re not really zombies. You being a zombie fan know they’re not your traditional zombies, they’re not actually even zombies, but it’s the most plausible answer that our characters in our movie can come up with, because they were once dead. Now they’re alive. I mean, what else do you call them? So at the loss of a better term, it kind of fit. So we really liked that part of it.
Kendall: Zombies are kind of all over the place, especially with shows like Walking Dead. And you said your zombies are different from what we normall see. Where did that inspiration come from to have zombies, but zombies that were a bit different?
Kylie: Well we love zombie movies, but I wouldn’t say we’re hardcore zombie fans, so we’re very conscious of not delving into an area that we couldn’t necessarily do justice to. WE’re action fans, so we tried to apply it to something that we knew. So our zombies, we wanted to come up with something different because zombie movies are everywhere–it’s very saturated. And for obvious reasons because they’re very entertaining. We wanted to come up with something a little bit unique, and we wanted our zombies to be a little bit more ferocious. So rather than something that’s easy to run away from, we wanted our zombies to feel more like a physical threat. So unless you have heavy artillery or something like that you don’t really stand a chance. So from an action standpoint, that was the most significant catalyst to turn them into something more ferocious. I don’t know if you recall the movie I Am Legend?
Kylie: The creatures, the zombie creatures in I Am Legend, we really dug those. They were really ferocious, they were ruthless and very scary, so we really loved that element and hoped we could inject a little bit of that into our creatures.
Kendall: Yeah, that first action sequence was when I decided I was in love with the film, because it’s so out of control and oh gosh, it was fantastic. Now there’s a web series tied into this, right?
Kylie: Yes! We’re really excited about it. It’s an animated comic webseries, so the comic itself is a little bit different. So a lot of animated series have that traditional voiceover, but we really wanted to tie in that animation with a traditional comic feel, so we’ve got things like speech bubbles and stuff like that. And the comic series is very wondeful opportunity to really explore and expand the Zombie Ninjas world, so things that we can’t necessarily put into a film production, we can achieve with a comic webseries. SO we wanted to start it initially as a bit of a prelude to the movie, but the story does continue after the movie story line. And we’ve got big plans for quite a big world, and quite a ferocious world. So we’re really looking forward to bringing in new installments as well.
Kendall: Can you talk about what you’re envisioning for your world for this?
Kylie: Well it’s, the sorts of things we can incorporate into the web series is a lot more of the action brutality. A lot more of the gore. A lot more is revealed about what these creatures are as well. We know they’re zombie ninjas, but as we’ve talked about that’s a title given to them by the characters for want of a better term so we find out more about how they’ve come about, what their plans are and how far across the globe they’ve spread, so we’re very excited about it.
Kendall: As an indie filmmaker, what challenges have you experienced as you’ve tried to make this movie a reality?
Kylie: Like any indie filmmaker, there’s a raft of challenges, and entering into making a movie is obviously a massive, massive undertaking. So aside from things like virtually no money and limited resources, having such a small crew and having to do so much of it yourself from the lighting to shooting on location to even doing all of that production stuff to even post production. My husband edited the movie, did all the music, sound design, so doing everything is exhausting so exhaustion and energy is a challenge. But I’d say probably the biggest one that we’d love to improve for next time is to allow for more time. Because you can’t afford to pay cast for so many rehearsals, time on set, you get limitations for how long you can access the set, so having more time allows us to prepare a lot more to do more takes so that we can perfect the shooting as well as the performances and storyline. So I’d say time. Time is the biggest advantage and it was the biggest challenge.
Kendall: I’m sure there’s lots of memorable moments from a movie like this, but what would you say was your most memorable moment from the set?
Kylie: You’re right, there’s lots! One that stood out to me where we realized, “Oh my god, we’re having so much fun,” and you can only do this as guerilla indie filmmakers. We have one of our shots at the end of the movie where Soa who plays our zombie ninja boss escapes the building and it is the first time out of the building. Shooting that scene with him running in the street was so memorable because we really literally had to wing it. There were no road closures, we just went at 3am in the morning, we were like, “Okay, let’s just have a look.” The city was, at that time, deserted thankfully because it was during a weeknight as well so we found the intersection that we wanted and put a person on each corner to watch traffic and we just were running around with a camera and shooting it and we just had so much fun. It felt real free, guerilla filmmaking stuff. There were a couple of times where we’d notice the CCTV would turn to see what we were doing, so we’d have to get in and get out again. I’m not sure what would have happened if someone would have come up to us. They probably would have been freaked out. Sola, in life, is this huge, imposing figure of a person, and dressed as a zombie, yelling and screaming in the middle of the road? It was just a lot of fun because we just had to wing it.
Kendall: When you were writing the script, what kind of challenges did you encounter? I feel like this would be an interesting writing process all the way around.
Kylie: Trying to balance enough action with enough revelation of the story. Because as I said, first and foremost it’s an action movie. We weren’t wanting to really compromise divulging the story through writing forsaking the action. Action was our priority, and we wanted our audience to feel like they were on an adrenaline rush from start to finish. Writing for a story where it’s just that particular snapshot in time where you don’t have the luxury of going back in time to describe things with this overarching timeline, keeping things condensed in a challenge. Keeping that hour and a half as action-packed as possible while telling the audience what they need to follow along with the story and the characters. Short answer is writing in enough exciting action.
Kendall: You’ve mentioned the webseries, and you’re really just creating a huge universe with this Zombie Ninjas and Black Ops story. How long have you been playing with this idea? Was this sort of a passion project for you?
Kylie: We’ve definitely been working on this project for the past few years. We initially wanted to shoot it at an exterior location that we had in mind, so we had a different timeline in mind, then we got access to a building. We were really fortunate to get that opportunity. As indie filmmakers you don’t get that all that often, so we decided to take advantage of that, rework the script and shoot it in that context. So that was a real advantage for us and was really exciting to take advantage of. Since then the world has really expanded. Shooting some of the characters we’ve thought, “Oh, yeah, this would be a really great video game,” and we’d really love to see it and explore it. So it definitely is a passion project, but we put that passion into everything we do, so it’s not necessarily more than other scripts that we have in the works that we’d love to develop as well. But yeah, it’s definitely been been a great couple of years.
Kendall: Who are some of your film making role models?
Kylie: That’s a great question! From a director’s standpoint there’s a number of them. Tony Scott for me personally, I really hold him in really, really high regard. I just find his movies, he’s action beautiful, the cinematography was, I feel, very ahead of his time. Very dynamic, very visually spectacular, so definitely Tony Scott. Quentin Tarantino is like a genius to me. He’s like my hero. I think that he’s incredible and I love that he takes inspiration from filmmakers that have stepped before him. He honors them in his films by being inspired and using some of their techniques. But in terms of mastering characters, he’s just phenomenal. And then I also love all movies and can be a bit of a romantic at times, so Nancy Myers and Nora Ephron, back in the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan kind of days on the romantic side of things. So you know, very well rounded. But I would say JCVD? Jean Claude Van Damme? He’s like, so great. I know it’s very ecclectic group, but off the top of my head they’re the ones that make me want to make movies and get into the business more seriously.
Kendall: How long have you been making movies?
Kylie: I’ve always been a movie geek. It’s always been a dream, but in terms of actually going for it, probably the past seven or so years we’ve been exploring how we can actually do it, honing our skills and playing around with it. But certainly more seriously in the last sort of 4 or 5 years we made our first movie called Dead Time a few years back, and that was a great sort of learning experience to really explore what it’s like to take movies from a short sort of inter to feature length to feature film. At the same time with Zombie Ninjas we’re still learning as we go. So for me, movies have always been a passion. So finding our fit in where we fit with movies has kind of been what we’re trying to explore.
Kendall: What is it like working with your husband?
Kylie: Well we’re really lucky. It sounds really cheesy, but we really gel together. Anyone on set would know that. It’s not always perfect harmony, but we really compliment where we’re so fortunate that we have a collective goal, that one dream that we share together, so we can help each other. If we’re feeling challenged or down at times, the other person can go and help the other person up, and vice-versa. It really does help. It’s a massive undertaking, you get beaten around, people have opinions, so sometimes emotionally it can be difficult. So it can be really great to have each other and to have each other’s backs. I don’t think it would be possible without him. I really believe that we’re such a great unit together, and because we’ve found each other we’re able to pursue our dreams. It sounds cheesy, but.
Kendall: I totally get it! What are you working on next?
Kylie: Certainly further exploration of the comic series, and we haven’t made any hard and fast decisions yet on a feature direction, but we have a number of cool scripts that we’re wanting to develop. Maybe we’ll go in a bit of a different direction, we’re not sure, but for now we’re really focusing on developing the Zombie Ninjas world. Also with distributing we want to spend as much time as we can getting it out there, globally, so that’s really going to take a lot of our time. No real hard and fast decisions made just yet, but we’ll definitely be looking at doing a new feature as soon as we can.
Kendall: Where can we find you online?
Kylie: ZombieNinjasMovie.com, ZombieNinjasComic.com, Twitter and Facebook.
Thanks so much to Kylie for chatting with us! Don’t forget to head to the website to get yourself a copy of the movie, and let me know your favorite quirky horror or action movie is!