Zombies have been in popular culture for as long as anyone can remember. Whether it be George A Romero’s classic zombie flick Night of the Living Dead, Edgar Wright Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, or Resident Evil (the games, not the dreadful films) zombies, are basically part of the tapestry at this point. So, what do you get when you give three friends a budget to make their Zombie-horror- comedy film? I promise that’s not the start to a terrible joke, but the start to our brilliant interview with Miles Watts, Tony Hipwell and Hannah Bungard, which is conducted by our own Dom Smith, from the hopefully zombie-proof Soundsphere HQ.
In terms of success, the terrific trio knows after grafting for over ten years what it does and doesn’t mean for them. “As I’ve gotten older, just the simplest thing I can look at as being a success is being able to keep doing what I want to be doing, or at least in the creative sense. If I can just keep being able to make things on my terms, that’s a degree of success,” says Tony. Miles had a similar view to Tony, that success is “having the freedom to make the stuff you want to make.” He goes on to explain that he is very proud of what they have made. Hannah expands on what she views as a success saying, “As long as you’ve made something that you’re happy with it, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do.”
Since being created as a darkly comedic horror series around a decade ago, Zomblogalpse has gone from strength to strength ever since. With the series having over a million views online and a cult following, the trio have achieved artistic success on a very small budget. Now comes the movie version of Zomblogalypse, and with it, expectations that are sure to be exceeded.
On their notoriety, Miles muses that it had humble beginnings, and it soon took off. “Our mates watched it, which is great. And then their mates watched it, and then people on the internet started watching it, and gradually it caught on and then people started featuring the series on their websites and stuff.” With the series gradually catching on and gaining a fanbase, the plaudits and attention followed. The film also allows people who haven’t seen the earlier incarnation to watch the web series with a fresh perspective. “It’s nice to hear that people enjoy, not just the film, but like some people have gone back and then watch the web series and enjoyed that,” says Hannah.
With a lot more productions happening in the north thanks to Channel 4 and the BBC, what advice would the gang give for upcoming talent in the North? Miles ponders this and says, “It’s connecting with the right people who are noticing the quality of it.” Finding the right people seems to be the key here, and if you want to get your foot in the door of the industry, the best thing to do is to go out there and just do it. “We’ve learned the most from doing our own stuff,” says Hannah. But, it’s okay to have the odd misstep and failure as well. According to Tony, a lot of people are afraid of falling at the first hurdle. “I think learning to persevere is important.” He also mentions how important it is to find your niche within the industry, as not everyone has to be a director or director of photography. “I think that’s something really important to figure out again, which is, what’s your niche? What’s something your passionate about?”
With the levels of success the gang are reaching with a movie version of Zomblogalypse, do they ever have imposter syndrome? Hannah says that everybody does doubt themselves, but you just have to persevere and not judge it by what others think about it. “I think as long as you’re happy with what you’ve done, try not to judge it too much by what other people are gonna think.” Tony has a similar feeling, “I still get that myself, and then even when you get to a position, where you think, I think I figured it out – then you just see some sort of someone else’s work, who’s kind of in the same place as you and it’s like completely outstripping what you’ve done. You just think, ‘I’m a fraud.’” But, even the people who make it all look easy, it doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling behind the scenes. But it’s about persevering throughout.
In terms of what is lined up in the trio’s future, there are a lot of exciting developments. Tony has made a short called Standing Woman, which played at Leeds Film Festival and was subsequently picked up by a distributor. Miles as well has super-secret scripts that he can’t tell us about and is bound by a contract until further notice. Hannah also has some things brewing, including potential new music from her band Drooligan.
Zomblogalypse will be available to watch at a later date. In the meantime, you can binge the whole of the show over at Zomblogalypse.com
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw