What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
Zombies are everywhere! An image popped into my mind of a normal girl and a zombie brother sitting at a breakfast table with very different meals. It was a funny, bloody image, but as I thought more about a world in which the undead coexisted with the living, I started to see that this was fertile territory to explore growing up with a sibling who is different from other kids in any way.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
As the oldest of four siblings, I feel a strong connection to my lead character, Abigail, who faces responsibilities and challenges that I dealt with in my own way growing up. Like her, I also made mistakes as a child without realizing the consequences of my actions, and through those mistakes I learned about the importance of caring for others.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
The relationship between the siblings took a pleasant turn going into production. We were fortunate to cast incredibly sweet kids who imbued a closeness that I hadn’t necessarily anticipated. It would have been easy for Abigail to be played as completely disdainful of her brother, and Norman completely oblivious to his sister’s wishes, but our young actors brought wonderful subtleties to their roles that truly make the movie.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
My cinematographer and I largely took cues from Let the Right One In. We loved that film’s soft lighting and wrapping shadows that nodded to the horror genre while conveying a certain level of intimacy. Our film ended up striking a balance between that aesthetic and the more saturated palette of children’s comedy, much in the way our story strikes that balance.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
When I wrote My Brother Is A Zombie, I envisioned the film taking place in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland. I never thought we would actually film there because our crew and I were mostly based in New York, but I decided it was worth bringing our whole team down the coast to capture the area where I was raised. We lost a ton of time due to transportation, yet we gained a unique, nostalgic backdrop that became invaluable to our story.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
One significant risk we faced was shooting a 17-scene script in two days with child actors. With so many locations to bounce between, we had to be extra efficient, and every take had to count. We managed to use our lack of time, however, to keep our scenes fresh and our kids engaged, and to inspire an all hands on deck mentality that bolstered a sense of community and teamwork among our crew.
What risks does your story take?
My Brother Is A Zombie deals with the sensitive issue of growing up with a sibling with special needs. Because it does so through genre filmmaking, it runs the risk of being taken too literally or having an audience miss the point altogether. Behind a façade of blood and guts, I believe our themes of responsibility, acceptance, and familial love shine through.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
To me the most important part of storytelling through film is exploration. No other medium forces so much collaboration and process-oriented creation. I think it’s important to enjoy and take advantage of the way your story can change and improve through this journey, while also staying true to your intentions.