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An Interview with Michael Haberfelner, Writer and Producer of There's No Such Thing as Zombies

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2021

Michael Haberfelner on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie There's No Such Thing as Zombies - in a few words, what is it about?

 

It's Love in the Time of the Zombie Outbreak: While in the wider world, real and imagined experts argue about how to deal with zombies or whether to acknowledge their existence even, a woman (Eirian Cohen [Eirian Cohen interview - click here]) and two men (Rudy Barrow [Rudy Barrow interview - click here] and Rami Hilmi [Rami Hilmi interview - click here]) find themselves in a love triangle - and one of them's a zombie ...

 

Now how did the project fall together to begin with?

 

Well, originally I was only commissioned to write the movie, not to produce it at all, but when the original producer bailed, I figured this script is just too good to not have it made (and yes, I am that conceited), looked and found a great partner-in-crime in my leading lady Eirian Cohen, and between the two of us we got things rolling. It was she who actually brought our director Eddie Bammeke [Eddie Bammeke interview - click here] on board, who became a great partner-in-crime as well.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies uses large junks out of an earlier short of yours, Talk of the Dead - so what can you tell us about that movie of yours, and was There's No Such Thing as Zombies actually a mere afterthought?

 

Haha, actually Talk of the Dead was the afterthought, none of that movie was in the original script. Actually the idea for Talk of the Dead only came about at the time I was deciding to produce the movie myself, and out of nowhere got a message from Lynn Lowry asking me if she could join the project. Now even notwithstanding that I've been a longtime fan of Lynn's, what better could happen to a zombie movie than to have the leading lady of George A. Romero's The Crazies in it? So I wrote the segment in which she stars in into There's No Such Thing as Zombies as the movie's backbone - Greek choir if you will -, it's basically a news show discussing whether zombies are real. Now back when, I didn't have the budget together to shoot the full feature, but enough for these newsroom scenes, so I decided to make a short out of the newsroom scenes with its own story arc, and even a few fake commercials, in the hope of attracting investors. And somehow the short developed a life of its own, with a successful festival run and quite a few awards - so the gamble did pay off, fortunately.

 

Rudy Barrow, Rami Hilmi, Eirian Cohen

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing There's No Such Thing as Zombies?

 

Well, I wrote the screenplay almost immediately after my first script, A Killer Conversation, got filmed back in 2012 (and also brought that movie's leads Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi along for There's No Such Thing as Zombies), so the experience of that earlier shoot was certainly an inspiration, inasmuch as it taught me a lot about writing for a modest buget. Other than that, I'm a big fan of zombie cinema in general, from George A. Romero's early masterpieces to underbudgeted and ill-written Italian knock-offs from the 1980s, so safe to say I knew a thing or two about genre tropes. But that said, I didn't want to make your typical zombie movie, so I ignored most of these tropes and instead asked the question, what if someone didn't believe in zombies? I mean, in the real world, would you believe in zombies? And that question already developed its own dynamic that informed the plot.

 

Do talk about There's No Such Thing as Zombies' approach to horror and the zombie genre!

 

As hinted at above, I didn't want this to be your typical zombie movie but something that speaks to a wider audience. Sure, the movie still has its violence, but even to these scenes there's a comedic spin. Other than that I wanted to concentrate on other aspects of zombiedom, even subverting some genre mainstays, like making my zombie hunters the least effective characters of the film. And I also wanted to go back to the roots of modern zombie films (as in: Romero's early movies) and use the premise as source for satire and social commentary.

 

Alexander Fernando, Lynn Lowry, Rachel Brownstein, Martina McClements,

Paul Sutton

A few words about There's No Such Thing as Zombies' brand of humour?

 

I guess it's a little bit of everything, there's above-mentioned satire, there's (genre-)irony aplenty, there's comicbook violence, there's situation comedy, poignant dialogue, even bits of slapstick. People have referred to the humour in There's No Such Thing as Zombies as "very British", which I, a born-and-bred Austrian, take as a huge compliment of course..

 

What can you tell us about There's No Such Thing as Zombies' director Eddie Bammeke [Eddie Bammeke interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?

 

Well, in a recent interview, Eddie described me as "not a complete dick", and I can only return the compliment. More seriously, I loved working with Eddie and will do so again in the future. I think we complement one another greatly because we have totally different temperaments but the same good work ethic, and we never lose sight of our goal. Plus, neither of us is interested in stepping on the other's toes, which sure helps with keeping things on track. Plus, on There's No Such Thing as Zombies he's gone above and beyond his mere duty as a director, and really continues to.

Quite aside from this, he's a total madman of course, and has over the years become one of my best friends for that. That said, interestingly enough he was only a last minute replacement for the original director back when we shot Talk of the Dead, but I couldn't be happier how things turned out.

 

What were the challenges of bringing There's No Such Thing as Zombies to the screen from a producer's point of view?

 

Debra Lamb, Scott Hillier

You mean apart from scenes being washed out by torrential rain (that's what you get for filming in the UK) and locations falling through? Nothing major I guess, but I have to admit I relied heavily on Eirian Cohen and Eddie Bammeke on the production side of things, simply because they were local for the shoots and I had to fly in all the way over from Austria - so hats off to them for all their hard work.

 

What can you tell us about There's No Such Thing as Zombies's cast, and as writer and producer, how much say did you have in the casting?

 

Casting was really a threeway split between me, Eirian Cohen [Eirian Cohen interview - click here] and Eddie Bammeke. As mentioned, I brought in Rudy Barrow [Rudy Barrow interview - click here] and Rami Hilmi [Rami Hilmi interview - click here], and Eirian in fact, plus our American guest stars Lynn Lowry and Debra Lamb [Debra Lamb interview - click here], the others were not my doing, but I was totally happy with my entire cast:

Eirian, Rudy and Rami were great in the leads, absolutely hilarious, and they had such great chemistry.

Lynn I've long been a fan of, and she delivered a spot-on performance. I've worked with her a few times since, the last being 2019's Ready for My Close Up and have become good friends with her. And it's indeed more likely than not that I'll work with her again in the near future.

Likewise, Debra I've long been a fan of, and after I did an interview with her back in 2012 [click here], we became good (online-)friends, so it was only natural that for the first role that would be a fit I had for her I'd fly her over - and boy, did she not disappoint, she's hilarious in our movie. And she's another person I'll defintiely work with again in the future!

Scott Hillier as Debra's on-screen partner-in-crime is pretty much as funny, they very quickly developed this fittingly odd on-screen chemistry that makes their scenes special.

Alexander Fernando [Alexander Fernando interview - click here] and Rachel Brownstein [Rachel Brownstein interview - click here] play the straight persons in the newsroom scenes, and they, too, have great on-screen chemistry as two news anchors - who really hate one another's guts.

Paul Sutton's [Paul Sutton interview - click here] just hilarious as this larger-than-life, not too bright and self-righteous zombie hunter, and also hats off to his zombie Martina McClements for wearing her horrific makeup for hours on end and still come across as genuinely creepy throughout in probably one of the silliest zombie skits.

Also kudos to all the other actors we had in small skits who are just too many to name without leaving somebody out by accident ;)

 

Michael with Rami Hilmi

You also appear in front of the camera in There's No Such Thing as Zombies ...

 

Now that was more of a vanity thing. You see, I love to be in front of a camera, but I'm well aware of my limitations as an actor (which includes lack of education and experience), so I kept my performance small enough so I wouldn't halt the production for too long should I fuck up.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

The atmosphere was pretty wonderful, but that's what you get when you surround yourself with wonderful people I guess. Now we shot large chunks of There's No Such Thing as Zombies in Eddie Bammeke's flat, and some of us even slept on set, and that certainly helped when it comes to bonding. Plus everybody had a really good work ethic and wanted to make the movie the best it can be, and that also works wonders for the atmosphere. And lastly, I can't but praise the catering by Layla Randle-Conde [Layla Randle-Conde interview - click here], as you can't make a good movie on an empty stomach, and boy did she fill ours with delicacies!!!

 

The $64-question of course, where There's No Such Thing as Zombies be seen?

 

Come week (October 28th to November 3rd), There's No Such Thing as Zombies will be playing at the IndieScream (online) Film Festival, so by all means, if you've got some time (and money) to spare and want to have a good time, catch it at https://indiescream.in.live/. As for a more general release, our hope is early next year, but once it's being released, I'll be sure to plaster the internet with the info!!!

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

For one, we really hope to shoot a sequel to There's No Such Thing as Zombies, as there are plenty of ideas unexplored in that universe that would make the sequel anything but a re-hash. Also, I'm working with Eddie on a wild live action/animation hybrid, Confusion and the Survivor, plus we have a few ideas for TV series that will hopefully be greenlit before too long. And that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

 

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Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies:

https://theresnosuchthingaszombies.com/

https://www.facebook.com/theresnosuchthingaszombies

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7296378/.

And again the festival site: https://indiescream.in.live/

 

Me:

https://www.facebook.com/Michael-Haberfelner-Writer-691705051267542

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4905288/

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Why thank you for taking the time to talk to me :)

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD