Lewiston-Auburn campus used as set for upcoming independent zombie film

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Arts & Culture, Features
By Sam Hill

LAC was invaded by a horde of zombies last Sunday as Freight Train Films filmed scenes for the upcoming movie How to Kill a Zombie. Hundreds of zombie enthusiasts, regional actors and students showed up to volunteer as zombie extras.

“This is just a fantastic experience for everyone here,” said award-winning actor, director and president of Freight Train Films, Bill McLean. “Sure, we’re making a film, but everyone is having such a great time as well.”

For the film Bill McLean teamed up with his son Ben, who wrote most of the script.

“It’s a father and son story,” said Ben McLean. “The father doesn’t know how to connect and raise his son. He only knows how to raise a soldier. It just happens to take place during a zombie outbreak, so they have to learn to bond through survival.”

McLean and his son play the father and son in the film, adding a feeling of realism to the relationship between the protagonists.

“Who better to play a father and son than father and son?” said Ben McLean.

McLean, a 20-year veteran in the industry, helped his son polish up the script for production. McLean’s wife and younger son also helped work on the script, providing joke s and one-liners here and there during the writing process
“It’s been a family project all the way through,” said Bill McLean.

Over 150 volunteers responded to the open casting call that was sent out by McLean. Actors from all over the state traveled to Lewiston to be a part of the film. Some volunteers had been with the project from the beginning, showing up at other shoots across the area that have been taking place since September, while others were brand new.
As early as 8 a.m. Mclean was starting zombie boot camp, helping the actors discover their inner-undead. Actors were trained to walk like real zombies, staggering and limping, but never taking their eyes from their victims as they approach. They had to learn to stop looking for human brains to devour as individuals and start to move together. There’s no “I” in undead horde.

“It’s been so much fun. I love this,” said freshman English and Spanish Education major, Jasmine Harper. “I recieved the email for auditions and saw they were right here on campus, so I thought ‘why not?’ And I was thrown right into it. It’s wonderful.”

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Ben McLean. “All these people are volunteers, here on their own time. It’s so much more fun and real this way.”

Upon arrival, actors were sent to a collection of make-up artists and covered in blood, wounds and scars. A lot of the actors had fun making up stories about how their characters became zombies and where exactly their wounds came from.
“Everyone here is so creative. Even when we’re not working it’s just fun to meet new people,” said Harper.

When asked where the inspiration for the script came from, Ben said it came from a line delivered in one of the more recent Batman films: “You become what you fear.”

“I’m totally scared of being a zombie, so this was a way for me to face my fears,” said Ben McLean.

“The experience is so humbling. All these people taking the time out of their lives to help us make this film. It’s amazing,” said Bill McLean.

The crew will continuing filming throughout November and into the second weekend in December. Applications to participate as an extra are no longer being taken, but posts regarding filming locations can be found on the official Freight Train Films website.

McLean estimates that the film will premiere in late summer 2013. Showings have already been booked at Flagship Cinemas and McLean is looking into venues in Portland to showcase the final product, including Nickelodeon Cinemas.