James Gill explores the development process of Adam A. Losurdo’s innovative zombie film
Hope was among the most original shorts in this years festival and one of the best Zombie films I have watched in a long time. Directer Adam A. Losurdo took some time from his busy schedule to talk about his film and his plans for the future. Click here to read my review of Hope before progressing to the interview.
The premise to Hope, that the zombies don’t kill/eat human and instead just wander aimlessly, is refreshingly new and opposite to most films in the genre. The idea was different to begin with though as Adam told me: “The co-writer Chris Stival had a general idea of the zombie’s loss of hunger. Then, after finding love with another zombie would gain his blood thirst along with the girl starting up the zombie apocalypse once again.”
As the development progressed, the concept evolved as he continues, “we ended up changing the original idea and twisting it into the zombies never becoming hostile in the first place, but rather would just roam the world like stray dogs looking for something other than food. Well until…”
The current state of the zombie genre is something he feels need to change, “over the years zombie movies have been put on repeat with no real creativity or originality. I strive to bring fresh concepts and incorporate them with elements of the films that we all love.” His short is an attempt at breaking the cycle and inspiring others to do the same.
On the topic of inspirations, Adam talked about several directors that influenced his work. “Quentin Tarantino is one for his raw stylised approach. He is a writing genius, and he also takes a lot of elements from older films and makes them into his own, which we all know works very well”. Another is David Fincher for “his versatility in filmmaking and his stylised gritty films like Fight Club and Seven”. Finally, and especially relevant for Hope was John Carpenter “for his old-school style of horror and cheese factor. The 80’s horror films with all the practical scares and effects are the best.
Whilst making the film, Adam tried to include many pop culture and film references. “As far as direct inspiration, I was really inspired to take memorable shots from past movies and make them work within our story and style.” One of those references in particular was from Titanic when Hope and Karl are in love, holding hands and spinning in the field. Another, more prominent reference was from Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, towards the end of the film when Karl and the two young girls have “what we called on set, “The Mexican Standoff””. Fortunately aside from a few minor scenes and shots here and there, no pop-culture references ended up being cut.
The main antagonists of the film, the aforementioned two young girls, was a curious choice by the writers. He explains that he “wanted to emphasise the zombie’s being innocent creatures with no knowledge of their surroundings. Young girls at that age are usually considered sweet and innocent but in Hope, we flipped the roles”. This change in expectation alongside the core concept of the zombies keep the viewers on their toes with constant surprises as the short progresses.
In a look to the future we discussed future projects and aspirations. “My goal is to continue writing, directing and producing my projects. I have some concepts I’m playing with at the moment and have some more shorts up my sleeve. I’m also developing two full-length feature screenplays for future productions.” Continuing to develop his own style is something that is very important to him and he wants to share his visions with the world.
In a step towards the hypothetical, I asked what film he would make if given unlimited scope. “I would have to say a horror/thriller. I love classic horror slasher films and psychological thrillers so I’d want to combine the two creating an iconic film that will stand as a memorable piece of cinema.”
We ended the interview with his top five films. “That’s a hard question to answer. So many favourites. So many! I would have to say Halloween (1978) because it has been one of my favourites for so long, The Ninth Gate, Moon, Seven , and to mix it up Nacho Libre. The list goes on and on with films like Empire Strikes Back, The Abyss, Contact, Alien, Event Horizon, Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill, Django, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tropic Thunder and The Secret Window.”