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Gary Ugarek

Gary: "I decided to be a filmmaker when I was on the set of Land of the Dead playing a zombie".

Conducted by Terry Coe
November 15th, 2009

This is a little follow up of the recent review I did on Deadlands 2: Trapped. I contacted Gary Ugarek with some questions that I came up with while watching his movie. And just some general background on the up and coming writer / director. We've been chatting some through email and I threw some questions together for him. Look for Gary's Deadlands movies, Deadlands: The Rising, Deadlands 2: Trapped.

What are you're favorite horror movies?
hmmm, Well I have to say John Carpenters Halloween, along with his remake of The Thing. The Exorcist, Lamberto Bav's Demons, Return of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead (orig).

What type of movies did you enjoy watching while growing up?
I grew up on films like Dawn of the Dead and Fulci's zombie. I had a huge fascination with the zombie genre so I used to rent anything with zombies to watch at home. The parents gave me Carte Blanche on video rentals and I would have to say a fair share of my teenage years was devoted to Zombie films. However, I also enjoyed goofy fils like 16 Candles, and Better Off Dead as well as the teen rebellion films like Breakfast Club. It was such a mix mash of things, but I can say the majority of it was rated R, and is probably responsible for the asshole I am today. =)

At what point did you decide, THIS is what I want to do?
I decided to be a filmmaker when I was on the set of Land of the Dead playing a zombie. The whole atmosphere was just engaging. I have always wanted to be a filmmaker since my teens, but itwas visits to the set of Land and the remake of Dawn of the Dead and interviewing Zack Snyder and being directed by Nicotero and Romero, while playing a zombie is what put the stars in alignment. So if you dig my work thank those guys, if you hate my work they're the one to blame. =)

So far you've been focusing on the zombie sub genre. Is that something you plan on sticking with.? Or do you have other ideas cooking to expand over more of the horror genre all together.?
I stick with zombie films because they are really the only horror monster that scares/terrifies me, but I have said I would do a vampire flick as long as I can make a brutal and unrelenting film as ooposed to the sparkly romantic vamp films we are saddled with today. Zombie films are also a lot of fun because they have such a huge fan base and when it comes to the zombie fans they are the best plus all zombies fan, myself included plot out endof the world scenarios involving zombies so here is my chance to play out some of those scenarios and show the expected outcome.

I read that you DECLINED more funding for your movie Deadlands 2. Because you wanted to keep it under the budget you had for the first movie. Could you elaborate on this a little.? I can understand it from a challenge stand point. But, to me, it seems people would want more money for their projects.
Yep I did decline and mostly it was because everytime someone reviewed Deadlands 1 they kept throwing in reference films like El Mariachi and Night of the Living Dead as a comparison to budget. Now both these films cost more to make than Deadlands 1 but some people want to use them as a standard, so when it came to Deadlands 2 I said well, since everyone wants to use the $7,000 excuse for El Mariachi I will just bring Deadlands 2 under $6,000.00, Now you can't compare it because it costs less to make. Basically It was a way for me to shut up the asshats who like to use these two films in comparison, and of course they don't apply certain items such as locations, available equipment etc etc. I mean even Romeros Night was a rough film for the money spent, and it has very amateurish qualities but people seem to forgive that film because of the story and the fact nothing like that had been done before, but again you can't compare a film made for $114K in 1968 to a film made in 2006 for $11K. Same applies to Mariachi, $7K shot in Mexico back in 91, hell inflation and the fact we are US based alone drives costs up significantly because Robert could get away with a lot of things in Mexico we can't get away with in the US on such a small budget. This is what led to the limit on the budget and the fact the film had to be larger in scale than the first. Will it shut everyone up? No, they will find something to bitch about, and thats ok, I just needed the satisfaction of removing the one little item from the available references.

Everyone that took part in the movie basically worked for free, right? Was that difficult to work with at all in when filming or trying to get someone to do the part just like want them to. Know what I mean? Because I think everyone did a great job. I'm wondering if you had to be much of a hard ass? LOL
Yes and No, I think once or twice during filming the Freebie aspect thing came up and my retort was, ok, if that is how you feel I understand, but keep in mind this reflects YOU as much as it does me, so if you wanna blow it because you're not getting paid thats your thing. However, aside from that time, filming went pretty smooth, and when you cast a movie for no pay not everyone is going to come out and work for no pay, so you get good and bad, but as far as the cast goes they were awesome and did what they could do, we all did. The film had some time constraing issues because of shooting on weekends and shooting at night, I think if we could have shot day to day and had rehearsal time think things would have come out even better than they are, but again for the money, scope and material people can't expect Shawshank Redemption stuff here. Plus I do think it is unfair to judge indie production more hrashly than some of th egrindhouse flick we grew up watching. There are many italian zombie films with far worse direction and acting, but they get a pass, and to me its a bit hypocritical, but hey whatever helps everyone sleep at night.

Basically we did the best we could do with the money, time and schedule we had to work with and I am damn proud of the film the cast and the crew.

Keeping on the budget questions.. Do you want to stay on the indie scene? Or do you want to get up into the millions and see main stream releases?
Hell I would love a few million to make the zombie film I want to make, but if indie is where I am meant to be then that is where I will stay matters not to me because I have a shitload of fun, and if one person find the flick entertaining then we did our job, end of story.

I was looking at IMDB and I noticed that Deadlands: The Rising is set for another release in 2012. Are you doing a remake / reboot?
Part remake, part all new story. I take all the elements from Deadlands 1, The Evacuations, the Shelters and other things and give it a brand new story. The bigger budget version was co-scripted along with Women's Studies scribe and director Lonnie Martin and we both feel it is the biggest and most epic zombie script we could come up with... Kind of like the Roland Emmerich verison of Zombie films without all the cheese. The big budget version has been circling the studios for about a few years now, and since Zombielands success we have seen a lot more interest in making the movie from a studio perspective. However, we are set to go ahead and make it on a smaller budget and just call it Deadlands 3 by trimming down some of the aspect of it, and setting more into the post apocalyptic world.

How about any other projects in the works?
Just Deadlands 3, but at the moment I am trying to kick back and relax and get the HD DVD release of Deadlands 2 out, after that and the holidays I will swing full gear into the next film.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Gary
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."


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