Interview: Ben Hibon (director) – Codehunters (short), Heavenly Sword (VG), Parasite (short), Animation work on Tokyo Zombie (!!!),A.D.
Haylar Garcia (writer)- Do it for Johnny, The Goal, Risk (actor in Freddy vs Ghostbusters!) and A.D.
Bernie Goldmann (producer)- George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, 300 (yeah.THAT 300), Fool’s Gold, and hey. Soul man, as well as A.D.
Tarik Heitmann (producer)- The Sensei, The Cursed, Do it for Johnny, A.D.
(Color coded for ease of reading….) Oh- and CLICK ALL IMAGES for FULL SIZE!!! (you want to see this stuff in it’s full on glory. TRUST ME.)
So this time I’ve got some REALLY interesting stuff to talk about. I was privy to see a short teaser of an animated film called ‘A.D.’ that is going to BLOW YOU AWAY. I watched the piece and got immediately enthralled by it. I contacted the guy who put it in front of my face and decided I had to dig a little deeper. This is what I learned, the people listed above were all involved and I was lucky enough to get to ask them a few questions at the ground floor of this thing! We here at Zombieinfo.com are lucky enough to not only see some of this amazing work- but learn about it before ANYONE else from the whole group! (Fuck yeah!- Scoop!) All kidding around aside, I’ve watched a LOT of really amazing stuff over the years. and (as you all know) I’ve watched some crap, but I’ve yet to see anything else quite like this.and I can’t wait to see the reaction of the general public. Renee Tab could not be a part of this, but rest assured they were a big part of this project… I present my INSANE amount of interview guests
(easily the largest group interview to date):
Ben Hibon (director)
Haylar Garcia (writer/creator)
Bernie Goldmann (producer)
Tarik Heitmann (producer)
ZK: Hi everyone, thank you so much for taking the time and welcome to Zombieinfo.com!
Ben: It’s our pleasure sharing our spin on the zombie plague with you guys!
Haylar: Absolutely! thanks for checking out the teaser and for this interview.
Bernie: Our pleasure!
Tarik: Thanks, we’re totally excited to be here and doing the interview with you!
Ben: I am the director on the project. I also designed the world/characters. The coolest part of my job was to bring Haylar’s unique take of this zombie apocalypse to life.
Haylar: I am the creator/screenwriter of AD and an aspiring director from Denver. I work with the core team to develop what we believe will be the unstoppable godfather of all zombie films!
Bernie: I am the producing AD with Tarik and Renee.
Tarik: I am one of the producers with Bernie and Renee Tab on A.D. and the greatest part of my job is to find incredible talents like Ben Hibon and Haylar Garcia and be able to have their collective visions come to fruition.
ZK: So, were all of you genre and horror fans always? What drew you to this project?
Ben: Horror movies have always had a special place in my DVD collection. I was drawn to the project straight away. It’s a fun yet horrific ride of epic scope, envisioning this in a medium (animation) that offers unlimited creative freedom is very attractive to me as a filmmaker.
Haylar: I am a fan of many genre’s but have always been a super-fan of zombie material. One day I realized that almost all zombie films, though cool, seemed to have such a modest scope. I suddenly wanted to write a screenplay that had the feel of a huge action flick coupled the macabre charm and metaphoric content of the great zombie film too. (The Independence Day of Zombie films if you will).
Bernie: I have previously produced a couple of genre movies. Most notable would probably be George Romero’s Land of the Dead and 300. 300 started as a genre movie. Having done a zombie movie previously made me a little hesitant to get involved in another one. What ultimately drew me to this project was Ben. I had seen his short CODEHUNTERS and was blown away. I called him up and told him that I wanted to work with him on whatever he thought was cool. He sent me A.D., (which was called something else at the time) and I realized what a great voice Haylar had. We all met and started spinning on some ideas and had great fun figuring out how we could do something new with the zombie genre.
Tarik: I definitely agree with both Ben and Haylar. I love all kinds of movies, especially horror and action flicks, but what drew me to this story was the magnitude of it. Most Zombie movies are very self-contained and Haylar just freakin’ took this genre and elevated it to a huge action-horror adventure.
ZK: I will get this one out of the way early. with the ‘new’ interpretations of the zombie culture out there, do you prefer fast or slow zombies.and why?
Ben: I like both ‘evolutions’ and think they can definitely co-exist in A.D. The fast zombie brings immediate threat and works perfectly for close encounters. Unpredictable and terrifying. The slow one moves in packs like an unstoppable force. A constant looming shadow over our characters. Inevitable and deadly. Perfect.
Haylar: I prefer both. Zombies should move at the speed at which their current decomposition allows. I think similarly so with brain function. You never know what to expect.
Bernie: Romero will tell you that zombies have to move slow because they are lumbering dead creatures. He is right about that. And that makes sense for the mythology of George’s movies. But if you can motivate it and make it work, the fast ones sure are scary.
Tarik: Definitely both. The unpredictability of who you’re dealing with makes it way more frightening.
ZK: I see a lot of ‘genre’ entries in your histories, ranging from Freddy vs. Ghostbusters, right up to George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead and 300. It’s a really diverse mix. Was your pursuit of these projects intentional or did it just work out that way?
Ben: Our backgrounds are all very different, therefore we all come together on this project from various angles. I think we benefit from the diversity of our histories to help create our own original take on the genre.
Haylar: Freddy Vs. Ghostbusters… Had to bring that up huh? LOL. I Let a friend of mine use my place as a location, but as I am an indie at heart, I got roped into shooting second cam and being an extra too I think. LONG LIVE INDIE FILM!
Bernie: I am from Pittsburgh and growing up, the only person from Pittsburgh who had made a movie that I knew about was George. So it was personally an amazing experience for me to work with George on a zombie movie. George is a very talented guy and also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Very much a Pittsburgher in that way.
I was also lucky enough to be tangentially involved in the Matrix movies as President of Production at Village Roadshow Pictures. When I was given 300, my immediate thought was that it was the next Matrix. It is such a rare experience to be sitting on your couch on a Sunday afternoon, slugging through a pile of reading and think, holy shit this is going to change the way people think about movies. Then five years later the movie gets made.
I also feel that way about AD and Ben. AD is going to change the way people perceive animation. The way Ben directs animation is special. He has a very cinematic style that continues to impress me. I just hope I don’t have to wait 5 years to see this movie.
Tarik: Funny enough, we all grew up in different parts of the world and we all gravitated to this project. The pursuit was definitely intentional, especially after I had heard Haylar’s and then Ben’s take on this. I was a huge fan of 300 and The Matrix, two movies that totally redefined their respective genres. Bernie, who was involved with both projects just seemed like a natural partner and he totally got it!!
ZK: So looking at ‘A.D.’ the art direction and the overall style (which, by the way is fucking FANTASTIC) really stands out- what is the overall goal of this piece.is it to make a full length feature, web series, TV show, what? (I want MORE DAMMIT!) Also- when are you releasing this to the public?
Ben: We set out to create a visual universe that distinguished itself from the classic zombie formula. Translating Haylar’s script into animation was the first step to making this project unique. Animation very rarely ventures into mature and dark territories. It’s very important to define a strong and bold look for this movie, create our own visual benchmark. A.D. has definitely its very own identity that serves the purpose of the movie; it’s stylised and graphical, but very gritty and textured just like the reality and the world the story is set in.
Haylar: Feature Film all the way baby! Ben Hibon is like a blessing from heaven, (maybe hell in this case). His overall vision is what sets this thing apart from anything ever seen. His input was vital in shaping the world, the feeling, and even the characters on our most current rewrite. His intrinsic talent for narrative in the visual sense is literally the electricity that powers the script’s execution…. Did I just say execution?
Bernie: Whenever you want to do anything that challenges the way people think about movies things move slowly. Movie executives want to make 100 versions of the same movie. Which from their perspective makes sense. You don’t get fired for making the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy. I completely believe that AD will be a hit movie. The zombie genre could use some reinvention. This movie will be like no other.
Tarik: Oh, yeah – Feature all the way. The animation genre hasn’t been really pushed that far. I agree wholeheartedly with Bernie, that film execs always want to be safe. Look at DISTRICT 9, which was incredible, but virtually every studio exec had passed on, and it took a visionary producer and team to ultimately get it done independently.
ZK: I can’t wait to see some kind of character progression and story development on how this all happened and where it could go- it’s extremely intriguing. I think you have hit on that perfect mix of visual style and tone that will really resonate with a viewer, and not just us nutso zombie/horror fans. SO (enough sucking up!), what is next on all of your plates? (Plug your stuff here! Anything you like)
Ben: Zombies have seen a ressurgance in video games lately, and there’s a large crowd out there that are hungry for more. Mixing high concept adventure, zombie apocalypse and animation is making A.D. a hell of a ride. Currently I’m just finishing directing a promo for a metal band and an animation for a live-action movie coming out later this year, but this one has got the ‘bloody cool’ factor for me!
Haylar: Thanks, it has always been our goal to create a film that is adventurous and fun enough to appeal to a wide audience while also being truly entertaining to the beloved nutso zombie fans. Currently as a screenwriter, I am working on a number of crazy things, the biggest of which includes the long awaited screen adaptation of Erik Larsen’s “Savage Dragon” comic book.
Bernie: Thanks. Haylar has done a great job with this script. He has rewritten it twice and blown me away with the cool set pieces he has invented. Ben’s designs for this movies are amazing! We look forward to showing you more soon.
Tarik: Thanks, man. What’s next – about to have a feature that Bruce Lee’s Goddaughter Diana Lee Inosanto directed, released – The Sensei, and developing a really cool horror feature with Finnish director Pete Riski, who’s known for Heavy Metal band Lordi’s music videos.
ZK: Listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to visit with us, we’re hoping to see a lot more from you all!
Ben: More ‘gruesome’ updates very soon. Stay tuned!
Haylar: Thank you so much for everything, and remember… always aim for the head.
Tarik: This was awesome! Thanks for having us. We will definitely feed you the scoop!
So, there we have it. Looking at the screen captures make me wet. (With sweat and anticipation, you sickos!) You only get to see something like this once in a while, and I can tell you I’m glad to have been that guy to see it. Stay tuned to Zombieinfo.com for new stuff like this and more!
I’m the Zombieking. and this topic is now DEAD to me.
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