Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, director Jonathan Levine discuss the film
After arriving on the vast, efficiently-run set, we went through all the usual rigamarole of being an extra, but also underwent a surprisingly lengthy and very thorough zombie process. The costumes we wore were casual clothes made up of solid colors and small patterned items (no logos and no bright colors), and had been carefully torn and wrinkled to look old and worn, along with some battered old shoes that were actually pretty comfortable even by the end of the eight-hour day. Unfortunately, I didn't get to keep anything worn on set.
Here's a shot of me being turned into one of R's rotting pals:
The makeup process was akin to getting your haircut at a barber school -- a dozen or so chairs were lined up, each with a mirror and a collection of brushes, make-up and utensils in front of it. The professional make-up artists (mostly local) then used what seemed like ordinary women's make-up to turn nerdy entertainment writers into sallow-eyed, pale-skinned -- and, of course, blood-splattered -- warriors of the undead. The dirtification of our hair and clothes followed, resulting in a small gang of journalist-ghouls.
When Corddry got at look at us during his group interview, he laughed, saying, "It smells like marketing in here! Clever marketing!"
Here's a look at yours truly after the makeup was applied:
The assistant directors wrangled us into a large, graffiti-covered room, topped with a glass dome. Here, Levine directed the climactic scene in which M presents an army of zombies
to R and Julie. M and his zombies are “ready for a fight,” as M says. We journalists, along with 150 or so other extras, were instructed to stand still, until we got in battle stance to face a group of imaginary boneys descending from the dome overhead (the CG boneys would be added in post, unfortunately). Although you may not see me for more than a split-secondin the final cut (or maybe just my arm or something), it was still a treat to be part of the undead army without having to go through the whole death thing first.
As Palmer explained, "Basically, this is the last act of the movie and there’s a battle going on between zombies and this other group of zombies who are super-ferocious. They’re sort of at the later stage of being zombified. They’re called the Boneys. I’m sure you can use your imagination there. It’s this huge battle between zombies, the Boneys and then, my father, played by John Malkovich
, he heads up the military. So they’re also in on it and they’re trying to find me and R. It’s very chaotic. This is the first time that I come up and I see that there’s literally 150 zombies waiting to help us out."
During the shoot, the make-up crew were constantly zig-zagging through the crowd of zombies, searching for anyone who needed a touch-up. They worked as fast and as professionally as a NASCAR pit team.
Levine is a casually dressed and very young-looking director who has a reputation for being easy-going on set. At roughly $40 million, "Bodies" is his priciest film, but it's still a relatively low-budget enterprise. Levine previously helmed "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," "The Wackness" and 2011's cancer comedy "50/50," with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen.
"People tell me I’m pretty mellow but I’m super stressed out the whole time," Levine revealed. I like a pretty relaxed, fun set. Everyone knows they can bring whoever they want and hang out. That’s something I sort of learned from Seth and Evan [Goldberg] on ’50/50’, because it was always kind of a party there and it shows onscreen when people are having a nice time. So yeah, it’s certainly laid back.”
Levine looked at previous zombie films, but was careful to not fall into parody or theft. "’28 Days Later’ to me is my favorite. We watched both the Snyder ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ and the Romero ‘Dawn Of The Dead.' I watched all of the Romero ones. I watched ‘Return Of The Living Dead' -- that one’s cool, man. I like that one. But as far as references it’s more of a ’28 Days Later’ or even ‘I Am Legend’-type reimagining of the mythology."
“We create our own mythology," he continued. "There’s voiceover in the movie so the degree to which it will be explained is still being determined, but we definitely have our own rules. You still have to shoot them in the head, stuff like that. But we [also] have our own.”
Hoult and Corddry discuss the difficulties of being undead on the next page.