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Monday, January 23, 2012

ZOMBIES/FIGHTS/BLOOD - INTERVIEW: Joseph Scott Anthony talks "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" with ZBF

by Bowie Ibarra

Photo Credits:  Dan Irving - IrvingImage.com

One of the stars of the zombie horror movie, 'Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption', sat down with ZombieBloodFights.com to talk about the movie, the people he worked with, and the fun he had on set.  ZombieBloodFights.com is pleased to bring you Mr. Joseph Scott Anthony.



ZombieBloodFights.com - It’s great to have you here on the blog, Mr. Anthony.  Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Joseph Scott Anthony - Thanks Bowie love the opportunity, much appreciated.

ZBF - I’m most curious first of all about your acting work.  When did you get bit by the acting bug?  Was it something you’ve done since your youth?  Or is it something more recent?

Young.  I was a paid magician at 12, part of a mime troupe at 15, then from that point on theatre was all I did.  Until I unwisely took a turn into the real world.  Went into business to become a millionaire, then go back to acting.  Bad plan, didn’t become a millionaire and took 27 years to get back to acting.  The Great Recession killed my business, but at the same time the film industry came to Michigan.  I’ve done over 40 films since 2008.  Lose everything and you’re forced to re-access who you are, what life means to you.  I came back to what I love and was meant to do.  I’ve always been the kid who organized the backyard carnival, the haunted house in the garage, the magic show, the plays, etc.  Performing, putting together projects, it’s in you, you can’t escape it, can’t live without it.  I tried.  It almost killed me.  I’m an actor & a producer at heart.

ZBF - I thought your performance in the movie was one of the strongest.  Where did you get your acting training?

Bringing the madness of the ZPoc!
JSA - HA! Well I haven’t had a lot.  On stage my strongest lessons came from a great group of directors in high school.  Linda Dieritich, Kay Snuffer,  Marty Jennings, Robin Rausch.  For film I lucked out.  The fourth film I ever did was with Z. Eric Yang.  Eric has won a Student Academy Award (yeah, THAT Oscar), and a Sundance Institute Annenberg Grant (yeah, THAT Sundance), for his projects.  The level of meticulousness, nuance and subtly Eric wanted was amazing.  He’s been in my head ever since.  More recently I’m training with Ralph Lister, a lifelong British SAG actor with decades of experience.

ZBF - Have you done any stage work?  If so, what were some of your favorite shows to be in?

Having a smoke with Knox, played by Johnny Gel
JSA - Love the stage, easily my first love, first passion.  I’ve done drama to comedy, farce to Shakespeare.  Played Max Smart in “Get Smart”, a blast!  Colonel Brandon in Jane Austin’s “Sense & Sensibility”, the part Alan Rickman played recently.  The stage is what hooked me.  I still remember the moment I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.  I was 17 Years old, “Ordinary People” a drama, several hundred people in the audience, one of those moments you viscerally, electrically connect with the audience.  No one breathes, moves, the audience cried.  There is no feeling like that in the world.

ZBF - How did you get on the lineup for ‘Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption’

JSA - Auditioned for Ryan Thompson and Johnny Gel (the lead, Knox).  I’d met Ryan the year before at a Halloween party thrown by another filmmaker I’d worked with, Rick Reed.  Rick and Paul Bozen of Collective Studios was my first paid film project, “Dolmen”.  Had a great time with Ryan, Rick & Paul that night.  The next summer I heard about Ryan’s new zombie project and auditioned.

ZBF - Tell us a little about your character, Robert.

JSA - Robert is your typical second banana.  Hot headed, but good guy.  Protective, follower, do or die type of guy.  His backstory, the family man who watched his wife and children die one by one during the apocalypse.  Visibly hanging on a string around Robert’s neck is his wedding ring and other jewelry, all that’s left of his family & former life.  This sets up, possibly, the most horrific moment of the film.  

(spoiler alert)  

Knox our hard edge military mercenary and Robert the family man, weapons at the ready, stalk through a dark abandoned warehouse and hear an entirely out of place wrong sound.  An infant crying.  To their horror they find the dead pregnant mother, and the zombie who killed her, with the exhumed baby … eating it alive.  Knox shoots the zombie.  Robert our family man, to Knox’s shock, shoots the infected child.

Pre-Fight floor
ZBF - That scene was very difficult to watch, and a great moment in the flick.  That's the kind of true horror inherent in the zombie apocalypse. 
What was it like working with such a great and diverse cast?

JSA - Wow.  Awesome.  Fred “The Hammer” Williamson?  Come on!  There’s a scene, I say to The Hammer “You can’t be serious!” and he’s supposed to just silently glower at me.  The Hammer?  I say my line, and out of NOWHERE he gets in my face and says “Do I LOOK Fucking Serious?”  Yowza.  Could have knocked me over with a feather.  Didn’t have to do much acting for my reaction.  

Alicia Clark, the best actress I’ve worked with so far, she and I have done over a dozen films together.  Except, in most of those, I got the girl! (laughing).  

Johnny Gel and I had a blast, just some fun, fun scenes together.  Tommy Bearmore a true talent and joy to work with had us laughing on set.  He and Johnny came up with this improv stuff that just killed.  

So, so many others, Didrik, Victor, Jerry, Brad, Dan, Angelique, our stunt guys Li, Vong, all great!  I’m going to get killed for not naming everyone (laughing), it was just a great cast.  We had over 200 people that came together for a month to put their heart and soul into producing this film.  An amazing experience.  Few films of this size with this budget have the luxury of that many dedicated people and that much talent.

ZBF - The script was pretty intense.  What was it like to work in that imaginary circumstance of the zombie apocalypse?

JSA - A total BLAST!  I love this type of over the top, out there, extreme stuff.  I’m a passionate, explosive performer.  Let me at it!  The “Big Fight In The Kitchen”, wow most fun I’ve ever had on a film set!  Tommy and I both have stage fighting experience, and we had Vong, Li, and Rich Raphael, with tons of choreographed fight experience.  With this scene, we choreographed the first few moves to get to the point of me throwing Tommy on the table, but then it was free for all, up to Tommy and I to go for it.  WOW.  Three takes and we destroyed the place.  Look at the tile on the floor of this abandoned building in these before and after photos.  We did that with our bodies.  One of the first takes, I throw Tommy on the table, leap on him, pound him, he kicks me off, I come up AND TOMMY’S COMING AT ME FULL SWING WITH A TABLE LEG! Totally unplanned!  I Loved It!  We beat the HELL out of each other!  As actor’s we talk about being fully committed to a scene or character.  Tommy and I are that to the point of injury.  On the other end of the spectrum, coming into the decimated, burning survivor camp, everyone dead or captured, the loss of hope, my character screaming and crying.  Or (spoiler alert) when the zombies finally get me (they always get the second banana, you don’t get the girl, but you get a good death scene!), the range of emotions you’re allowed to experience and perform.  This is the juice of acting, the fun stuff you relish and do it for.

ZBF - Did you have a lot of rehearsal time with other cast members?

Post-Fight Floor
JSA - No.  Not at all with a project like this.  We had one full read through prior to shooting that rocked, then it’s all about coming to set prepared.  Cast members came from Chicago, Ohio, and across Michigan.  These guys & gals were professional, knew their lines, we’d block it, shoot it, and move on.

ZBF - I imagine the director had blocking needs for the camera.  But were you allowed to make a lot of choices yourself, or did the director take a hands on approach to your motivations and blocking?

JSA - It was a very collaborative set.  Ryan definitely knew what he wanted from his action scenes, sequences, and blocking.  There was also much to figure out on the spot once we were in the physical circumstance, and as on any good film set, a lot problem solving.  The arc of the film, the ‘80’s sort of style, Ryan knew exactly what he was after.  As to motivations, this was a very experienced crew of actors that knew what to bring.

ZBF - Zombies are big these days.  What is your take on why zombies have become so popular lately?


JSA - Great question!  I had a great conversation with a commercial banker who has turned filmmaker, Chris Reibold.  He wrote and financed my first paid role in “Dolmen”.  As a banker Chris deals with foreclosures of business property, and is a very well read guy.  He had the best answer I’ve heard.  It’s the economy, the lack of opportunity, the feeling of being out of control, the deep desire to have the opportunity to prove yourself, and in this economy few getting any true opportunity to do that.  Unchallenging jobs beneath people’s education or abilities, if they have a job at all.  People of privilege getting opportunity they may not deserve or have proven themselves worthy of.  A zombie apocalypse?  ALL that is gone, stripped away.  Right now, right THIS moment, anyone left is equal, you have the opportunity to show your worth, demonstrate you can succeed, be the hero, survive.  All while taking out a lot of frustration blowing the heads off people who clearly deserve it, your boss … uh, I mean zombies.

ZBF - Pick one:  Zombies, Blood, or Fights?

JSA - Fights.  It’s all boring without conflict and a good fight.  You gotta believe the invincibility of the hero, and then believe he IS GOING TO LOSE.  My favorite is Clint Eastwood “Fistful of Dollars”.  I buy in every time.  He can’t lose!  OMG he’s screwed!  How’d he pull that out!?!  NOW add Blood!  ADD Zombies or the monster of your choice!  And you’ve GOT SOMETHING!  Without The Fight you’ve got special effects & blood without heart.

ZBF - The movie you were in becomes a reality.  What would be your first plan of action?

JSA - Wish I’d been a gun collector!  Seriously, supplies, gather people and organize.  Human beings are screwed when they are disorganized, scattered and on their own.  That’s the point of these apocalyptic films, all the structure is gone, on your own death is only a matter of time.  It’s all about starting over from scratch.  Social groups are all about fighting off the wild beasts more efficiently, living longer, and enjoying the comradery along the way.  So it’s more “Mad Max”, are you going to join the good guys or bad guys?  … that is, if you get past first few days.  Hmm … I’m going to step out and visit a gun store now.

I’d like to add, we were on set filming for 22 of 26 LONG days straight.  It was awesome, possibly my best learning experience so far.  Trials, tribulations, but an absolutely amazing group of dedicated people who gave it their all, some had a great deal of experience, some had none.  I’ll never forget Steve Norton with a boom mic in hands, the first time ever for him.  I’ve never seen someone so geeked, so focused, so happy, so committed.  It was beautiful.  And there were just so many stories like this.  That is the beauty of low budget zombie films.  A place to get your start, cut your teeth, and zombie audiences completely appreciate the heart put into films at this level.  The bubblegum ride of blowing away some zombies and bad guys all in good fun on a ridiculously LOW budget.  Just so cool to be a part of!

ZBF - Thanks for participating.  Best wishes for continued success.

JSA - Thanks Bowie!  Really enjoyed the questions!  Much success to you too!  My guess in your line of work, you already have visited your local gun shop and have a stock pile of weapons, or I’d ask you to come along, since that’s where I need to head now.  

My website is JosephScottAnthony.com if anyone wants to check out my other stuff, or keep up with the future adventures!  Thanks again!

ZBF - Thank you, Mr. Anthony.

Check out the review for the movie here!

Retro cover of Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption
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Bowie Ibarra is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuester.  New York Times best selling author Jonathan Mayberry commented on Ibarra's latest entry, 'The Fall of Austin', by saying, "Ibarra kicks things off right away and doesn't take his foot off the accelerator until the last gasp.'  You can pick up 'The Fall of Austin' here.

You can network with Bowie and discover all his writings at his personal website, ZombieBloodFights.com. 

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