We recently spoke with Amir Moallemi, executive producer of 'The Dead' and 'The Dead 2: India' about his work in the zombie genre with directors Howard and Jon Ford.
Q: There are a lot of zombie films out there. What did you try to do to distinguish 'The Dead' and 'The Dead 2' from the others?
A: That is a very good question, The Dead was my first foray into the film industry, I had little knowledge of how things worked but like everything I do, my approach was to learn and be open minded. That way you can learn from your mistakes and try to improve next time around. I was lucky to work closely with Howard and Jon who were succesful commercial directors/director of photography but alongside that experience of how to make a film they had made a couple of lower budget movies in their earlier years. When Howard initially discussed the idea of making a zombie film with the added value of it being set in Africa I was very enthusiastic just to make a film. However, it was clear that Howard and Jon wanted to make a film which was actually a journey movie and to really tell a story. Unlike most zombie movies where they are often set in suburban surroundings, with The Dead and The Dead 2 we wanted to take people on a journey in some unfamiliar but very beautiful locations with a sense of realism once you get over the idea of the dead returning to life and attacking the living. I think we have achieved that to an extent with many people who are not normally fans of the genre telling us that they really enjoyed the films. Hopefully we have brought the genre to a wider audience.
Q: The developing nation settings for both films are effective (Lucio Fulci's 'Zombie' came to mind in my case). Why did you choose them?
A: The ideas for the locations arose from a number of reasons. With ‘The Dead’, Howard and Jon had shot several commercials there and had seen that natural beauty that the continent offered. The idea of the Dead emanated from their younger years when they had the original idea. The combination of having the idea harbored inside their creative minds, the contacts they had in Africa coupled with us discussing the idea that it would be a beautiful film made us arrive at the decision to shoot it there.
With ‘The Dead 2’ we wanted to make a sequel in a similar vein to work alongside the timeline of the original film. Again, the raw beauty of India, the architecture and the natural locality to the storyline made India a perfect location.
Q: What, in your opinion is the appeal of the zombie genre?
A: That is a really tough question. One thing I have come to learn over the years is the attraction to the genre is very varied amongst people. If you look at the popularity of ‘The Walking Dead’ which was also released through Anchor Bay around the same time as ‘The Dead’ you see that a wider audience can now relate to a genre which perhaps traditionally only appealed to a certain following. In terms of what my opinion is as to why there is appeal for the genre, I would say that people just like the thrill of the apocalyptic element that often the genre provides. It is far reaching, widespread and not often an isolated occurrence in films. I think this intrigues audiences with the idea of what if this actually happens?
Q: Will there be a 'The Dead 3'?
A: This is probably one of the most common thing that fans of the films have asked me. Howard, Jon and I did discuss this after ‘The Dead 2’. I think for Howard he wants to explore other genres for the moment. His latest film is the stylish thriller ‘Never Let Go’ which is shortly due to be released by a major US studio in the next month or so. The film has been receiving numerous awards around the world including best independent thriller at last year’s National Film Awards. He is just about to enter pre-production on his next film. Likewise, Jon has made a gripping film called ‘Offensive’ which is also receiving some great accolades around the world. So for the moment I think we are all exploring other areas but that is not to say that we would not do a Dead 3 but it is not in the pipeline at this present time.
Q: What are some of your other projects?
A: For me I have had a really good experience working with Howard and Jon. We work well as a team and get on as friends which is also an important thing. As film makers they have the vision and ability to deliver great looking films at low budget and I am still not sure how a Hollywood studio has not snapped them up yet but I think it will only be a matter of time before that happens.
Since ‘The Dead 2’ I have been executive producing a film called ‘The Holly Kane Experiment’ which has just been released in the US. Prior to this I worked with Howard on ‘Never Let Go’ which stars the very talented Angela Dixon. Presently I am producing a psychological thriller with my wife Kerry called ‘False Witness’ which stars a talented actress named Darcie Lincoln as the lead. The film explores PTSD and Kerry and I are really excited about this.