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Zombies say more about politics than brains

PORT GAMBLE — Turning Port Gamble into a zombie-infested island for the next 20 days should be no problem for cast and crew from Typecast Films, especially with the outpouring of fascination and support from residents interested in being extras. Producer John Sinno said he hasn’t run into any problems in filming “Zombies of Mass Destruction,” and Port Gamble was the perfect town for the at-first-glance horror flick.

At second glance, the movie morphs into a political dialogue about how Americans react to certain disastrous situations, and how this country changed after Sept. 11, 2001. The zombies represent the danger — the terror — and the characters’ reaction to it speaks to how citizens in the U.S. cope with actual crises.

“In the movie, it is a small island invaded by zombies, and the people of the island respond,” Sinno said. “This is a political film, with an important message for America after 9/11.”

Sinno produced the 2007 Academy Award nominated documentary, “Iraq In Fragments,” which has a strong dialogue about the Iraqi people.

He said “ZMD” was interesting and different in its message, and marks his first fictional film. Twenty-four-year-old director Kevin Hamedani is exciting to work with and full of unique and different ideas, Sinno said.

“The movie gig thing is not as glamorous as everyone thinks,” said stunt double Indus Alelia. She went from being a ballerina to doubling for characters in different independent films. “I liked (the message), I liked the script.”

Extras Coordinator Assistant Constance Best said people usually gravitate to projects that represent their feelings on a certain subject, in this case a statement about American politics and awareness. She also said making a movie is different from anything else, and after eight takes of the same scene, the message can fade a bit.

“I think there are a lot of people who are being selective about what they work on,” she said. “A lot of them, a lot of people care about what they get involved with.”

Several of the extras, however, didn’t pay as much attention to the message of the film itself and more to the fun of dressing up, acting in the background and, in early November, dressing as zombies.

“Oh yeah, that’s one of the major reasons we signed up,” Gamblewood resident Katelyn Belzer said of being a zombie. “One of the nights of shooting is (Gamblewood resident Katie Buchanan’s) birthday, we’re really looking forward to that.”

“I’m so excited, it’s going to be the best birthday ever,” Buchanan added.

Much of being an extra involves sitting around, and Poulsbo residents Jim Welch and Richard Bradshaw were catching up on reading and relaxing while they awaited their turn to cross a street or loiter in the background.

“I’ve always done stage theater, I’ve never done movies,” Welch said. He acts with Ovation Musical Theater on Bainbridge Island, which was how he heard about the film. “It’s an interesting change.”

“I have absolutely no acting experience at all,” Bradshaw added with a laugh. He said he drove to Port Gamble out of curiosity after hearing about the horror flick on the news. Being an extra seemed like fun, so he said he decided to stay on set and observe what movie making was like behind the scenes.

Many of the Port Gamble business owners were also becoming involved in the movie as extras. Port Gamble General Store Owner Ethel Molina said she might be an extra for the day on Wednesday, and was excited by all of the movie making magic taking place in the historical town.

“This has been amazing,” Sinno said. “We are very happy with the response, we love Port Gamble, we love (Port Gamble Manager Shana Smith) and her group... It doesn’t take a lot to make Port Gamble look spooky, especially at night.”

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