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British actor Andrew Lincoln is about to get whacked upside the head with a shovel, and three-time Academy Award-nominated writer/director Frank Darabont is smiling.
Lincoln feigns taking a wicked blow to the noggin and drops out of camera range.
“Cut!” Darabont shouts. “Let’s do it again.”
Take two. Lincoln gives more of a neck jerk the second time around, and his director grins at the video monitor. “OK, a third take, then let’s move on.”
Lincoln, who is likely to be unknown to Fango readers (unless you’re a secret romcom fan and know him from Richard Curtis’ Love Actually), rotates his head, stretches and waits for Darabont’s command. On cue, the actor jerks and drops onto the crash mat beside him. Satisfied, the director of the much-loved The Shawshank Redemption and other acclaimed Stephen King adaptations like THE GREEN MILE and THE MIST marshals the crew of THE WALKING DEAD to set up the next shot, then takes a break to talk to FANGORIA.
It’s day 10 of a 14-day shoot for this pilot. “Time becomes its own redefined element when you’re filming. What day is this? Monday…boy,” Darabont sighs. “Normally, I’d schedule 16 days to shoot a pilot, but I lopped two days off my own schedule voluntarily to give relief to the other directors.”
A six-part series for basic cable network AMC, home to the controversial BREAKING BAD and the hit MAD MEN, THE WALKING DEAD is based on the ongoing, New York Times Best Selling comic-book/graphic-novel series by Robert Kirkman (see page 23), published by Image Comics. Darabont is an executive producer and the writer/director of the pilot, which he is shooting in hot, humid Atlanta, Georgia. His partner in zombie armageddon is fellow exec producer Gale Anne Hurd, who has, of course, been delighting genre aficionados since 1984’s THE TERMINATOR, producing ALIENS, THE RELIC and numerous other Fango favorites. They are the dream team for an ambitious, boundary-pushing TV show such as this one. Add special makeup master Greg Nicotero and KNB EFX to the mix, and whichever way you cut the cards, THE WALKING DEAD has “bloody big hit” written all over it (accent on the blood; you’re going to be amazed at the gore on your flatscreen when the series premieres in late October).
Darabont’s eyes rack focus for a few beats as he surveys how the next setup is progressing. After years of making big features and helming an episode of the adrenalin-fueled cop show THE SHIELD (season six’s “Chasing Ghosts”), he admits he now likes to work fast but very focused, stressing that speed doesn’t mean sacrificing quality.
For the whole story, pick up FANGORIA #297, on sale this month. Go here for full issue details, and here to subscribe to the magazine!
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