Not long ago, we were telling you about a zombie movie like no other before: “Colin” by Welsh director Marc Price was unique in more ways than one
. For starters, it had been made on a budget of just $70 (£45); secondly, it brought something new to the table in that it was shot entirely from the zombie’s perspective; and, last but not least, it premiered at Cannes and managed to cast in a corner of shade Hollywood big productions whose budgets were somewhere in the range of millions of dollars. For such a small film and a new director, these are clearly amazing accomplishments.
Understandably then, when we got to speak to Marc for the first time, we had many questions – and we mean many
. Good chance had it that Marc Price
, although very busy with the almost unexpected wave of attention coming towards him, was more than happy to answer all of them, and then some, showing that, for once, hoping that there still are people in the industry passionate about what they do and not motivated solely by financial gain is not absurd.
Marc is as open about what he does for a living when he’s not making movies as he is about detailing every little aspect about how “Colin” came to be. There is not a single trace of conceit about him, the kind one would expect from someone who’s recently been featured in the vast majority of important movie-oriented publications and news outlets, and hearing him speak of how he came to do this particular movie reminded us of that child-like joy we all felt when we were growing up and did something that was received unexpectedly warmly. I work for a car service in Central London called Creative Cars & Couriers. I work the late shift so it’s generally pretty quiet and the company has been fantastic. They let me do my own thing so I wrote and even edited most of “Colin” at the office on a portable hard drive and laptop.
Marc says of how he was able to invest no less than 18 months in this bold project.
He doesn’t have experience in moviemaking either – not that this should count for anything. As he said before, Marc learned how to work the camera from watching DVD specials, mainly the director’s cut part with the comments. “Colin” was not necessarily a major challenge in this sense since he’s a zombie and doesn’t really speak in the film, Marc tells us almost with glee. Understandably, he initially set out to make this film thinking of hardcore horror fans and offering them something that they would enjoy. “Colin” is our first feature length project and I came up with the idea after some friends gathered to watch the European cut of Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Being a massive fan I wanted to try something new and wasn’t aware of any film that had been told from the perspective of the zombie. Since then, of course, I’ve been made aware of “I, Zombie,” but their approach to the subject is different to ours. I’d love to see it! I certainly didn’t expect anyone beyond the hardest of hardcore zombie fans to even take notice of the film. So it’s a total surprise that anyone is interested in it!
“Colin” started as an idea I blurted out to my hungover friends. I had some very specific ideas as to where the story would lead but those ideas developed more precisely as I wrote the script. I’m lucky enough to have actors like Alastair Kirton as a friend, so I was able to contact him almost immediately and tell him what I wanted to do with the character and see if he’d be interested in playing the part… fortunately for me he was interested and said “yes”!
Despite the raving reviews that the film has already got in Cannes and with the media still in awe as to how he could pull off an entire film on just $70, Marc is still modest about his first major project. I don’t know that “Colin” is any sort of phenomenon… but people do seem to be intrigued by the low cost of making it. Colin and his journey needed to come before anything else. We wanted the film to have a lot of heart and ultimately to make the audience quite sad. It was satisfying to hear that a few people at the Cannes screenings had shed a few tears!
In the end, it all boils down to the public, for whom Marc Price has the utmost respect. He’s not the one to ever underestimate an audience by offering a project that is predictable from the first minutes, but neither by putting out something that is too “artsy” to be properly enjoyed, he tells us. Making “Colin” was his gift to horror fans, his own take on a classic and by-now dead beat story, albeit it does allow for other interpretations as well; making “Colin” cheap, that is, without sponsors, was Marc’s way of not selling out. Not really… [I certainly did not mean “Colin” as] a slap in Hollywood’s face. The idea was that we had this story that we wanted to tell and I didn’t really like the idea of having to send the script out for others to decide whether it was worthy enough to become a movie. So instead of seeking out funding or throwing large sums of our own money at the project we decided to find a way to tell our story the way we wanted without sacrificing the action expected from a zombie film but always with a mind on the heart of the story which was Colin’s journey.
Speaking of journeys, this brings us again to the movie itself. Cue to Marc: The film is about a man who is bitten, dies and returns from the dead. We get a glimpse of how human-Colin was through the objects and places that zombie-Colin becomes attached to. The idea was to use a non-human character to examine what it means to be human. I felt that Romero used zombies successfully to reflect socially relevant issues so what we wanted to do with “Colin” was to take a more existential approach and examine humanity in a character who by its very nature has none.
I think, particularly with zombies, there’s room for so much allegory and analysis I couldn’t think of a reason not to turn to this genre. Zombie fans have so much passion and respect that our ridiculously low budget shouldn’t hinder their experience of “Colin.”
While Marc can count on horror fans to support “Colin” all the way, when it comes to critics, the story might turn out differently. I did travel to Cannes with the film… but I wasn’t brave enough to sit through the screenings. I heard they can be quite brutal and thought it would better suit my nerves to go for a beer and wait for it to end! The critical response to “Colin” prior to the festival had been very good. I’m sure we’re due a critical lashing but so far we’ve been lucky!
Criticism and reviews aside, fans want to know when they will finally get the chance to see “Colin” in theaters, and this is the only question that Marc can’t answer with precision. I don’t know an awful lot about the distribution deals our fantastic sales agent, Helen Grace, has been working on. I trust her implicitly and she’s resisting telling me who she’s dealing with because I’m a blabbermouth and will tell everyone and damage her hard work!
When we ask Marc whether he thinks he stands a chance of going mainstream in the US, given the propensity of audiences here for blockbuster productions that rely on impressive budgets (which translate into jaw-dropping explosions and mind-bending special effects), he remains optimistic, again out of respect for his public. I think a US audience (like any other audience) has a wide spectrum of tastes. There will be some who will hate what we’ve done and others who will appreciate it and there will be the rest who (worst of all) will think it mediocre and forget about it in a few weeks. I just hope we get a chance to find an audience who will enjoy and analyze our film and watch it multiple times.
What’s next for Marc Price? I’d love to be able to give up the day job and work on films but I’m not able to do that quite yet! Making “Colin” the way we did was a completely life changing experience. Everyone put so much into the film and I hope all of them like the finished movie. I think it would be a tad premature to think of “Colin” as a hit quite yet, but I certainly hope it finds an audience that will love the little guy as much as we do. I’ve learned so much in the making of “Colin” that I’d like to continue making films and grow as a director and try different things whilst always working on projects close to my heart.
Marc Price is also gearing up for work on another project, which will, again, try to break the mold on what moviegoers hold as traditional. In the meanwhile, he’s working hard to get “Colin” out there – an endeavor in which we wish him all the best.
Thanks to Marc Price and Helen Grace for making this interview happen. For more on “Colin,” please see here