Sighting the “Dead”: An Interview with Liv Collins

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Liv Collins is a force to be reckoned with in her native Canada. Starting out in short films, she is making her way to become a great storyteller, producer, and star with her latest film, the horror film Deadsight, which will be hitting DVD and On Demand on July 2 from RLJE Films.

World Film Geek had the chance to talk to Collins about making the film.

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Hey Liv! Thank you so much for talking about Deadsight. This was an excellent film and I loved the fact that these two “heroes” had major flaws but had to work together to survive.
That’s awesome to hear! I always wanted to make a minimalist zombie film. I always loved horror films, especially zombie films. And I thought what would be the situation? We actually started it as a comedy, which would be about this blind guy who narrowly avoids the zombies. We thought that is a bit too ridiculous, so we kept the darker elements and made it a full horror film.

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Adam Seybold and Liv Collins in Deadsight (RLJE Films/Raven Banner)

You not only star in the film but you’re credited as a co-writer. What was your inspiration in scripting the film?
Well, we had originally thought of it as a comedy at first. I worked with the co-writer Kevin [Revie] and my husband Jesse [Thomas Cook, the producer/director] and we thought of some of the characters and I was actually seven months pregnant when we began shooting in December. And we were looking for someone to play the character of Mara, and Jesse suggested that I should play her. And I thought he was crazy at first (laughs) but then we have her and this blind man. I mean can they really help each other out? So that’s what we came up with.

That’s amazing to hear that you were pregnant during shooting. To me, that just adds a level of realism to the film.
Oh yeah! We finished most of the filming in December and I became a mom on February 1.

The film really showed some good chemistry between you and Adam Seybold, who plays the blind Ben. What was it like working with him?
He is amazing! We worked together on a film prior to this one. And we had a blast with this one. It was a lot of fun. When you work with friends, it’s a good thing. I mean there are times when you are working long nights. It gets cold. You’re tired. And the scene where we are in the house and I told him he can’t go with me, I start yelling at him because I don’t want him to be a liability. And out of the blue during filming, he just says something, and we end up laughing so hard. And we couldn’t recover. I was still laughing. It may have seemed like a waste of time but we were having too much fun. He’s a blast! Very funny guy!

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A zombie is about to get hers in Deadsight (RLJE Films/Raven Banner)

What was it like working with director Jesse Thomas Cook? He seems to have a sharp eye when it comes to the visuals of the film. The lighting was perfect. Was it his idea to visualize it? Did he help with the script?
Yes, he actually visualized what to do with the script. He already had our locations set up, which helped us make up this story. When you have your locations, it’s like you have your different sections, factories, and so forth. That’s something he really wanted to treat it and he was very involved with the script writing. One of the locations we used was this abandoned house and we had used it before for another film we did together, so we were very familiar with it. We would walk through the house and he would say, ‘well, we should do this’ and ‘I want this to happen’. So it helped that he would visualize everything based on these locations as well. It was awesome!

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Liv Collins as Mara in Deadsight (RLJE Films/Raven Banner)

Is there a scene you would consider your favorite shooting and why?
I have to say, it was it is towards the end and I am suffering these labor pains. A zombie comes up to me and I scream at the top of my lungs! We shot that scene in these terminals. They are so cold and empty that if you were outside and hear someone scream, it sounds like someone is actually being murdered (laughs), but I have to say I had so much fun actually screaming at the top of my lungs in that scene.

I would say that alone could give you potential as a scream queen (Laughs). Were there any difficulties that you had to endure while shooting?
Yes! We shot the film in this rural area that we also live in called Collingwood, which is on Ontario as well as Owen Sound. It is known for its heavy winters. We shot a majority of the film in seven days and then, we were hit with a heavy blizzard! So, we had to wait for this blizzard to be finished and swallowed our pride and in April, we finished shooting the rest of the film. We also lost one of our data cards and I was so upset because here I was proud of what we had done and granted, I was still pregnant at the time, but I was so upset because we worked so hard on this and we lost the data card. So, there were a lot of obstacles.

When we began picking up in April, I already had my baby. So, I had to wear this prosthetic belly, which weighed a lot. It was a blessing in disguise because the good thing about it was that we shot a scene in a cemetery where I was going to chased by a zombie. Now, I obviously couldn’t do it being seven months pregnant because that was dangerous, but now that it was April, I told the actor who played the zombie, Justin Darmanin, to bring it on! (Laughs) I told him not to hold back and he went for it! And he looked very scary in that make-up. I was scared! But it all worked out.

And that’s the thing with films. Always have a backup plan because plans might not work out as you want, so you need to come up with ways to eventually make it work and that’s what we did.

Finally, are there any projects that you can talk about that are coming up?
I actually finished my directorial debut just last week [ed note: at the time of the interview]. It’s a comedy called To Hell with Harvey. It stars Canadian author Tony Burgess and my 18-year old brother Greg Collins. It’s about a young aspiring writer who is assisting this old reclusive author on his comeback book tour. And it’s ridiculous. We shot it in Collingwood and Owen Sound as well. We actually used the same abandoned house that we used in Deadsight. And there’s all this weird stuff that happens on their trip. We just finished that and we have two more movies planned this year.

That’s awesome and I will say when To Hell with Harvey is released, I would definitely want to see that! Deadsight comes to DVD and On Demand on July 2. Any zombie film fan who wants to see something a bit different with a fresh approach will want to see this! Thank you so much again Liv for talking about the film.
Thank you for having me! It’s been a pleasure.

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Liv Collins for making this interview possible.

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