Manchester duo bag funding to breathe life into zombie film to rival Walking Dead

A pair of Manchester filmmakers have secured over £7,000 worth of funding to shoot a short zombie film with a twist, which they describe as being both ‘disturbing’ and ‘beautiful’.

Mat Johns and Chris Lane initially secured a grant of £5,000 from Creative England to shoot their low-budget film A Father’s Day, but received an additional £2,000 via a Crowdfunder project in a matter of days to specifically finance specialist prosthetic make-up.

Leading make-up artist Shaune Harrison, who has previously worked on the sets of popular films such as Harry Potter I-VII, World War Z and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, has been drafted in by the pair to help on the seven-minute epic.

“It’s The Road meets Tree of Life meets The Walking Dead,” Mat told MM when asked to describe A Father’s Day in one sentence.

“Chris and myself have made many short films, both together and apart, but this is the first time we have secured funding, and Creative England have genuinely been incredibly supportive.

“They believe in nurturing talent, not stifling it and trying to change the work’s original intentions. We hope this is the beginning of a good relationship with Creative England.”

Mat revealed that he wasn’t confident of securing the initial funding from Creative England, with the film being in direct competition with 349 other applicants.

But their script was fortunately selected as one of 19 winning entries, which he said came as a huge surprise.

“I was not confident we’d get the funding because the film is leaning toward the horror genre,” he said.

“I hoped that the twist to the genre-norm in the script would sway our chances, but if I’m honest, I didn’t expect to get through.

“I wrote the script three years ago and shelved it because of other projects happening at the time, and Chris suggested we dust the script off and submit it to iShorts, and so we did.

“We are so happy to be a part of the selection.”

Mat explained that he was immediately in contact with Shaune Harrison as soon as he discovered the good news and believed his input could push the film to the next level.

The pair have known each other since Mat worked as a cinematographer on his 2015 film The Box.

“Shaune is a gent and a bit of a hero of mine,” he said.

“He’s done so much cool work on films that love, and that’s in part because of his work.

“His experience is incredible and he has the know-how, but more than that he’s a committed artist and a massive zombie fan.

“Shaune leading the make-up team, with his skills and his passion, will make our zombies the best they can be, and so raise the quality of the film. It’s an honor to have him and his team on board.”

Mat described how A Father’s Day was a zombie film with a twist and could offer something different to the traditional format.

“It isn’t a typical zombie movie because the protagonists are the undead – a father and daughter who don’t entirely understand their connection, and they go on a journey and discover the people they might have once been,” he said.

“We are depending entirely on physical performances and limited vocal interaction.

“There’s no dialogue in the film, and I want to approach the performances in way that feels almost like a documentary.

“We’ve seen movies where zombies are the focus of the piece, but these films have a lot of romantic dialogue to support their narratives.”

“It’s a chance for us to try and bridge a gap between different audience tastes and sensibilities with a film that’s both beautiful and disturbing all at once.”

The deadline for the delivery of A Father’s Day is September 1.

You can donate to Mat and Chris’ Crowdfunder project by clicking here.

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