Tuesday, June 4, 2013

‘Zombies’ invade Western New York in locally produced film

The undead have made their way to a chicken and bee farm in Western New York, and it’s all been caught on film.

The zombie genre has been a hot commodity of late on television and film, and a group of producers and actors have taken over the five-acre farm of Eran Colbus to join the gory trend. The film “Within” has been filming on the spacious farm land in Ransomville for a few months, and a recent breezy Sunday afternoon saw the group preparing for the night’s shoot, which was the film’s climactic final scene. 

Produced by Little Sicily Productions and directed by Ken Consentino, the film will star Noah Wisniewski as Danny and Cynthia LaForest-Gerber as Danny’s mother Katrina. As in most of the recent zombie apocalypse films and shows that have become so wildly popular, a spreading blood-borne disease creates an army of undead seeking to feast on the living. But rather than give up, Danny and Katrina pull together a mish-mosh of people eager to fight the zombies.

But unlike many of the other zombie-focused productions as of late, the backstory of the group is just as important, if not more important, than the fact that the dead have come back to life to feast on the living. 

“It’s a bit like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ in that there are five strangers all in a house surviving the zombie apocalypse,” Consentino said. “All these people get stuck in a house and tensions rise, trying to survive it.”

Written by Jon Ferrari, the production is all Western New York; from makeup artists and actors to writers and producers. Having such a small group of people can have its disadvantages, but for LaForest-Gerber, she said the experience has shown her that there are a lot of diamonds in the rough in the area who are looking for a chance like this to show off their talents.

“Living in this area, there’s lot of untapped resources. Lot of the reason is because there’s not a lot of opportunity, so when an opportunity comes knocking you open the door,” she said. “So I opened the door and this has been amazing.”

The one star of the film that won’t get a film credit is the farm where the film is being shot. For Colbus, who keeps bees and chickens on his expansive farm, having a film crew take over his property has been a truly remarkable experience.

“My friend… put out a request on Facebook asking ‘Does anybody have a farm house we could use for shooting of this film?’ I knew nothing about it. They came by, checked it out… I had no idea they were going to take over my entire house seven weekends consecutively,” he said. “In no way did I ever suspect that it would turn in to what I think is a rather serious movie. These people are not weekend warriors, these people are gung ho.”

At least two independent film distributors have voiced an interest in releasing the film, but Consentino is dreaming big, now that the production is all but wrapped up.

“We’re going to wait because there’s probably going to be interest once we have a finished product to show major distributors. Who knows?”


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