Maybe your leisurely walks through Long Island’s beautiful parks don’t turn into the budding concepts of zombie movies. But then you aren’t Debra Markowitz, whose idea for a horror/comedy film was sparked at Mill Pond two years ago.
The president of the Long Island International Film Expo, director of the Nassau County Film Office, novelist and filmmaker was so inspired by the current crop of contributions to the zombie genre that she came up with her own. Filmed in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, The Last Taxi Driver, about a disgruntled taxi driver who refuses to give up his taxi when most of the inhabitants left are zombies, is Markowitz’s answer to the legendary DeNiro/Scorsese film and AMC’s The Walking Dead.
“Working with this incredible team of actors and crew on The Last Taxi Driver just renewed my faith in all that is good,” Markowitz wrote on her Facebook page. “All the filmmakers who stepped in just to help, to create, to collaborate—and all without egos. People who LOVE what they do, and loving nothing better then ‘set life.’ I’m very thankful and appreciative—and I can’t wait to do it again.”
Written and produced with her partner John Marean of Rapier Wit Films, the Majors Productions, and Steve Page Productions, they hope to premiere the film this July at the LI film expo. The cast features tons of local talent that came together to form what Markowitz calls her “film family.” In addition to Robert Clohessy (of the CBS series Blue Bloods) and Emily Jackson (of the Fox seriesFringe and the film Incarnate), there was a zombie played by Raj Mehta, the president of Infosys in Plainview and author Judy San Roman from Huntington who wrote They’re Fake and They’re Fabulous about surviving breast cancer and two children’s books, and Deborah Twiss from Kick-Ass.
“It was crazy!” Markowitz laughed, considering the weather conditions.Through the wind, rain, sleet, and snow that pummeled LI in the last week of February, the cast of The Last Taxi Driver showed up ready to get to work.
It took three days to complete the filming. The first day of shooting was in frigid February weather. The second day: snow. The third day saw rain, but it tapered off in the afternoon, allowing them to wrap up, the gray skies keeping with the continuity of the film despite the ever-changing weather.
February turned out to be the perfect time to film in Eisenhower Park, with the polar-vortex-induced weather keeping anyone who wasn’t involved in the production far away from the set, leaving them with the entirety of the park to themselves.
A snowstorm complicated filming when a snow bank limited access to a spot they had scouted to film. The team of professionals quickly improvised, and with slight variations, they were able to continue.
A grassroots indiegogo fundraising page created with the help of Majors Productions that raised over $11,000 in less than a month financed the production.
With filming completed, the film is now in the editing process. What footage doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor, as they say, will be ripe for flesh-eating zombies.