The Manifesting Undead is more than a film, and it’s a HELL of a lot more than “just a zombie film”. It’s a personal story of mine that I’ve spent the past four years of my life perfecting. At times it became a hyped-up film that never got made, and at other times, it became a film I abandoned completely. But I think part of me knew that I couldn’t abandon this spark of an idea I had spent so much time on, pumping out draft after draft, version after version (and let me tell you, there are MANY different versions, all with the same basic idea, but they go in completely different directions). So let me give you some history about this project before I tell you the future of it.
It’s March 2011, and I’m a whopping 17 years old. I’m just a kid with a camera, and the latest stupid short film I had just finished making was called “The Manifesting Undead”. It was a horribly awful short film that even I didn’t take seriously, but out of all of the work I spent on it, I did get one thing from it- A really, REALLY cool title. And with this title, my mind had only a vague idea about zombies, devil worshipers, and promiscuous teenagers. Flash forward almost a year, December 17th, 2011, and I have a new short film with the same really cool title ready to shoot. This time, though, the short film wasn’t going to star myself as a rockstar zombie, and it wasn’t going to be 5 minutes long. This time, the script was about 48 pages, and I was casting kids from the local high school’s drama club to act in the film. I had just printed off the first copy of the script, and auditions were only one day away. What better way to celebrate than to go to the park, roll a big fat doobie up on the script, and smoke away the hangover from the night before, and all the late nights I spent writing it. Right? Wrong.
Not ten seconds after we finish rolling the joint using my script as a rolling tray, a cop comes up claiming to have gotten a call about some kids at the park smoking a joint. ‘But we just rolled it, we didn’t even light it up’, I thought. Didn’t matter. I went to jail. Auditions, cancelled, the movie, postponed. Until, mid-January, 2012. We got the local movie theatre in Chickasha, Oklahoma to hold our auditions, and we had a decent turn-out for the lack of advertising. We had about 20 people there, all reading in an un-used screening room on a relaxed Sunday evening. Some people sucked, some blew us away, and some were just downright hilarious. But all in all, we met some really awesome people. Unfortunately, none of those people were put to good use. My drug and alcohol habits rapidly increased, so naturally, my desire to make a movie that cost money that I could spend on drugs, decreased.
Months later, I realized what the hell I was doing, and slowly weened myself off of all the drugs and alcohol, and came back full force, stronger than ever, with even darker stories to tell. With the help of one fabulous (un-named) woman, I was able to acquire all of the equipment I needed, and began to rewrite a new, revamped, full-length version of “The Manifesting Undead”. About 16 pages in, I realized that this story was still not the one I wanted to tell, seeming more like Rob Zombie’s remake of “Halloween” than an original story by me. I gave up. I noticed the zombie trend slowly dying down. I didn’t want to make a zombie film anymore. Not one bit.
Instead, I refocus my attention to what I should have been doing a long time ago, which was making short films. Not the kind of “short films” I made at 17 and younger, but serious and well crafted short films. So I did. I wrote a short film called “The Legende Immortal”, one called “Numb”, and another called “Mammon” (which we shot about 80% of and lost every single bit of footage). With no luck on shooting most of them, I just kind of made some friends get together one day to film the most simple and straight-forward script I had, which was “Numb”. It turned out to be even better than I had hoped, but at this point, I was so fixated on my western story “The Legende Immortal”, that I didn’t even think about “The Manifesting Undead”. A lot of failed attempts to start projects up ensue between November, 2012, until March, 2014. I only have one short film, but now, I’m flying to Colorado to help put some finishing touches on an indie zombie film over there. When I get back, my vigor is renewed once again, and I remember “I ONLY HAVE ONE FUCKING SHORT FILM AND I’M ALMOST 21 YEARS OLD”.
I sit down, and within weeks, I finish my first feature length script, “The Legende Immortal”. I budget the film to a measly $15,000, but no one thinks I can make the film for that cheap. A lot of people are pressuring me to write a cheap horror flick, and a lot of industry pros are telling me to stick to short films for the time. But what do I want to do? I don’t really know. I piece together a short film completely by myself based on some old material, and it’s called “The Minute Glass”. With the exception of one voice over, despite what the credits say, I made the entire thing on my own. Makeup, camera, sound, editing, etc. And lo and behold, it turns out like SHIT!
I don’t let it hold me down. So I start writing more short films that I can film with minimal actors and crew. Now comes “The Homicide Syndrome”. I’ve got a script, and everything is in place… No, wait, everyone bails on me the day before shooting, like usual. Fuck it, I’ll act in it myself, again. We shoot some promo posters, and even a teaser trailer, and plan to film it soon. Then I get a driver gig on a bigger budget film in Guthrie, Oklahoma, called “Monday At 11:01 A.M.”, which is cool for some experience. I spend a month doing that film, and come back home in December, 2014. Seeing a “real” movie set, I realize that “The Legende Immortal” might be too big for the budget I have it at, so I now know I need to write something else that can fit a tighter budget. But what? I have absolutely zero new ideas, and I’m still mostly stuck on the western, so I let the holidays play their course so my mind can refresh…
January, 2015, I’m sitting around, and the best idea in the world comes to me, and what do you know? It’s the perfect plot for “The Manifesting Undead”. It centers around a group of ghost hunters that investigate a strange house that they are given very little information on, and during this investigation, they are overrun by a horde of zombies that are oustide, trying to get in. In the end of the film, strange revelations are brought out into the open that were hidden deep in the underbelly of this strange and evil house.
The film is based on a true story. People are asking how I can write a zombie film that is also based on a true story, and well, that is sort of the hook of the film. It IS based in reality, using the zombies as a mere backdrop to tell a deeper and more rich story. It is based on my own personal experiences as a videographer working with a paranormal research team on some really weird investigations to strange houses, and that is where the reality lies.
So, myself and producer Max Wagner, co-founder of the paranormal team C.P.R.S., or, Chickasha Paranormal Research Society, are working together to craft a film that holds true to what real “ghost hunters” do, while also combining the ficticious aspects of zombies and surrealistic paranormal entities.
This is a feature length film, budgeted at around $5,000, to be shot entirely on location in Chickasha, Oklahoma. We will film the entire feature running a “skeleton crew”, which is just a fancy/creepy way of saying “a small crew”, which will contain about 10 or less of us. The cast will contain 4 ghost hunters, one strange man, a dead body, and hordes of zombie extras to be played by whomever wishes to become the manifesting undead. We have the equipment we need, and a good portion of the crew already selected, and we’re on our way to crafting a fun film, whether it comes out good or bad, we’re excited about taking the journey…
If you’re interested in helping in any way, shape or form, don’t hesitate to message the filmmakers on our official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingUndead
or, you can directly message the studio behind the film:
We are considering starting a crowdfunding campaign for this film, either on IndieGogo, Kickstarter, or GoFundMe. If you’re interested in donating BEFORE we launch one of those, message one of the above pages on how you can do so.
We thank you for all your support, no matter how big or small you might think it is, it all helps us tremendously to get down the road of our first feature film!
Copyright 2015 by Kyle Oliver
Kyle Oliver is an award-nominated filmmaker for his first short film Numb, which he wrote and directed. He is also the CEO/Owner of Vintage Image Films. You can find him on Twitter @ThatKyleOliver, and Vintage Image Films on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/VintageImageFilm