TFS Festival Quickie: April Mullen and Tim Doiron, Dead Before Dawn 3D

Celebrating its North American premiere at the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, Canadian horror-adventure-comedy Dead Before Dawn 3D  was filmed in Niagara Falls and was directed by Ryerson University grad April Mullen from a screenplay by Tim Doiran. The film  follows a bunch of college kids as they inadvertently unleash an evil curse that causes everyone they make eye contact with to kill themselves and turn into zombie-demons (aka “Zemons”).

Toronto Film Scene spoke with Mullen and Doiron about their decidedly unique take on the traditional zombie film.

Describe your film in 10 words or less:

A 3D adventure! The Goonies meets Shaun of the Dead !

Where did the idea for the film come from?

We knew we wanted to shoot in 3D before we came up with the concept for the film, so the 3D aspect really informed the story. We also knew we wanted to do a genre picture and thought it was the perfect fit with 3D. From there we decided to put a fresh spin on Zombies and that was when Zemons were born. We wanted to frame the story in a way that would be appropriate for a younger demographic and would also allow comedy to factor into the piece. We come from a comedy background and we didn’t want the story to become too dark.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your film?

It’s a 3D adventure that’s meant to be seen with friends on the big screen.

What was the best thing about production?

ALL OF IT ! We both love being on-set because you get to see everything come together after building all the ground work. It’s so refreshing to finally see what’s on the page and in your head pop out in front of you on the monitors. Being on set is exhilarating, we are both addicted to the energy and challenge of it all. We love the creative process from beginning to end and can never get enough. We also enjoy sharing the film with audiences – seeing them laugh, smile and be entertained.

A scene from "Dead Before Dawn 3D"
A scene from “Dead Before Dawn 3D”

The most challenging?

The challenge of shooting a stereoscopic 3D feature on tight timelines. We shot the film in a record 20 days, so we had to be very efficient with every minute on set. Also, we were shooting during the shortest nights of the year and the majority of the film was shot at night. All this meant that pre-planning was crucial.

Shooting in 3D totally impacted the script. For example, when shooting 3D there are a lot more long smooth camera moves to allow the audience to explore the 3D landscape with their eyes. This fact makes the shooting more theatrical in nature. You’ll have the actors moving through the space instead of have numerous shots cutting back and forth. When writing we always kept that in mind, which resulted in a lot of scenes with a lot of characters interacting with one another.

Which filmmaker most inspires you?

We are in awe of so many amazing talents out there. The list is just too long. We have so much admiration and respect for filmmakers who create their own work from start to finish with a strong vision. Some examples would be David Lynch, Tim Burton, David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin, The Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino, Charlie Chaplin. The list goes on and on…

If you could make your dream film, what would it be?

We plan on working our entire lives to capture that special spark, that perfectly mixed moment. We are looking to create a universal film that large audiences can all relate to, one that will stand the tests of time, be entertaining and life changing. That’s the dream.

What are you working on next?

We are working on our next feature film at the moment and plan on shooting fall of 2013! Keep up to date here. Also check out our first two films Rock, Paper, Scissors: the Way of the Tosser and Gravy Train .

Dead By Dawn 3D closes out the TIFF Next Wave Festival on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:30pm. Both April Mullen and Tim Doiron will be on hand for a Q&A, poster signing and photo opportunity session.  Visit the TIFF website for more info.



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Kristal Cooper

Kristal Cooper has been a film buff since the age of two when her parents began sneaking her into the drive-in every weekend. Since then, she's pursued that passion by working for the Toronto International Film Festival and the Canadian Film Centre as well as spending many a happy hour inside Toronto's wonderful theatres (she still mourns the loss of The Uptown). She is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture and feminist issues, and continues to slog away at her day job as a small cog in the giant machinery of the Toronto film community.

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