If you are currently in college it is more likely than not that either you or someone you know has fought a zombie or two. Humans vs. Zombies is a moderated tag game spreading across college campuses everywhere. It basically allows one to practice their survival skills while defending the campus against a zombie attack. In other words, it puts the old standard Capture the Flag to shame. This popular tag game has now been immortalized into a hit movie of the same name which will make its television debut on Chiller TV this Friday (2/17/12). Join us as “Humans vs. Zombies” star Frederic Doss shares his secrets on everything from zombie survival drills to creating your own opportunities.
MV: Welcome to Movie Vine, Frederic. Thank you for taking the time to discuss your new film, “Humans vs. Zombies”.
Frederic: Always a pleasure to take time for the folks at Movie Vine!
MV: Were you familiar with the Humans vs. Zombies game before filming?
Frederic: When Brian Jaynes, the director, first approached me about the film, he explained to me that it was based on the game. I had no clue. So, I went to youtube and surfed the net and what I found disappointed me. WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE?! They sure didn’t have it on my campus, which is probably a good thing because my grades would have suffered horribly.
MV: Would you walk us through how your character, Frank, makes the transition from a regular guy to the hero trying to save the day?
Frederic: Frank is a security guard at the campus and a bit of a whacked out conspiracy nut due, in part, to some bad experiences in the Gulf War. Because he is an avid believer that these things can (and will) actually happen, he’s better prepared than most “normal” folks who chalk up things like zombie apocalypse and reptoids from the 4th dimensions as pure David Icke drivel. Well, who’s laughing now?
MV: Was there a particular moment in reading the script where you felt Frank change gears from flight to fight?
Frederic: Frank is an even mixture of both. When it’s time to fight, he tears stuff up, but there are times when you need to hunker down like any good survivalist will tell you.
MV: What are some of the lessons you learned that are crucial in surviving a zombie apocalypse? Most importantly where is the best place to hide?
Frederic: When I was a kid, my buddies and I would sit out on my front porch and run each other through zombie survival drills. We’d lay out different scenarios and toss monkey wrenches in each others plans. By the time I was 13, we had it pretty much down and this was before Romero started making bad movies!
The best place for me was the local YMCA building in my home town of Joplin, Missouri. Everyone wants to go to the Wal-Mart or sporting goods store or National Guard Armory, but in a real emergency like that, those places will turn into a swarming pile of death.
Our Y on the other hand, was easily defensible, a 4 story old brick building with a basement. Lots for entertainment (fooseball tables, pool tables, weight room, even a running track on the 4th floor) and plenty of room for survivors. All you had to do was forage the surrounding area for food and ammo.
MV: If you came face to face with some hungry zombies what would your weapon of choice be, and what music would you want playing on your iPod to amp you up during the fight?
Frederic: Whoa, I happen to have the Mossberg 500 shotgun Frank uses in the film, so that would be fun. The problem with that gun is that reloading isn’t exactly easy and you don’t have a ton of shots. That’s why I have an M4 at the house with plenty of magazines and a tactical vest. Hard to really over-prepare. I’d have to say my music of choice for zombie slaying would be a mix of Five Finger Death Punch (what I listened to when we were filming “HvZ”), Mastodon and Disturbed.
MV: The special effects make-up in “HvZ” looks amazing. Did you ever find yourself feeling a little scared trying to fend off the bloody zombie hordes?
Frederic: Heck yeah, Michael Jaynes did an AMAZING job with the effects make-up. My wife likes to torture me sometimes by making zombie noises when I’m trying to go to sleep. These things really freak me out and Michael didn’t help. Plus, the people of Pittsburg, TX were awesome and many of them totally nailed the zed in a way that was utterly terrifying.
There is one scene in particular in the film where I’m trying to lock several of the zombies in an area while they are trying to get at me through the bars. We had to do a ton of takes because I was too freaked out to get the lock closed! I did, finally get it! I laugh every time I see that scene in the film.
MV: This was your second time working with “HvZ” writer/director Brian Jaynes. How did you two first meet?
Frederic: A mutual friend and an awesome director and cinematographer in his own right, Samuel Haun, introduced us. I had moved to Tyler, TX for a dayjob and was looking for talented filmmakers in the area and met Sam. Sam hooked Brian and I up and after a lunch in Lindale, TX, Brian told me he had a role for me in his upcoming film “Boggy Creek”. I only worked two days on that film, but Brian must have liked what I did because he brought me back as a lead in “Humans Vs. Zombies”. Coincidentally, there is a novelization of “Boggy Creek” on the way from Eric S. Brown and I hear my character has a bigger role in the book.
Brian and I just wrapped another project where I played a supporting role and acted as his First Assistant Director, which was a huge learning curve for me. The film, “Patient Zero”, was made in Pittsburg, TX in some of the same locations where “Humans Vs. Zombies” was shot. While it shares some qualities with “HvZ”, it is definitely a much darker film.
MV: You are now collaborating once again with Brian on the fan-film “G.I. JOE: INITIATE”. Could you tell us a little about the KickStarter Campaign for this film?
Frederic: Having been a huge Joe fan growing up combined with the fact that I had a small role in “GI Joe: Rise of Cobra” has made me really attached to the GI Joe community. I even got to audition for a couple of roles in the upcoming sequel (which looks amazing). I’m also a big fan of Joe related comedy stuff like the Fensler PSAs, Action Figure Therapy and The Ballad of GI Joe. I guess I just decided I wasn’t done with GI JOE. So, after watching Mark Cheng’s “Operation Red Retrieval” on youtube, I decided that I could do that as well.
I put out feelers in a facebook post and was astounded at the reception I received. Brian volunteered to direct. A friend and writer, Anthony Schiavino (“Sergeant Zero”) stepped in to help me assemble the script. I got some amazingly talented friends like Bryan Massey, Billy Blair and Brandon Slagle to step into cast roles. I even got Samuel Haun to get in front of the camera on this one (he’s also a gifted actor…the punk). Not to mention real-life OEF/OIF veterans like Rusty Brooks, Michael Brown and Aaron Self. Michael Marcano rounds out our leads. It’s funny how many of these guys were on “Patient Zero”.
Our goal is to make a short series of videos for the web that captures some of the lighthearted magic of the original series and comics and combines it with a more tactical gritty approach with more realistic wardrobe, weapons and tactics. I think fans will be really pleased with our take on it. Our script has already turned some heads at popular Joe fansites like theterrordrome.com.
We just kicked off a kickstarter project to raise funds for necessities and some prop/wardrobe items. That combined with what we already have access to, will make this thing huge! Anything people can give to help us, even if it’s just a dollar, is truly appreciated.
MV: You have donned a lot of uniforms over the years with all of your different characters. You have portrayed cops, soldiers, sheriff deputies, and a corrections officer. What other types of uniforms do you secretly hope to wear one day?
Frederic: I’m always excited to do new stuff and while I love playing cop and military roles, I’ve also played an off-kilter shrink in the upcoming film “Devotion” and a love-struck backwoods junkyard owner in “Coyote County Loser”. I just enjoy being in front of the camera and making movie magic.
I’d love to eventually do something along the lines of “Aliens” or a superhero film. Rumor has it that I may be adding astronaut to my list of cinematic achievements coming soon, but more to come on that later.
MV: As a film actor living in Texas, with a very impressive resume including your first film “Transformers”, could you share what life has been like for you choosing to forgo the typical relocation to Hollywood?
Frederic: Unlike a lot of other people who decide to be actors and run off to Hollywood to pursue a career, I had been married for almost 10 years, had a little girl and was active duty Air Force when the real film bug first bit me. There are a multitude of reasons from finances, to not liking California’s restrictive laws on everything from firearms (I have several) and homeschooling (both my girls are educated at home).
I think it’s an incredibly exciting time in film history right now that the industry is being globalized. With the advent of digital filmmaking, casting via internet and state tax incentives for film, you don’t have to be in LA to get into film. It certainly helps, because that’s where a bulk of the studios are, but it’s not impossible like it once was. One day, I may make at least a partial transition out there, but not until something more concrete develops. I’m too old with too many responsibilities to be blindly chasing the dragon like that.
MV: Not only are you an actor/producer/first AD, but you are a writer as well. Have you given any thought to directing one of your own screenplays?
Frederic: I think I have the vision for it, but I am incredibly lacking in the technical knowledge. I think I would be in way over my head if I tried to direct anything right now. Eventually, I think it would be fun, but I’d hate to punish a crew and the viewers with my lack of experience at this point!
MV: What advice would you give aspiring actors and writers who are also based outside of Hollywood?
Frederic: Network. Always look for opportunities to add something to your resume, whether it’s a one day workshop or a stage play or a short film. Find an agent as soon as possible and always be professional. You have to treat this like a real job, because it is. Also, never believe that anyone else is going to do it for you. I’ve written quite bit about this over at my blog at fredericdoss.blogspot.com.
MV: You do realize that there will probably be a lot of kids playing ‘Security Guard Frank’ in their local HvZ games, right? That’s pretty cool. What was your favorite tag game to play when you were growing up?
Frederic: We used to just shoot each other with toy guns or beat the heck out of each other with sticks. That was always a blast! Our Director of Photography, Francois Frizat keeps telling me he’s going to make a Frank action-figure. I think once I have my own action-figure that will be hard to top.
MV: Thank you, Frederic. We will be rooting for Frank in this Friday’s television debut of “Humans vs. Zombies”.
Frederic: Wow, it’s this Friday already! ChillerTV is really making a huge deal out of this! I’ve seen the trailers and it’s so exciting how much love they are giving us. You can also pre-order the DVD at Amazon right now. It releases on DVD in May and there are big plans for that as well.
*Be sure to check your local listings for Chiller TV‘s premiere of “Humans vs. Zombies”. After watching the film hop up off the couch and start your own game (official HvZ rules can be found here). After that be sure to check out Frederic’s G.I. JOE: INITIATE (KickStarter campaign ends on March 12th – you can find additional information here).
Frederic Doss is also located at http://www.fredericdossonline.com
“I’m a hunter and I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to be the hunted”. ~ Frank