At last, a select audience finally will be able to see what I and so many others have been going on about when Zombie Girl: The Movie, premieres at Fantastic Fest in Austin today (4:30 PM Texas time).
Congratulations must go to Zombie Girl filmmakers Erik Mauck, Justin Johnson and Aaron Marshall, with an extra tilt of the cap to the latter for paring down some 147 hours of footage into a taut 91-minute feature.
As I’m now finishing up the Handbook chapter about Emily and the Zombie Girl crew, I’m reluctant to steal its thunder by going into this all in any kind of detail.
However, having had the opportunity to see this work twice now, I must say I have a new appreciation for the craft of the documentary maker. As Marshall told me, “It’s not a narrative movie, so if something wasn’t captured right, you couldn’t just go and do another take. It was a matter of finding ways of pulling the story out of what we had to work with.”
If Zombie Girl succeeds (individual tastes will vary, of course), it does so primarily because the Hagins family and the small universe of people who orbit it in this documentary are so engaging. Yet, the documentary makers also have succeeded in doing something extremely rare in today’s everyone’s-a-media-star world: they remind us how noble it is to chase a dream, and just what joy still remains in the process of creation.
There are ups and downs to be sure — Emily’s the first person to tell you that things haven’t always gone according to plan during the making of Pathogen, and more recently, The Retelling. But after seeing this movie, I dusted off my own video camera for the first time in a year. I don’t think I can pay this film, or Emily’s own work, any higher compliment than that.