D.C. Douglas, Maryse Ouellet Mizanin and Joey Lawrence Battle Zombies on Syfy’s “Isle of the Dead’
I thought it’d be cool if we could come up with a zombie film that tipped it’s hat to the “Resident Evil” video games.
From the producers of “Z Nation” comes a new zombie thriller directed by Nick Lyon, “Isle of the Dead,” premiering August 18 on Syfy. The film stars D.C. Douglas (Resident Evil), Maryse Ouellet Mizanin (WWE Diva) and Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey).
The story begins ten years ago, when an Army research post on a remote tropical island was decimated by a strange new virus. Now, a team of SEALS on a recon mission has gone missing on the island. When a Strike Team arrives to rescue them, they must deal with an onslaught of zombies. As they fight their way to the old lab facility, they realize that the Colonel in charge of the research station (D.C. Douglas) is still alive and still experimenting—the zombies are his creations, and every new wave the team faces is more vicious and ghastly than the one before.
“Isle of the Dead” began as a collaboration between actor D.C. Douglas and the creative team behind “Alpha House.” Douglas explains, “while working on an Asylum comedy with Jacob Cooney and Brandon Trenz, I discovered that their real passion was zombie films! I told them I thought it’d be cool if we could come up with a zombie film that tipped it’s hat to the “Resident Evil” video games. They loved it and so I went to the producers at Asylum and essentially begged. To my delight they green lit the idea and off we went.”
Douglas garnered a fervent fanbase from his voice over portrayal of Albert Wesker in the “Resident Evil” video game franchise. Adding to his zombie appeal is his recurring role as Pa Kettle on the Syfy hit series, “Z Nation.”
Maryse Ouellet Mizanin debuts in her first lead film role as CIA operative Mikaela Usylvich. “It was amazing, ” says Mizanin, “I was very excited about making the film but also very nervous because having a lead role is no joke! Even though I have been working in live TV with WWE for a long time and I have been performing in front of live audiences, I was still super nervous! … It’s crazy to think that 7 years ago I couldn’t speak english, and now I’m in a movie as the lead character. It’s definitely a dream come true!”
“I think fans of Joey Lawrence will be the most surprised,” says Douglas, “since the hard as nails Lt. Paul Gibson is a far cry from his usually wholesome characters.” Lawrence is well known for his long running roles on “Blossom,” “Brotherly Love” and “Melissa & Joey.”
“Isle of the Dead” premiers Thursday, August 18 at 8 pm PT on the Syfy network. The cast and crew will also be live tweeting the premier using the hashtag #IsleOfTheDead.
Starring: D.C. Douglas, Joey Lawrence, Maryse Ouellet Mizanin, Todd Cattell
Produced by: David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Paul Bales
Directed by: Nick Lyon
Written by: Jacob Cooney and Brandon Trenz
Cinematography by: Laura Beth Love
[The following interviews may be reprinted in whole or part.]
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D.C. DOUGLAS (Col. Aiden Wexler) INTERVIEW
Q: How did Isle come about?
DC: Well, I have been wanting to get into more zombie genre related projects because I have such an amazing and loyal zombie fanbase. I have been voicing the role of Albert Wesker in the “Resident Evil” video game franchise since 2007 (about 7 games) and those fans are so supportive and cool.
So, while working on an Asylum comedy with Jacob Cooney and Brandon Trenz, I discovered that their real passion was zombie films! I told them I thought it’d be cool if we could come up with a zombie film that tipped it’s hat to the “Resident Evil” video games. They loved it and so I went to the producers at Asylum and essentially begged. To my delight they green lit the idea and off we went.
Q: So did your role on their Syfy hit “Z Nation” come up before all of this?
DC: Actually, they thought of putting me in “Z Nation” during that pitch meeting once they saw I had a small but passionate fanbase. They cast me as Pa Kettle. I actually just finished two more episodes last week. They have been great about feeding my zombie hunger!
Q: What was it like working with the cast?
DC: Absolutely a treat. Joey was kind and professional, yet always throwing in some fancy dance moves between takes. And Maryse is the sweetest! So very open and giving as an actress. And she has a great attitude and sense of humor. This was her first lead role and she tackled it with the same conviction she does her with her opponents in the ring. Did I mention she’s gorgeous?
Q: Any interesting anecdotes from the set?
DC: Well, it was a bit of a blur since the budget had been cut and our shooting schedule reduced. We moved through it all so fast. But I will never forget the smell of our main location – a sewage treatment facility! Yup, we were surrounded by pipes pushing poop all around us all day… Yummy.
There is one other funny thing. I tend to get hives and idiopathic angioedema (swollen lips) from huge stress. Well, after 8 days in a row I had a day off. That’s when I relaxed and got hit with a huge fat lip! I was so pissed but then I realized my last day was just me as a zombie! Then I thought, “That’s right. I just added to the zombie make-up, baby!”
Q: Will fans see any Albert Wesker in Aiden Wexler?
DC: Well, not as a character, per se. Except he does have an ego issue and may be a little mentally unstable. Though, I made sure to throw in a few easter eggs in my dialogue… And, of course, there are several plot aspects that are a wink to “Resident Evil 5.” I hope they all get a kick out of it!
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MARYSE OUTLET MIZANIN (Mikaela Usylvich) INTERVIEW
Q: This was your first lead role in a film, how was the experience?
MARYSE: It was amazing, I was very excited about making the film but also very nervous because having a lead role is no joke! Even though I have been working live TV with WWE for a long time and I have been performing in front of live audiences, i was still super nervous! It’s very different to be on a movie set! I love it!! It’s crazy to think that 7 years ago I couldn’t speak english, and now I’m in a movie as the lead character! It’s definitely a dream come true!
Q: You worked with Asylum before on a Sharknado film! How was this shoot different?
MARYSE: Filming Sharknado was fun but totally different, I had one scene in Sharknado and I am in almost every scene in Isle Of The Dead!
Q: Any interesting anecdotes to share about filming Isle?
MARYSE: The tunnels were really scary at times, very dark and the heat was a killer, and I think i still have dirt in my hair – so much fighting in the jungles!
Q: Were you able to include any of your bad-ass signature moves in the fight sequences?
MARYSE: I love fight scenes, I got to hit my french kiss DDT in the movie, its my most powerful finisher in WWE!
Q: We know your fans love seeing you in anything, but do you think Isle will appeal to them for other reasons, as well?
MARYSE: My fans know me as WWE Maryse, so it’s going to be fun for them to see me as Mikaela Usylvich – a military train CIA agent that specializes in Virus and bio-weapons!
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JACOB COONEY & BRANDON TRENZ (Writers) INTERVIEW
JC: Oh man… I think Brandon and I have been tossing ideas down on paper together for almost 10 years.
Q: How did Isle of the Dead come about?
BT: I had the germ of an idea knocking around the back of my head for a while: a group of people deliberately drop themselves into an island infested with zombies. I liked the idea of people going into that situation fully prepared, then getting their asses kicked anyway. It was barely a premise – one of those concepts that needed a catalyst to turn it into an actual story.
JC: Brandon and I co-wrote a college comedy titled “Alpha House”, which starred DC Douglas. We all got along really well on set and found that we all had a love for zombies and horror films. Since DC was the voice of Albert Wesker in the “Resident Evil” video games, we decided it would be an awesome idea to put together some ideas for some zombie films and pitch them to The Asylum… the production company that produced “Alpha House”.
BT: DC pointed out to us that “Resident Evil” fans would often tell him how they wanted a good, suspenseful horror zombie movie … ideally starring him. He brought to the story-breaking process a fantastic amount of insight into what fans of the zombie genre were hungry for.
JC: A few weeks after that spark hit, we had some ideas that we felt would stoke the flames of the “Resident Evil” fan base, pitched them and ended up getting the go ahead to move forward with developing “Isle of the Dead”. A few treatment drafts later we were writing the script, and ultimately shooting the film. Overall, the entire process from pitching the idea, to writing, to shooting, and to the upcoming premiere on Thursday was pretty fast…
Q: Any interesting anecdotes to share about the process of writing Isle?
JC: Hmm… Well, Brandon and I bounced the drafts back and forth a lot as we don’t live in the same city — I live in Greenwich, CT and Brandon lives in Detroit, MI. We’ve been writing material this way for years, so it’s a pretty normal process for us.
BT: Writing an Asylum movie is always interesting, because their productions move so fast!
JC: We did have a great time talking with DC about the “Resident Evil” universe and the fans. We really wanted to create a film that they would like.
Q: What kind of audience were you writing Isle for?
JC: Horror fans, zombie fans, and most importantly “Resident Evil” fans.
BT: Jake and I have kind of a twisted sense of humor. Several bits of “Isle of the Dead” made us laugh like crazy. We hope the audience does, too.
Q: Thoughts on the finished film?
JC: I think the film is a really fun romp that “Resident Evil” and horror fans will enjoy.
BT: As Joey Lawrence himself might say, “Whoa!”
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NICK LYON (Director) INTERVIEW
Q: Is this your first film with The Asylum?
NICK: This is actually one of many for Asylum that I have directed since “Zombie Apocalypse,” which then became “Z Nation.” They know low budget like no others, and are a great place to hone my skills. I love the guys at Asylum.
Q: How long was the shoot? What were some of the challenges filming it?
NICK: The shoot was a mere 12 days. or was it 11? It felt like 10…. the budget was super shoestring and we had too much to do every single day. The challenges aside from a short shooting schedule and limited time…well, no money…Otherwise it was a really fun and creative shoot and I think we have a very entertaining film.
Q: Any interesting anecdotes to share about the process of directing Isle?
NICK: I guess would be that we shot half the film at a water reclamation facility known as the Poo Factory. Unfortunately, one morning about 5 of our crew members ended up dry heaving from the smell and one actually vomited. Luckily the actors, especially those who were more sensitive, were able to get through it. I personally didn’t mind it after a few hours, you just get used to it.
Q: How did you get such a cool look and film all those action sequences with such a short shooting schedule?
NICK: It was great to work with the Laura Beth Love (director of photography) who shot the film. We wanted to have a look that was moody, but fast to shoot. So we went small with the package and high with atmosphere. I have a system and directing methodology that I use and I know what I need to achieve, so I maximize the time and coverage to get a look and that also allows me to freely cut as I want to. It also helps to have a solid cast who know how to step on set and deliver. Otherwise, its about lensing angle selection, location selection, blocking and a gut feeling.
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