How did you first get involved in the movie? I've read
it was intended to be a TV show.
They had it over at CBS television, I think. It was originally a
traditional pilot and then they extended it to be a TV movie, which
they were trying to do as a backdoor pilot to launch the series.
But when they budgeted it out, it was beyond affordable for
television and the producer thought the script was too good for
television, so he took it to Sony, where he did four or five
movies, and set it up as a feature film there. And then they went
through the traditional process of trying to find a director, where
they meet with a bunch of different people and somehow I talked my
way into it.
Has that always been your goal, to make movies? Have you
been trying to make one for a while now?
Yeah. I started out as an assistant to a director on two movies,
Miguel Arteta. The movies I worked on were Chuck and Buck
and The Good Girl. I didn't even know I wanted to be a
director until I started working with Miguel. I just needed a job
and it just turned out I really liked being on set and he was a
great mentor. When I started trying to become a director, I started
shooting low budget short films, 50-dollar music videos, making my
own stuff. That eventually led to commercials. The goal I guess was
ultimately to do a feature, but I wasn't in a position to do
features, and since I wasn't a writer, I wasn't going to write my
own movie that I was going to try and make, so I had to just keep
working until I could realistically be considered for a film.
Did you have an agent?
Yeah, I had an agent and a while ago I was attached to direct
this other movie at Paramount called Psycho Funky Chimp,
which was a really funny, funny script, but Paramount basically
just decided they were never going to make it so I had to start
looking for other opportunities and I read Zombieland and
loved it and went very aggressively after it. I had a series of
interviews, starting with a junior level executive at the studio,
then you meet the producer, then somebody higher at the studio with
the producer and that ended with a meeting with the Chairwoman of
Sony Pictures Entertainment. You kind of just pitch your vision for
the movie and talk about what you'd change on the script and what
you'd do to make it great.
What do you think locked you in? I read an L.A.
Times interview and you talked about having an actual ending
for the film.
That's pretty much what it was. Because it was a TV show, it
didn't conclude in a very satisfying way. It was naturally meant to
lead to the second episode. So basically I pitched the idea of
having it go to an amusement park as the place the little kid
character wants to go, which would give it a destination for the
movie to have, and I also knew it would be a really cool place to
have a giant zombie battle.
Where did you shoot the film?
We shot the movie in Georgia, for the most part in Atlanta, and
we shot for two and a half weeks at that amusement park called Wild
Was this the movie you pictured to do your first
feature? What was your thinking going into it?
I definitely never intended to do a zombie movie. I've always
loved comedy, but I never would have thought to do a zombie movie.
I'm not a horror guy and that's not really my taste, per se, so I
was really excited to get to do something that allowed me so much
opportunity as far as the action, the horror component. It was a
much more dynamic film than your straightforward commercial