Meet the makers of the 'most epic teen zombie movie of all time'
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, July 5, 2016 2:31PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 6, 2016 10:18AM EDT
Rhode Island best friends Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt are ready for their closeup – and it’s going to be a bloody one.
Suchmann, 20, and Zufelt, 21, of Providence, R.I., are the co-creators and co-stars of “Spring Break Zombie Massacre,” a teen horror flick they have spent more than two years working on.
What started out as a project among the friends has snowballed into a 45-minute zombie movie, complete with professional camerawork, special effects and costumes any Oscar-winning director would be envious of.
Billed as the “most epic teen zombie movie of all time,” the film is set to make its debut screening in Providence on Thursday.
It’s an exciting moment for Zufelt and Suchmann, who both have Down syndrome and met at the Special Olympics 10 years ago.
Suchmann said he’s always been into movies, but when he saw a clip from a zombie movie, he was hooked. In 2013, while still in high school, he began writing the plot for his own.
“I was in my art class, I started drawing storyboards, I got Mattie involved,” Suchmann said in an interview with CTVNews.ca. Suchmann, who says Zufelt is more like a brother to him, soon started rallying to get other friends and family on board.
Suchmann’s brother Jesse says, when his sibling first came to him with a script, he didn’t take him too seriously, but eventually he “wore me down with his dedication to the project.”
Sam would say, “‘No, I’m serious Jesse, we’re making this movie,’” Jesse recalled. “There was no escaping it.”
Jesse spoke with some of his filmmaking friends, and found that they were thrilled to join the project.
A Kickstarter campaign was started to help raise funds and get the project off the ground. It ended up surpassing the $50,000 goal by a whopping $22,000.
Suchmann said he was “more than surprised” by the amount raised.
“I was overwhelmed,” he said. “I never thought something like this would happen.”
The crew also caught a big break when equipment rental company Panavision donated professional-grade cameras to the project. Pauly D, an American DJ who is best known for his role on the reality TV series “Jersey Shore,” also got on board, and appears in a scene.
“Slowly but surely everything came together,” said Bobby Carnevale, the movie’s director.
Suchmann’s brother Jesse says the film is a testament to his brother and Zufelt’s tenacity and determination. He says the film is special, not in spite of Suchmann and Zufelt’s genetic disorder, but because of it.
“The truth is, they had this vision and creativity almost because they see things differently,” Jesse said, adding they brought an “unfiltered perspective” to the project.
“These guys have something really unique to offer.”
Days before the movie premiere, Jesse said his brother and Zufelt are already local celebrities, getting stopped on the street for autographs. Film festivals are already showing interest in screening the movie.
Zufelt, who lives in Bristol, said working with the cast and crew was “really, really awesome and exciting and inspiring.”
While he wants to focus on his career as a DJ, Zufelt said he and Suchmann have their sights set on a sequel.
In the meantime, Suchmann is also looking forward to the perks of stardom.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “Hopefully the girls will chase us out of the theatre.”
And Thursday’s screening is likely going to be just the beginning for Suchmann and Zufelt, who both eventually want to live and work in Hollywood.
Jesse said he has no doubt that the friends will live out their dreams.
“They’re ready to keep it going.”