Meet Emily, a new filmmaker who's trying to get her first feature length zombie movie off the ground. Watch as Emily goes through everything from pre-production to the world premiere of her movie and all the struggles that comes along with making your own movie. Oh and by the way, Emily is only 12 years old.
What were you doing when you were 12 years old? Were you just hanging out, playing Nintendo? Maybe you were a little more active and playing sports or going to dance class. Perhaps you were busy realizing the opposite sex doesn't actually have coodies. Whatever it was, something tells me you weren't trying to make your own feature length zombie movie. "Zombie Girl: The Movie" is a documentary that focuses on Emily Hagins, a young girl in Austin (Texas) who is trying to get her first feature length zombie movie made with the restriction of only being 12.
Actually, Emily wrote the script for her feature length movie, "Pathogen", at 10 and made it at 12. The documentary itself is being shot during the production of "Pathogen" but like any good story we have to have a beginning. Emily's beginning is attending a film festival for a chance to meet Peter Jackson due to her love for the "Lord of the Rings" movies but what she walked away with was the love for the living-dead after she saw the Australian movie "Undead". Kind of funny when you think about it; a number of people and media outlets are trying to convince the masses that horror movies are dangerous and can damage a persons psyche, especially that of a young person. Here, a goopy-gory zombie flick actually made a young girl decide that she was going to make her own movie. Doesn't sound all that damaging to me.
"Zombie Girl: The Movie" is more than a documentary, it’s like an in-depth feature length making-of featurette. It covers everything from the pre-production of "Pathogen" to it's world premiere at the famous Alamo Drafthouse and all the troubles that come with making a low-budget independent movie. The movies main focus on Emily and how unique she is helps make the movie stand out amongst other documentaries about filmmakers. When you watch "Zombie Girl" it's actually hard to believe that Emily is the age she is because she acts much older than she is and treats this project very seriously. She does everything from holding casting calls, to scheduling filming dates, planning out shots, storyboarding, etc. Even at my current age I know I don't have it in me to have that kind of drive and what it takes to make a movie. To see someone so young be so ambitious and be as mature about it as Emily, it's really quite an amazing site. She's quite interesting as well; watching her interact with her friends, family, and in the interviews she comes off as just a shy and quite kid who likes movies. Once everyone is in their place and shooting is about to start, she has no problem taking the commanding lead and is trying to get a movie made. This also brings about some conflicts between Emily and her parents, which can be both funny and intense and helps remind you how old Emily actually is.
As impressive as it is to watch Emily make her movie I think the heart of the documentary is watching the relationship between Emily and her mother, Megan Hagins, who happens to be the all-in-one crew member for Emily. Like any good parent Megan wants to help her daughter to succeed anyway she can, which means picking up the boom mic, being a chaperone, make-up artist, SPFX artist, buying props, wardrobe. You name it, Megan does it. Naturally working with family brings its up's and down's with it and even though they have their parent-child spats. Megan is still there helping her daughter every step of the way even though she has a full time job. Not to discredit Emily's father, as he is there to help too but Megan goes above and beyond what you think a parent would do for their child who is trying to make a movie at the age of 12.
Trying to think of ways to describe what it's like watching "Zombie Girl" there is only one word that kept coming to my mind and that is fascinating, which it really is. It is fascinating to see someone as young as Emily act as mature as she is about making a movie and to be so ambitious at that age. Especially since you wouldn't expect someone like Emily to make a movie about the undead and have it be a feature length movie no less. Another thing that makes it great and fascinating is to see how willing and supportive her parents are of this project, particularly in this day in age where it seems like most parents leave it to the world to raise their child. While it's not the purpose of "Zombie Girl", it manages to say a lot about the relationship between parents and their children, and the importance of parents taking an interest in their kids’ lives and what they do.
I was interested in "Zombie Girl: The Movie" because I wanted to know the story and see how a 12 year old managed to get involved in making a feature length zombie movie. What I'm surprised about was how much a thoroughly enjoyed the documentary over all. You can't help but enjoy the story of watching a young gal succeed at accomplishing her goal and her dream at a her age and seeing everyone coming together to help her. In particular, it was great to see so many adults from the filmmaking community actually help out Emily. Not to sound like a sappy bastard, but it was honestly sweet seeing the relationship between Emily and her mother, and then it was amazing watching Emily make her movie. R-Squared is releasing the DVD for "Zombie Girl: The Movie" on November 9th, and I strongly recommend folks to pick it up or demand for it from Netflix. It's a very inspiring documentary and a great one to have if you know of any kids, whether they're your own or just family, and they are interested in movies. R-Squared also includes "Pathogen" on the DVD, so you'll actually get to see first hand the results of Emily's work.