Zombies and Nerds

"Ruben Fleischer began laying the groundwork for his film making career while working as an assistant for Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl).
Jake Gyllenhaal as Holden in "The Good Girl" (2002) - Jack Fields Is The Enemy (Deleted Scene).

Mike White as Corny in "The Good Girl" (2002).Mike White in "Zombieland" (2009).

While Fleischer may have not set out to become a director initially, there is little doubt that he made a huge impact on the cinematic landscape in 2009. His directorial debut, Zombieland featured Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as survivors in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by flesh-eating zombies. Jesse Eisenberg, Ruben Fleischer, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson at L.A. "Zombieland" premiere on 23rd September 2009.

Two men have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss but when you're afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-totin, zombie-slayin badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.

-Who were some of the influences that you looked to as you came into the industry?

-When I started directing my own stuff, the path I took was doing music videos, so Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Jonathan Glazer and Mark Romanek were my music video influences. Once I started doing more narrative stuff and doing comedy, I would say my influences were more along the lines of the classic 80s movies directors that I grew up on like John Hughes, John Landis, Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis. They were big influences.

Neil LaBute moderates a Directors Close Up panel of comedy writers and directors. In this clip he discusses comedy directing with Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and the Opposite of Sex director Don Roos.
-What was it about ‘Zombieland’ that jumped out at you and made you want to tackle this as your first feature film?

-Honestly, at first I wasn’t too sure about the zombie component of the movie, because growing up, I wasn’t a huge zombie fan. I wasn’t a huge genre fan but I just loved the characters and I loved the comedy. They felt very real and they were guys that I wanted to go on a journey with. It is really about their relationship, the kinda ‘Odd Couple’, buddy comedy aspect of it that I was most excited to explore.
-You mention the mix of comedy and horror. Was it difficult to find the right combination of actors to pull those elements off?-Well, as scripted, the characters were very different on the page. It was definitely that classic dynamic between “tough guy” and “nerdy guy”. Woody Harrelson was my first choice and he is who I went after for the part. When he agreed to do it, and I honestly can’t think of anyone better who could have done it, we did a pretty thorough series of casting to find Jesse (Eisenberg). He was a leading candidate but we did read three people opposite of Woody. Jesse seemed closest to the person on the page that we had all kinda fallen in love with.
-One of the biggest on-screen surprises for your film or any film in 2009 was the appearance from Bill Murray. How did that come about?
-That was purely Woody pulling a favor at the last minute. We had originally scripted the part for other people but they had fallen through, so we were kinda scrambling the week before shooting. Woody offered to make the call to his buddy, Bill. Honestly, their couldn’t have been anyone better or more exciting for that role. It really took the movie to a whole different level and it is part of what makes it so special.
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee crying in a scene from "Zombieland".

-What is the status of the sequel, ‘Zombieland 2′?

-We have been talking to the studio and we pitched them some ideas that they seemed to really like. We are definitely doing the film in 3D. Sony has their own 3D division now and we are going to go get a little tour of that on Tuesday (3/2/2010), of the 3D department. I know that the cast are all excited to be a part of the sequel, so it should be a great, fun movie to make! The script is about to be written and hopefully we will shoot it sometime towards the end of the year or early next year.
Emma Stone as Wichita playing golf in Bill Murray's mansion in "Zombieland".

-Did you have any reservations about doing a sequel?

-I didn’t because the movie was originally conceived as a television show, so it was kinda always meant to lead to another episode. There was no finality to the characters or the world in the original concept, so it’s not like we are stretching it. That’s why ‘Zombie Kill of The Week’ is ‘Zombie Kill of The Week’, because that is the kill of the week and next week there will be another one. That’s why I don’t feel that we are being oporrtunistic or too exploitative of the success of the first film. I feel that this is the way it was always intended to be.
-Will you be shooting with 3D cameras or is that something you are more likely to handle in post-production?

-Nothing has been determined yet but just from the little that I know about 3D, I would greatly prefer to shoot it in 3D.

RUBEN FLEISCHER - Zombieland FantasticFest 2009 Red Carpet.

-You are getting to the point in your career where you can look back and see some pretty big milestones. Large or small, what has been the most exciting thing for you so far?

-Some of my greatest memories from the past year, beyond making ‘Zombieland’, are getting to watch it with an audience in theaters. Hearing the laughs from the audience was an incredible experience, particularly because as a commercial director, you don’t typically get to watch your stuff with people. It is usually just on TV or on internet. It was really exciting to get to hear the public feedback. The movie gets a lot of laughs, so it was really fun. Then, there are some of the people who I have had the opportunity to meet through the film’s recognition. I got to meet Ivan Reitman, John Landis and some other people that I really have been a big fan of, so getting to talk shop with them has been pretty neat".
Source: www.iconvsicon.com

"Miguel Arteta, the film-maker who gave us Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl, directs Cera in a fantasy teen comedy which is in bad taste, and often very funny. Cera plays Nick Twisp, sensitive soul, teenage virgin, callow Sinatra-on-vinyl fan and habitual masturbator. His father (Steve Buscemi) has quit the household, and now co-habits with a twentysomething girlfriend, leaving Nick alone with his mother Estelle (Jean Smart) and her noisome new trucker boyfriend Jerry (Zach Galifianakis).
Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday.

It is a potentially cheesy and over- familiar comic idea. But the Mr Hyde figure that Nick invents is weirdly plausible. With orangey contact lenses, he has an unnerving robotic glare; his moustache and side-parting add to the sinister look. There is a "teen fiction" feel to Nick's bizarre life: he is like a very nerdified Harry Potter or Alex Rider, and his life experiences, though not involving magic or spying, are just as far-fetched – and a lot more amusing. It is very silly, and it may take you some time to tune in to the giggle wavelength. Once you have, it's very funny".
Source: www.guardian.co.uk