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Archive for February 1st, 2011

Hollywood Fantasy Draft II: Z

 Its finally here, having missed out on the original Fantasy Movie draft last year I was keen to get involved with this second edition. Hosted by Castor over at Anomalous Material each participant took it in terns to draft actors and directors for their fantasy projects. We all then set to work on our pitches choosing to either create their own story, adapt a book or remake an existing movie. Click HERE to see all the movies that have been pitched so far over at Anomalous Material. Whilst it would be tempting to pick all my favourite actors I decided to take a different angle and make a B movie with a eclectic cast, and here it is:

 

 

Title: Z

Genre: Horror

Tagline: Under Siege meets Dawn of the Dead

Logline: For a group of survivors of a zombie holocaust an overcrowded ocean liner appears to be their last hope for survival, but they are about to discover there are more dangerous things than zombies. From Neil Marshall, the director of Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday comes the best zombie movie since 28 Days Later.

Background

An infection that turns people into zombie like creatures has decimated the populations of Europe, Asia and North America. South America and Africa are largely unaffected due to strict quarantine, the tropical climate and a shoot first policy. Unfortunately these places are no safer as they are ravaged by civil wars and invasions from American and European governments. The one place that remains unaffected is a small area that includes Australia, Japan and a group of islands around the Pacific Rim. This area is controlled not by a government but a group of large corporations. One of these corporations has acquired a fleet of cruise ships and ocean liners that they use to transport survivors to safety in Australia. This is the only way to travel between continents as all planes have been grounded after a few “outbreak at thirty thousand feet” disasters. The infection is passed via bodily fluid and travels through the body very quickly, after a bite a person will experience flu like symptoms within a few hours, appear to die after a day before being resurrected as a zombie shortly after. Once infected there is no known cure although a small number of people appear to be immune. Once turned the zombies will kill and eat anyone they can get their hands on. Viewers will draw their own conclusions about any themes of subtexts, the more obvious and overt of them will involve mass globalization with corporations having more power than governments, the treatment and exploitation of developing countries by developed countries, and a profit led attitude to healthcare and medicine.

Act One

An ocean liner that has been stripped of all its luxury and filled with bunks is at sea on route to western Australia containing 10,000 infection free people looking to start a new life. The ship is crowded, water and food are in short supply and people are scared. As too many people are squeezed into a small space unrest and fighting often breaks out. The slightest sign of a cough or cold and a panic is caused by people paranoid about infection. We see all this from the point of view of two mechanics Jack (Colin Farrell) and Charley (Sarah Polley) who both work onboard the ship. Just after dark they are on their way back to their quarters when we discover zombies aren’t the only peril at sea as they are attacked by a group of modern day pirates equipped with speedboats and automatic weapons. Well prepared for the attack, the ships crew break out their own weapons and are able to fight off and defeat the pirates. Some of the pirates are captures alive and are quickly executed by the mysterious Mr Smith (Mark Strong) who appears even the captain answers to. Before she is killed, one of the pirates (Monica Bellucci) reveals the companies secret, the passengers aren’t heading for the new life they thought they were.

Act Two

Jack helps Charley to break into an office so she can investigates the pirates allegation. They discover the secret the company don’t want getting out, the ship isn’t the only one heading for Australia, some of the others have already arrived and the passengers, far from starting a new life are put in internment camps, some are experimented on in an attempt to find both a cure a weaponized form of the virus. As word starts to spread fights break out between people who believe the rumours and those who don’t. Things are further complicated when a few of the passengers start showing Z virus symptoms. As larger numbers of the passengers and crew star turning into zombies the situation becomes harder to control. In an effort to contain the situation the captain under orders of Mr Smith locks off parts of the ship and posts armed guards effectively making the passengers prisoners. Many innocent people are exposed to the infected making the problem worse. At the same time Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Flynn (Jamie Bell) are trying to find Julio’s girlfriend Carolyn (Melissa George) who went missing after she was bit but showed no sign of infection. They discover Smith is holding her so she can be handed over to the companies research scientists on arrival.

Act Three

A small group of survivors; lead by Jack and Julio attempt to take over the bridge, and with it the ship, they all have their own agenda, Jack wants to save all the passengers Julio is only thinking about Carolyn. A fierce gun battle breaks out. Smith and his men find themselves fighting on two fronts as an increasing numbers of zombies are attracted by the commotion. The mutineers are also in danger of being overwhelmed by the zombies and are forced to retreat. As they regroup it soon becomes clear that the ship is doomed and they need to make a new plan. Gathering together as many survivors as they can, the group to into have to navigate their way through the infected to get to the lifeboats and tenders, along the way they have to divert the zombies towards the bridge to create a distraction big enough to aid their escape. As the escaping passengers face an uncertain future the ones Smith and his closest men abandon by helicopter but he is hiding his own secret, he was bitten by a zombie in the attack.

Characters:

Jack – Colin Farrell – Of all the characters in the movie he has the greatest story arc. He was kicked out of the army in his mid twenties and failed to keep any job for long because of his short temper and lack of respect for authority. Working as a mechanic onboard the ship the movie is told from his point of view, he demonstrates how a bad situation can bring out the best in some people and with it give hope for humanity.

Charley – Sarah Polley – Jack’s conscience and sense of right and wrong representing the human spirit.

Carolyn – Melissa George – A girl who is bitten by a zombie but shows no sign of infection, a further demonstration of hope for the survival of humanity.

Smith – Mark Strong – Mr Smith (real name unknown) works for the company. No one really knows who he is or what he does but everyone including the ships captain answer to him. He is a cold and calculating man but has a short temper. He will kill without a thought but would rather not get his hands dirty. He always dresses in tailored suits and hand made shoes. The opposite to Jack, the situation has bought out the worst in Smith, a demonstration of how power corrupts.

Akiko – Yumiko Shaku – Akiko says very little, she takes a perverse pleasure from killing, something she does extremely well. She carries an uchigatana and a wakizashi but is just as happy using a gun. A sociopath and the polar opposite of Charley.

Flynn – Jamie Bell – A young soldier, now working for the company as onboard security. He changes sides and helps the passengers after witnessing Akiko killing a passenger.

Julio – Gael García Bernal – Carolyn’s boyfriend, he will stop at nothing to get her back and in the process unwittingly becomes a leader of the mutiny.

Ships Captain – Alan Dale – An honest but week man who turns a blind eye to the company thinking one man can’t make a difference. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Lisa – Monica Bellucci – The pirate who tells Carolyn what the companies plans for the passengers is. Her back-story and how she knows about “The Company” is not revealed in the movie only implied. She and the other pirates had escaped from a previous ship they now live at sea safe from infection and survive by highjack passing ships for fuel and food.

Production notes:

The movie will be made on a relatively modest budget, somewhere in the region of $20million. Most of it can be shot on a soundstage. A real ocean liner like The Queen Mary II would be needed for pickup shots. The shots, on deck shots can be achieved by the use of a permanently docked ship such as the original Queen Mary or the QE2. CGI will be kept to a minimum with zombie effects and blood achieved through makeup.

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