“Dead Season” writer/producer/editor Loren Semmens originally wasn’t going to a write a zombie film when he and “Dead Season” director Adam Deyoe were searching for a place to shoot a completely different film. But the two happened upon the right spot at the right time.
“Adam and I traveled to Vieques [part of Puerto Rico], which is the island where we did principal photography. Our goal was to location scout for a different film we were in the process of writing, which was actually a buddy comedy. And when we got Vieques, we realized that these declassified military [sites and chemicals] were the perfect backdrop for something more horror related,” he said. “Lucky for us, a new mayor had been elected, which who had loosened their stance on allowing production to shoot on the island. So we were one of the first features to take advantage of shooting there.”
For Semmens and Deyoe, scoping out Vieques “was like a perfect opportunity. It was the movie we had been wanting to make for a while, and the location, it just worked out really well.”
The daunting task of switching from films was making sure everything was in place. “We did all of pre-production in three weeks, which is just insanity. I would never recommend it ever. But pressure makes diamonds,” said Semmens.
Also, filming in Vieques was daunting, according to Semmens, who said it was unlike shooting in Los Angeles. “It’s such a remote place that we didn’t have any kind of technical support if any of the equipment broke,” he said. “Getting capable crew members was very difficult and just the environment was very difficult.”
But all of the toil has paid off in the form of a film that’s just as entertaining as it is thrilling. Semmens said he and Deyoe wanted to show that “it’s possible to make a genre, particularly a zombie one, where it’s not a complete slaughter fest.”
“Our goal is to have all the fun—good kills and gore stuff—but to try and incorporate a little bit more of a story and characters that you as a viewer would want to follow and to see how their relationships work out, not just [focusing on] dead people,” he said.
As to why so many people are intrigued by zombie films, Semmens has a theory. “I think, in general, we as a society are just obsessed with post-apocalyptic style of events. I think those types of scenarios hit home with us because it’s a primal level of survival. It’s like your real instincts kick in as opposed to surfing the web or watching TV.”
You can test his theory by watching “Dead Season,” which will be released on DVD tomorrow.