Your Story: Why Zombies Matter

It’s pretty crazy how much zombies have taken off in the last few years as cultural touchstones. From the Walking Dead to World War Z, a lot of production dollars have been pointed at this undead mythology. Perhaps its because zombies have come to represent the darkest parts of our nightmares, have successfully gnawed away at the lightness of our being, have us looking over our shoulders while unlocking cars at midnight. Or maybe it’s because they remind us of ex-boyfriends, old bosses, people ahead of us in the supermarket lines counting coupons, or better yet dishonest bankers milking the American populace. Zombies are never as far away as we hope them to be.

Since we’re getting ready to release our own zombie piece into the lexicon, I’ve been thinking alot about them in the context of ‘Story’. Zombies as a metaphor for conflict. For most of our projects rise or fall in how well we can communicate conflict (a problem) and then offer up a solution. Whether it’s blowing the heads of the reanimated or showing how lives are saved at Overlake Hospital , any good story needs that element of uncertainty and shadow. The lurching, persistent, slow march of life’s challenges. And hordes of zombies seem to me to be the perfect symbol for that.

So no matter how small the project, or how ‘feel-good’ it’s supposed to be, we always try to find the Zombie in it. This zombie may not have a large role, and in fact may never appear at all. But if we don’t know what forces we’re fighting, what equity we’re trying to restore, or problem we’re trying to solve, then the Story will be flat. Lifeless. All blood gone.

And who wants that?

So we’ll continue to take arms against those things that go bump in the night. We’ll sharpen our pens to stave off the animated corpses dressed like old friends. For though the scary parts never really do die completely, we can at least swing a few axes, turn it up to 11, and maybe help save the world. What else is there?


Author: Chris Donaldson

Chris Donaldson is Executive Producer at HCFmedia. Can film making change the world? The Short Answer: Yes.