Making a documentary is a true test of a filmmaker’s stamina. After shooting hundreds to thousands of hours of footage, you have to hope you’ve caught enough interesting moments to string together a compelling story. Now try doing that on a time crunch because the subject you are covering is time sensitive. Oh and there are zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
That is exactly what Joone Studios and Zombie Army Productions are doing with their reality-based web series Days of the Living Dead. The show follows a rag tag group of renegade actors, artists, technical directors and filmmakers working together to produce one of the largest and most heralded haunted houses in the country, Statesville Haunted Prison. If you’ve ever wanted to know what Hunter S. Thompson looks like as a zombie, wanted to watch people play a game involving kicking around severed heads, or wondered at the proclivities of lesbian zombies then this is definitely the show for you.
We had a chance to catch up with Jayme Joyce, half of the two-woman team (with director Jessica Christopher) behind Joone Studios. Joyce also shoots and edits the project. She had this to say about how this unique series came about: “I met John LaFlamboy in 2006 on his first music video for a local band 20 spot. Two months later we were doing a feature together called Squeal and later that summer a trailer for his haunted house feature epic, Haunted House the Movie. John and I share a very strong commitment to stay in Chicago and build a film community here and have collaborated quite a bit. But John also runs one of the hugest haunted houses in the country, Statesville. So for a few months out of the year he drops out of the film scene and does ‘that’. He’s tried several times to do a documentary about it and there certainly is a wealth of material but it’s always fallen apart in the editing.”
“That’s where I come in”, she went on to say. “It is a curse. But I am a pretty decent editor. My ultimate passion is cinematography, which is a very difficult field for women to break into and I shot virtually every frame of the series, but the fact of the matter is it’s hard to find a dedicated editor. And there’s nothing worse than working furiously on a project that sits on the shelf without an editor. So over the past couple years I have edited a lot of the projects I’ve shot. Including an epic documentary about the filmmaker George A. Romero called Dead On, which has been a 3 year process with 400 hours of footage … While Joone is just getting on it’s feet we try to put the Joone stamp on all of our projects. And since I hate to edit, I give that credit to Joone so that she can someday grow up and become a force to be reckoned with in Chicago.”
Joyce is currently shooting and editing nearly in real time. Every episode released so far (four at the time of writing this) was shot in September and Joyce is furiously trying to catch up on the editing so that the first season can wrap up around Halloween. “I missed a bunch of drama last weekend because I was trapped editing. Each week thousands of people come to the haunted house and there are two football field sized tents full of people waiting to get in. Opening weekend a girl broke her ankle, last weekend an actor got her nose broken and there have been a lot of audience members so scared they have to be rushed to the exits. It’s going to escalate from here as the holiday draws near.”