Dead before Dawn 3D, interview with April Mullen, photo

Talking horror-comedy with April Mullen, the first female to direct a 3D film

It’s a zombie!  It’s a demon!  Nope.  It’s a Zemon!

The Canadian horror comedy Dead Before Dawn 3D combines the best of the underworld and the undead in the form of the Zemon, a new breed of monster that’s out to make night a living Hell for a group of college kids thanks to an ancient malevolent curse.  Featuring a cast that includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Devon Bostick and the legendary Christopher Lloyd, Dead Before Dawn 3D has the distinct honour of being the first-ever 3D Canadian movie!  If you thought Zemons sounded awesomely terrifying before, just wait until you see the monster mash-up in 3D. 

We went one-on-one with the movie’s director and star April Mullen, who just happens to be the first ever female director to tackle a 3D movie.  Read on to hear all about the birth of Zemons, the talented cast and crew, and exploring the 3D space on screen before Cineplex brings the Zemon action to the big screen across the country on October 30th!


Cineplex: You’re not only the first female to direct a film in stereoscopic 3D, but also the youngest.  To top it off Dead Before Dawn is the first Canadian feature film to be shot in 3D.  Did these achievements add to the pressure of making the film, or are these accomplishments just the icing on the cake for you?

April Mullen: The biggest excitement for us was that we were able to fund, shoot and finalize the film in Canada.  There was such fantastic talent involved in the film.  Being able to achieve the stereoscopic 3D at our budget level in 20 days is what makes it very special.  So many people believed in the film and all worked together in making it possible. 

Yes, the rest was just icing on the cake!

Cineplex: Was there a learning curve to shooting in 3D, especially on a 20 day film shoot?

AM: Yes there was.  We knew we wanted to shoot the film in 3D from the very early stages of development and we wrote the film with 3D in mind.  We also pre-visualized the entire film in 3D and all the shot lists were prepped and ready for the 3D space.  That helped a great deal. 

There are huge differences between shooting for 3D and 2D.  In the world of 3D fast cuts and whip pans don’t work, so you have to use more master shots where the actors move through the space and the frame.  It makes the whole process much more theatrical in nature.  We used a lot of slow, long dolly moves where the actors would be creating the movement instead of the editing.  This allows the audience to explore the 3D space on screen.

April Mullen, Dead Before Dawn 3D 
April Mullen directs and stars in Dead Before Dawn 3D

Cineplex: You avoided a lot of the 3D gimmicks that come part and parcel with horror films- flying limbs, blood, guts and gore.  Was this a conscious decision or a result of a limited budget?

AM: That was a conscious decision.  We decided to give the film a much more immersive look with the 3D.  That’s when images and the action sink back into the screen as opposed to popping out at you.  The immersive approach is interesting because it allows the viewer to investigate and explore the frame, much more like exploring a painting or portrait.  It gives the viewer the opportunity to decide what they want to focus on. 

Cineplex: Did you have a lot of say when it comes to casting?  How did Devon Bostick and Christopher Lloyd get involved? 

AM: Yes, when it came to casting we were heavily involved.  We wrote the roles of Casper and Horus Galloway with Devon and Christopher in mind, so we were honoured when they both agreed to do the project.

Devon is such a strong talent and really did a great job carrying the film and anchoring it down amidst all the Zemon craziness.  For the role of Horus Galloway, played by Christopher, we needed an actor that could bring a certain sense of magic and fantasy to the role, while keeping it grounded in truth, and he did just that!  They were both paramount in bringing the film to life.

Cineplex: How did the concept of the Zemons come about?

When my partner Tim Doiron and I were working on the script we thought it would be a great spin on the genre.  At the time we were writing the script Zombies still hadn’t blown up yet –"The Walking Dead" and World War Z weren’t out – but we knew that zombies were something that have been done well many times before.  So we started talking about what we thought would be funny and scary at the same time and we finally landed on a Zombie Demon hybrid, aka a Zemon - a whole new creature for the horror lexicon.  And the fact that they give hickeys was the final nail in the coffin.  

Cineplex: You not only direct and produce Dead Before Dawn 3D, but you also act in it.  Did you always see yourself in the role of Becky?

No.  Initially I was going to play the role of Lucy and at the time my hair was blond, but we decided to switch it up because we couldn’t find a Becky.  So I dyed my hair black and learned to use a crossbow.

Cineplex: What do you hope audiences get out of Dead Before Dawn 3D?

Dead Before Dawn 3D was made to be experienced in 3D with friends.  It is a self-aware comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.   We hope people watch the film and have a great time.  It’s the type of film that’s meant to create an awesome night out with some laughs and screams while you throw popcorn at the screen.  It’s like a new age Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Cineplex: Now that you have conquered 3D, what’s next for you?

We are currently in production on our next feature film.  It’s an action thriller entitled 88, starring Katharine Isabelle, Michael Ironside and Christopher Lloyd.  Needless to say, we’re ecstatic to be re-teaming with Christopher on this film.  It’s a really different role for him – very gritty and dark. 

88 will be coming to a Cineplex near you in 2014!


Catch Dead Before Dawn 3D in theatres on Wednesday, October 30th.  For showtimes and tickets, click here.

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