Day 2 as a Supporting Actor

Cockneys vs Zombies is a horror comedy film about a gang of bank robbers fighting their way out of a zombie-infested London. I spent 2 days as a Supporting Actor (SA) on this film. Here is my story…

Day  2

Day 2 was the reason most people wanted to be an extra on this film – this was ZOMBIE DAY!

We were driven to our cafe base early to get our makeup applied. Not everybody got to be a zombie, some pedestrians were bite victims who would run around the set screaming. Some of the guys were really gutted when they found out they wouldn’t get to be zombies and I really felt bad for them. I had arrived with the first group and all market traders were to be turned into zombies.

The costume/make-up department were doing 4 people at a time. When my turn came I sat down while the nice make-up lady did her work on me. First sun screen was applied before a layer of pale foundation was used. I had a prosthetic bite mark on my neck. Fake blood was painted onto my face, neck and hands, bizarrely I quite enjoyed this procedure.

Here is a picture of me fresh out of make-up taken by Sally.

Cockneys vs Zombies – Are zombies supposed to smile? Paul Burrow fresh out of make-up

Once the face was done it was time to step outside and get dirty with 2 more girls ­čÖé These 2 had squeezy bottles full of fake blood which they lovingly squirted over me and put bloody hand marks on my clothes. These 2 really enjoyed their jobs , they roughed me up a bit then it was time for zombie training.

Zombie training consisted of watching a video on how zombies behave, followed by classic zombie walking and behaviour demonsrated by a real zombie expert. His walk and mannerisms were excellent and we were taught well! Zombies are slow and docile, they┬áreact to loud noise. They have poor eyesight. The walk is stiff and from the hip, it’s almost a stumble. Arms are limp and floppy. Any arm swings attempting to grab a runner also come from the hip. Once a victim is grabbed the grip is vice like. Hard to describe – watch the film and you’ll get the picture.

The walk up the street to the location was funny as every passer by gave you a funny look (Obviously).

Without going into the plot too much the scene was set on the same street as day 1 outside the bank but all hell had broken loose! The street was trashed. Cars were left abandoned, there were blood and body parts strewn over the site, market stalls were tipped over. This looked great. The art department had really gone to town! Photos were not allowed on set so I just took one from outside the street.

Cockneys vs Zombies – Bank robbery street location

Down to business. This day consisted of various zombie, police and bank robber action. To start with it was zombies vs policemen. I got to do a great closeup scene where myself and one other zombie got to throw a policeman over the back of a car, attack him then drag him off to be eaten. This happened while action went on in the background. I really hope they use this in the final cut of the film. The other zombie (George) and I had our mouths filled with fake blood and we drooled and spat over the policeman (Mark) as he fought for his life. We had a few practice runs before the cameras rolled and we really went for it with a proper struggle.

Eating a Policeman

Eating a Policeman

The rest of the day was different shots of the same scenes with zombies wandering the streets slowly chasing fresh flesh in all directions.

Another picture taken by Sally shows me in zombie mode heading towards the action off picture.

Cockneys vs Zombies – Bank robbery street scene zombies

There were a lot of people watching from windows and the crew had a hard time stopping traffic and moving on the general public who wanted to watch when the cameras were rolling. It was funny how many people approached and asked if this was real – had there been an accident? I mean seriously? What did they think had happened? There was a half eaten corpse with intestines hanging out and people covered in blood… Doh! I was asked several times “what were we filming?” I explained Cockneys vs Zombies at first but then I was tired of the question and I┬áreplied “Casualty”. (Well I thought it was funny :P)

I had another cool moment when Michelle Ryan (Bionic Woman or Zoe Slater from Eastenders to all you Brits) asked both myself and another Paul (Zombie Sax man) to frame her in a picture taken at the location. We stood either side of her. I thought it was just a regular picture at first so I had my arm round her – she laughed and said “ooh that’s a bit friendly” so the cameraman got us to pose in zombie character and he took a few pictures. I’d love to get hold of those pictures if possible – hopefully they’ll be released in the lead up to the film.

Michelle Ryan and zombies

Michelle Ryan and zombies

Ian who works for SFX was writing a feature on being a zombie extra. SFX are doing a zombie edition in September and they took a group zombie picture of us. Hopefully it will appear in the magazine.

SFX group photo

SFX group photo

I had a great time being an extra in a zombie film. If you get the chance to do something similar I’d highly recommend it if you can put up with the waiting around involved. Is it worth thinking about a career change to do this full time? I don’t think so… yet ­čÖé

I’m hoping some of my brief moments of action appear in the film when it’s released early next year (2012). For now though here are a few pictures I took myself when filming had finished before the makeup was removed.

Cockneys vs Zombies – Paul Burrow – Have I got something on my face? No seriously?

Cockneys vs Zombies – Paul Burrow – I think it was something I ate

Cockneys vs Zombies – Zombies hanging out

Cockneys vs Zombies – Outside the cafe

Without turning this into an Oscar speech…
Thanks to all the great people I met. Maybe we’ll work together again in the future? Special thanks to Johnny Lynch! What a great guy and a bloody hard worker.

Cockneys vs Zombies is in cinemas February 2012