Monday, December 24, 2018

“Anna and the Apocalypses” “Zombieland” Meets “Bloody Christmas” in a “High School Musical”

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Anna and the Apocalypse,” an underground seasonal teen's horror/comedy/musical with sensational dark humor. An instant cult classic!!!

When British co-writer Ryan McHenry worked in the seventeen-minute short film “Zombie Musical,” he never imagined that a few years later, it will turn into the new coming-of-age musical hit “Anna and the Apocalypse” directed by the young, talented and visionary John McPhail.

To make the short a feature, they added more novelty elements to create a more flamboyant story. They shot in twenty-eight days, averaging seventeen sets a day in a non-sequential order.
Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The weather conditions were challenging during those days, in England. – They had plenty of rain, wind, fog, and snow.  From dawn-to-dark they only six hours of daylight, for that reason, the preproduction was crucial.  

They spent a week of planning the climactic song “Hollywood Ending.”
Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
During the shooting, director of photography Sara Deane always looked for that emotional beat that could drag the viewer's attention to a focal point. She created a vibrant and colorful world through her lenses and the help of the convenient Christmas decorations. In contrast, working in the hallways was more challenging because space was limited and harder to light.
In the story of “Anna and the Apocalypse,” the filmmakers combined zombie assaults with the musical numbers. 

“Anna and the Apocalypse” is a subversive story within the Zombie Genre. They mix a romantic comedy with the horror to help break the structure - beginning with the desires, goals, and dreams that every character has, and to foreshadow the outcome of the story.
In this original story, Anna and John (Ella Hunt and Malcolm Cumming) have to confront an evil teacher named Savage, played by Paul Kaye. The loss of a good friend gives real meaning to fight the Zombies. The representation of zombies gets personal, a symbol of the undead, like Santa Claus, is for happiness.
John McPhail, director. Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Director John McPhail wanted everyone to feel real. He is a believer in character truthfulness. McPhail knows, actors are people, they are not kids. He has to know where they are coming from and where they are going. Accordingly to his own words, he said: “‘Jaws’ has the same structure as ‘Ghostbusters,’ and still, those are two very different movies.”

Director is a huge fan of Musicals: “West Side Story,” “Cabaret,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Legally Blonde” on stage. He worked with three other composers who had never done a musical before. They were making sure they were on the same page and used a comparable terminology that included respect for
everyone and everything - honor the female characters, respect the zombies, and the bullies too.

The memorable music includes the terrific songs “Christmas Means Nothing without You,” “Break Away,” “Soldier at war,” “Turning My Life Around,” “What Time to Be Alive,” and, of course, “Hollywood Ending.”

Even though this flick was made in England, is not for the British only. American audiences can identify with the songs, the excellent comedy, and all those fantastic dead and alive characters.
John McPhail, director. Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The magic of cinema comes when a movie like this one is appealing to everyone. 

The director said, “The comedy has a spark, and it comes from something real.” He added, “What America has brought to Grand Britain, now we want to give something back, like this pleasing and surprisingly original film.”

The new hard-core fans of this genre can rejoice to know that the stage version of “Anna and the Apocalypse” will be touring at theaters around the globe pretty soon. Enjoy!
Jose Alberto Hermosillo, John McPhail, director. Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

Anna & the Apocalypse Cast - Hollywood Ending

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Festival in LA ©2018

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