Monday, December 24, 2018

Anna and the Apocalypse: Zombieland in a High School Musical

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Anna and the Apocalypse poster ©2019 Festival in LA

 “Anna and the Apocalypse” is an extraordinary, underground teen horror/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 a few years later, it would turn into a coming-of-age, high school musical “Anna and the Apocalypse.” 
Anna and the Apocalypse display at the Arclight, Hollywood. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo.

The director of this terrific film is the young and talented John McPhail, who placed all the elements together to make this fun-to-watch, animated flick. “Anna and the Apocalypse” appeals to a new generation of film-goers.

They added a few more novelty elements and characters to upgrade the short into a feature film, making the story more vivid and fluidly entertaining. 

They shot the movie in twenty-eight days, averaging a record of seventeen sets a day in a non-sequential order.
Anna and the Apocalypse. Photo Jose Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
At that time of the year in Englandthe weather conditions were challenging. The filmmakers had plenty of rain, wind, fog, and snow during the production. 

Having only six hours of daylight, they worked from dawn to dark. For that reason, pre-production was essential for the well-being of the film.  

They also spent a week 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 to drag the viewer’s attention to a focal point. Miss Deane created an electrifying and colorful world through her lenses. With the convenient help of the seasonal Christmas decorations made out of this zombie musical, a genre film worth watching. 

She added that working in the hallways was more challenging because space was limited and more complex to light.

“Anna and the Apocalypse” combined the zombie assaults with gaudy and well-choreographed musical numbers. 
“Anna and the Apocalypse” is a provocative story within the Zombie Genre. 

The filmmakers mixed romantic comedy with horror to help break the structure - beginning with every character's desires, goals, and dreams and foreshadowing the story’s outcome.
In this highly original story, Anna and John (Ella Hunt and Malcolm Cumming) confront the evil teacher Savage, terrifically played by Paul Kaye.

For the central characters, losing a good friend gives real meaning to fighting the Zombies. 

The representation of zombies becomes personal as the symbol of the undead, and depression-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 in the film to feel real. He is a believer in character truthfulness. 

McPhail firmly believes that actors are people, not kids. In the character’s bios, he has to know where they are coming from and where they are going. 

In McPhail’s own words: “‘Jaws’ has the same structure of ‘Ghostbusters,’ and still are two different movies.”

Director is a huge fan of Musicals: “West Side Story,” “Cabaret,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Legally Blonde” stage. 

He worked with three other composers who had never done a musical before. They ensured they were on the same page and used a comparable terminology that included respect for everyone and everything - honor the female characters, 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 a Time to Be Alive,” “Human Voice,” and of course, “Hollywood Ending.”

This film is not for the British only. Even though it was made in England, “Anna and the Apocalypse” Music is Universal. American and worldwide audiences can identify with the songs, the comedy, and the 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 appeals to everyone. 

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

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

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