Icons of Fright stumbled upon the final day of shooting for the pilot episode of "Babylon Fields", the upcoming zombie horror series that will be airing on CBS.
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Today as I was crawling out of bed my brother called me. "Mike. There’s a bunch of zombies and cops at the cemetery up the street". What? Could it be? The end of the world, right at my doorstep? I grabbed my cameras and jumped into my car to check it out.
Right at the end of my block at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, NY there was indeed a mass infestation of the living dead. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Zombies. And cops. And…production assistants?! I immediately put on my reporter hat (it’s green, kind of houndstooth/plaid pattern, looks good, great stuff) and searched for anyone who might look like they were in charge. I approached one zombie who told me he was just with the casting agency and he pointed me to a P.A.
The P.A ended up being a nice young woman named Sara, a location manager. She told me this was the final day of shooting on the pilot of "Babylon Fields". It’s being directed by Michael Cuesta (who has directed episodes of the cable series "Dexter" and "Six Feet Under" and wrote and directed the feature "L.I.E."). The series will star Ray Stevenson ("Rome") and Amber Tamblyn ("The Grudge 2").
I noticed that the zombies looked very old-school, and I mean old-old school like "Night of the Living Dead". The extras I saw all were in suits and funeral clothing with a smattering of gray and white makeup. There didn’t appear to be any big prosthetic zombies. The scene they were shooting seemed to involve the zombies making their way out of the cemetery gate, as the extras filed in and out of it several times over the course of 2 hours. There was heavy use of fog machine and big water trucks coming around several times to make sure the cemetery streets were kept wet at all times. I didn’t see any of the major stars of the show, just a lot of extras doing the zombie shuffle, or hanging out and sitting on the street or tombstones waiting for the director to call them back in. I also thought it was pretty funny that the production’s only bathroom was in the back office of a Christian book store right next to the cemetary. Watching zombies go in and out of the bookstore, that’s comedy.
The PA I spoke with said the mood and atmosphere they appear to be going for was kind of tongue-in-cheek. I could believe that, based on how the zombie extras looked, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for the series to air to find out. I mean, Cuesta’s other work on "Dexter" certainly shows he’s got a penchant for the darkly humorous. So, anyway, here’s the pictures I managed to get. It’s mostly pictures of zombie extras, sorry about that, it was tough getting closer because they were making heavy use of the edge of the cemetery. Also, the quality is a bit tough, these are mostly screen grabs from my camcorder. I was very unprepared for class, with just my cell phone and camcorder, but dude, when someone says you’ve got zombies at the end of your block you grab and run. Run right toward them!
Camera operator following a black car (unseen) into the cemetery gate with zombie extra emerging.
Zombie extras leaving the cemetery on the set of Babylon Fields.
More zombie extras shuffling out of the cemetery.
Same deal, zombie extras.
This zombie extra looked a little like Denholm Elliot.
Here’s a few zombies heading over to the Christian bookstore to use the bathroom.
Cop and location manager stopping traffic. Not that you need a cop to stop traffic when the living dead are running around the cemetery. I almost saw 2 car accidents happen while people hit the brakes to do double-takes.
A dreaded sunny day, so I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates. Elenore Roosevelt-looking zombie.
The zombies do look a like like homeless people for this series. I wonder if they’ll use scarier makeup in other scenes?
Free zombie mustache rides.
This guy’s chewed off ear was the most elaborate makeup I saw on the set. Hope they’re saving the big stuff for the show.
She’s cold because she’s dead. Or homeless.
This guy was sitting there all day. I never got close enough to see if he was maybe just a puppet.
They kept the streets wet and shiny.