Zach Lipovsky Talks ‘Dead Rising: Watchtower’

GameStop, Inc.

Dead Rising: Watchtower is a Crackle original movie based on the popular zombie video game franchise. The film stars Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, and Rob Riggle. The film will be available on the following platforms and dates:

  • Monday, March 11, 2015: Crackle’s DR:W premiere
  • Friday, March 20: Xbox exclusive premiere of DR:W on their Crackle channel
  • Friday, March 27: “Wide” Crackle premiere of DR:W on all of their platforms

I was able to interview Dead Rising director Zach Lipovsky about the film and the challenges he faced turning a video game into a movie.

DRZ2Zach, please tell us the process it took for Dead Rising to become a film and how you became the director. Who and why decided to turn this video game into a film?

Everything started with Tim Carter, the writer and producer of the film. He writes a lot of big video games and is well known in the game industry. He was good friends with the creators of Dead Rising at Capcom Vancouver, so he pitched them on what the film could be, and got the rights.

Once he had that, he was able to get Legendary on board, and then Crackle. At that point I pitched my heart out and was able to convince them that I was the man for the job.

Were you nervous about directing this film? Video game movies (over all) have a bad reputation of not being very good.

It’s true most video game movies suck, but that never really made me nervous. Tim told me his theory that its similar to comic book movies. There was a time when comic book movies sucked too, mostly because the people making the films weren’t fans of the material, and didn’t grow up with comic books. Now all the people in charge at Marvel are fans who grew up with comics and want to be true to the material. That’s what I think we’re starting to see with video games.

This film was really made in close collaboration with its creators at Capcom, and it was made by people who love playing the game. Tim’s producing partner Tomas could probably beat most people in a speed run of DR2.

The other big reason most video games end up being bad movies is that the main characters are cyphers for the player. So they aren’t very rich, that makes for boring main characters in a film. In Dead Rising each game has a new set of characters in a new setting. So we were able to build characters from the ground up that worked well for the film.

DRZ3Were you a fan of the video game? What were some of your favorite moments from the game? Were you able to put any of those moments into the film?

There are hundreds of moments taken right out of my experience playing the games. Characters, weapons, scares, special moves, gruesome kills, even camera angles. We even used the same composer as the game to bring the feeling from the game to the movie.

Some of my favourite moment from the game were the situations where I screwed up, got myself in to really bad situations, and had to desperately find ways out of them. I would then just write them down and put them into the script.

We even had an Xbox in the production office with a white board next to it. So any crew member could play the game then write down their favorite moments to be added to the film.

What techniques did you use when directing this film? Any fancy equipment used? I know drone cameras are becoming really popular now.

We did use drones, they really are amazing. I own a drone and think they are quickly going to transform how we make movies. Everything is more epic with a drone. I also have been experimenting with really bizarre angles filmed with GoPros. We attached GoPros to basically everything. Weapons, cars, zombie’s feet, hands, heads.

DRZWe even invented a new rig that gives a very unique look. We put a GoPro on a stabilizing head, then tapped that to a boom pole. So you have a stabilized camera on the end of a thirty foot long stick. Then I’d proceed to maniacally wave it around and jab it at people during a fight scene. The footage from it is unlike anything you’ve seen before. There is a shot from that in the trailer when one of the zombies sits up as the camera zooms right into their face.

Whats next for you?

I’m currently in prep on a pilot with Disney XD, then moving on to a film written by Graeme Manson, the creator of Orphan Black. It’s an incredibly cool contained thriller set in the 1920s in a lighthouse. Its the best script I’ve ever read, so I can’t wait to bring that to life.

Where can people follow your directing journey on social media?

I’ve been posting exclusive videos every day to my youtube channel, revealing one new thing about the film every day. I’m also on twitter, @zachlipovsky, and Facebook. Everything I do is at www.zachlipovsky.com

Watch the trailer on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2moRzKdtdu4

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