“THE DIAMOND DEAD” WAR JOURNAL – NOTES FROM THE FRONT

It’s one o’clock in the afternoon, I’m sitting in Atria’s restaurant just outside of Cranberry, PA. To my left is actress Amy Lynn Best. To my right is G. Cameron Romero, head of Cameron Multimedia, Inc. & Operative Communications, Inc. (CAMOP) in Wexford. Cameron is also the son of George Romero, and has created the official website to George’s new movie, “The Diamond Dead”.

For horror fans and hopeful filmmakers, growing up in Pittsburgh means growing up in the shadow of George Romero. Romero, of course, was responsible for two of the arguably greatest horror movies ever made, Night of the Living Dead and “Dawn of the Dead”, which, along with his third film, Day of the Dead, created the flesh-eating zombie sub-genre that has allowed low-budget indie filmmakers to thrive over the past twenty years. Many folks consider Romero to be, if not a god, per ce, then at least a god-like figure in the filmmaker pantheon. As a long-time horror geek, I count myself among the latter. So sitting with Cameron was a big deal for me – I was a single degree away from George Romero.

After the shock and awe wore off, I realized that Cameron was a separate entity from his father, as well as being a hell of a nice guy. And far from giving me yet another geek moment, he was joining us for lunch to talk about “The Diamond Dead”, the film, the website, and the potential for so much more.

“We’re building this site,” Romero told us, “to be completely interactive. We’ve got diaries from the production team that will be constantly updated, a news section, it’s open to the fans to make suggestions, ask questions directly to the producers, to Andrew Gaty, the whole thing will be open.”

I’m watching Cameron talk, watching the excitement level grow. His enthusiasm was contagious – and Amy and I were already excited. We were talking about a new Romero movie, about an undead band – a horror musical with songs by Richard Hartley, who wrote the score for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Which is where Amy and I met, many moons ago!) Cameron’s enthusiasm wasn’t of the hand-waving type, but it reached his eyes and his voice as he described what he wanted to do with this site.

“At some point, we’re even going to open up the script to the public and allow the fans to comment on what they’d want to see, who they’d like to see in the movie. We all really want this site and this movie to be for the fans and by the fans. And beyond the movie – we’d love it to be a meeting place for independent filmmakers, where people can network and talk about their projects, but without a lot of the negativity that you find in a lot of other sites. I want this to be very productive and supportive.”

Cameron paused, pulled back a bit. “So, I guess I should tell you that this is exciting for me too,” he said, laughing. “Look, I’ve been doing multimedia work for years. Doing advertising websites, and corporate websites – how many sites can you do for hotels? There’s a client who wants me to build the site so that her clients can see that their hotel is really special. They’re telling me that – ‘I want it to look special’. Well, how do you do that after you’ve done a hundred hotel websites? I’m gonna take a picture of one of your rooms, paste it up there, maybe do a 3-D rendering…I can’t tell you how much fun this (“Diamond Dead”) site is to do. And when I presented it to my team, they all got excited about it, and they’d bring their ideas to the table. Now everyone’s excited to come to work again. I’m excited to come to work again!”

Since it’s launch in early November, the site has gotten over 500,000 hits – much of that thanks to indie website word-of-mouth, which is part of Romero’s plan as well. “We want as much of the publicity as possible to come from the web. We’re trying to use the web the way it was meant to be used – to convey information, let it spread, build interest for the site that way.” Which means limited print and television advertising, of course (producer Andrew Gaty has been interviewed in Variety). But on the other hand, the folks who are going to be most excited about this project are already web-savvy horror enthusiasts. Going the predominantly web-only route is risky, but also pretty cheap and very easy, with the biggest potential for payoff. The 500,000-plus hits seems to indicate that the plan is working.

The movie has been in pre-pre-production since Hartley finished his initial nine songs and Romero finished his first director’s draft on the script this past summer. Now, according to a new entry in Gaty’s “Bloody Diaries” section, the hunt for financing is on. (This section seems like the riskiest to me, as Gaty has outlined his entire plan right there for the world to see. Hopefully, studio execs won’t see this as a way to turn the tables on the production.) There’s word that Lion’s Gate is interested, that there’s opportunity for U.K. financing. It won’t be until some of this money is in place that any form of casting will be done. There’s a huge wish list on the site of top picks. Name an actor or actress that has strolled in front of your eyes over the past ten years on television or on the big screen – they’re there.

And as the production continues, Cameron and his team will continue to update the site, bringing news to the world, and show future filmmakers how movies truly get made right through to the post-production and release stage. As hardcore Film Threat readers already know, the filmmaking process is a lengthy one, so it could be a year or more before “The Diamond Dead” is ready for viewing. So in the meantime, keep your browsers tuned to www.diamonddead.com, join the mailing list and keep checking back here, where I’ll be bringing you the news from the front lines.

Time for some Back Talk>>>




Posted on February 3, 2004 in Features by
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