Marc Price’s film wowed the critics at Cannes and has won a deal for nationwide release. Not bad, he tells Sarfraz Manzoor, considering he juggled making it with his job at a courier firm – and it cost only £45
Marc Price revels in unlikely tales. The flesh-eating zombie in his debut film goes by the name of Colin and, as if that was not unlikely enough, Price wrote, directed and produced the film for £45 – less than the price of a decent DVD box set. Now it is garnering praise and publicity that money cannot buy and this week it was announced that it is to be released in cinemas nationwide.
Price, 30, meets me one morning in the bar of a London hotel. The interview has been scheduled around his job – afternoon and evening shifts answering calls at the London courier firm where he has worked for three years. It was in quiet moments at his desk that he wrote the script for Colin over three months. "Because I am not allowed to leave my station it’s a great way of battling procrastination," he says.
His lack of money inspired his quirky take on zombie films. "I had been a fan of [George A] Romero’s films but I didn’t have the money to copy them – I knew my only hope was to find a new angle. Then it hit me: why not do a movie from the point of view of a zombie?"
With Romero’s films bearing dread-laden titles such as Dawn of the Dead why did he pick Colin? "The lead character is named after my dad. He is a steelworker and it was his love of movies that first inspired me to think about making films." Price grew up in Port Talbot in south Wales and when he was nine he spent an entire summer watching Jaws every day. "It terrified me but I would watch it again and again, getting my mates to say lines of dialogue from the film and I would record the lines and intercut it with music from the soundtrack."
Price studied Multimedia in Swansea where he learned the basics of film-making. After graduating he stacked shelves at Asda while working on his first short film.
During the production of his second short Price moved to London and met actor Alastair Kirton, who agreed to play the lead role in Colin for free. Other actors were recruited using social networking sites. "We went on Facebook and MySpace and said, ‘Who wants to be a zombie?’ We managed to get 50 brilliantly madeup zombies and stuff them into a living room." The actors were told to bring any clothes they did not mind getting covered with blood. "The overall theme was you get out what you put in," says Price. "So to the makeup people we said bring your own equipment and you can do whatever zombie look you want. Luckily, one of our makeup people had just come off doing X-Men 3 so we had the same latex that was put on Wolverine."
The equipment was also borrowed. "The film was shot on an old camcorder that I had bought when I was 25, but that died during the filming and I had to use an even older model." The tapes came courtesy of a friend who worked as a runner for a TV studio – he gave Price a bag of 100 tapes he had been told to dump. The film was mostly shot in London with the crew working fast and without permission. "The most complicated scene was filmed in a little cul-de-sac in Teddington. It was on the street and we had all these kids coming to watch so I told them to run back and forth in front of the camera and it ended up looking like it was a heavily populated scene."
With the actors, composers and makeup artists all working for free the only money Price spent was on a crowbar and some snacks for the cast and crew. "The plan was to make the film for absolutely nothing," Price says, "so we went over budget the day we spent money on tea and biscuits."
For 18 months Price filmed during the day and edited on his laptop while at work at night. He picked up most of the skills required to make a movie by watching the special features DVD of his favourites. "Those little features would go into a wealth of detail about how directors conceive and execute shots, special effects, sound design, music," he explains. "I found myself absorbing all this information."
Colin was screened at the Abattoir horror film festival in Wales where sales agent Helen Grace saw it and urged Price to take the film to Cannes. "The reaction was amazing," says Price "I couldn’t believe the list of people who were coming to see my film – we had representatives from some really big American studios". The screenings led to a distribution deal that should see the film being released nationwide. "I’m still in shock," says Price. "I feel like I’m in two different worlds – the world where I work at the courier firm and this other world that is opening up where I really could be making my way as a film-maker."
Colin has turned its director into the poster boy of zero-budget film-making, an example of what can be achieved with an old camcorder, a laptop and a good idea. "Technology has liberated film-makers," says Price. "Everyone has an uncle or friend who has a camcorder. There really are no excuses. I love the idea of people picking up camcorders and mobile phones – my mum’s mobile phone is HD so it has a higher resolution than the one I used in Colin. I’m really excited by the idea of people watching my cheap little film and thinking, ‘If this asshole can do it, I can do it’."
• Colin will be released in UK cinemas on 23 October and on DVD three days later. It will be screened at Frightfest at the Empire cinema, Leicester Square, London, on 28 August and 31 August and at the Raindance festival in London on 2 October.