Quantcast ICONS Interview with THE FINAL DAY filmmakers Paul Del Vecchio, David R. Doumeng & Douglas Frye - DIARY OF THE DEAD Contest Winners


Hey there horror kids! Joining me today is the cast and crew of THE FINAL DAY, the grand prize winning, short film that will be featured on the May 20th release DIARY OF THE DEAD DVD! These gentlemen were hand picked by George Romero himself, as winners of the Myspace film contest. And now…these Long Island, NY based filmmakers are sitting down with ICONS! - By Beth - 5/08

Questions answered by:

Paul Del Vecchio
– Director, Writer, Producer, Editor, D.P.
David R. Doumeng – Actor, Producer, Writer, Foley Artist
Douglas Frye – Writer, Producer

Icons: I was never aware of a film contest where George Romero, himself, would be picking winners for a spot on the DIARY OF THE DEAD DVD. How did you get involved?

David R. Doumeng: Paul told me about the contest. I said, "Fuck yeah. Let's fucking do it.”

Douglas Frye: Paul found the contest on MySpace and brought it up while in a writing session for a series in which we are currently involved. As Romero fans, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to pay homage and make a fun film. We each wrote a script, coming from three different angles and ultimately decided to go with Dave's idea.
Paul Del Vecchio: I read about it on MySpace. I talked to these guys about it and they were down to make it. I basically said, “Look, it’s three minutes, we can do that in a weekend, probably even in a day. Worst case scenario, we lose but people will still see our work. Maybe it will get them interested in our other projects. Best case scenario, we win, and A LOT more people see our work and maybe gain some interest in our other projects. It’s a win/win situation. We’d be stupid not to do it.” They agreed.
Icons: Pretty good rationale I’d say (laughs). So then it was required to be a 3 minute film?

Paul Del Vecchio: Well originally, we heard 3 or 4 minutes. We weren’t sure. So the original cut was around 3:30 but that was just because of the credits. After we found out it HAD TO BE 3 minutes, no longer, then we shortened the credits and it ended up being 3 minutes exactly.

Icons: How did the writing go over for that then? I mean, did you guys just think of something and immediately run with it or did you go over several story possibilities? What were some other directions you were considering when making the film?

Paul Del Vecchio: We each wrote our own separate scripts. Doug wrote one, I wrote one, and Dave wrote one. Doug’s script and my script were completely different, but had the “Diary of the Dead” type camera style. That “Blair Witch” or “Cloverfield” style.

Dave’s had a traditional camera style. Dave and I decided that his script was probably the best one for both us and the competition in that it combined so many different ways we could showcase our talents (more on this later). I remember he called me and said, “I don’t think that 1st person camera style is working for me. I think we should just do it like a normal film.” I agreed. So the end product was a combination of ideas. Dave’s original script needed more action so the first half of the film was an action scene loosely based on the very beginning of the script I wrote. Everything after that was, for the most part, Dave’s script.

So yeah, we had different directions in our scripts. Doug’s was essentially about posers, mine was a horror film with action and believe it or not, a love story, and Dave, well, you all know what it was about. We’re toying with the idea of posting the scripts so that people can see the difference and how the final script evolved.

Icons: Where was the film shot? Was it a home town? I love the bit about Romero Park (laughs)

Paul Del Vecchio: This was most definitely a hometown shoot. I love shooting in Long Island. There are so many beautiful places to shoot out here. Most of them, no one knows about. We shoot all our films out here. As long as you are not doing anything illegal or crazy, for the most part, no one bothers you and you can just work.

Oh, and “ Romero Park” was Dave’s idea. (laughs)

Douglas Frye: One note about the outdoors shots - that's a small public park with an art museum attached. So, for anyone wondering how we got a "mansion" to shoot exteriors around, you've just got to keep your eye out on your surroundings. Shoot quickly and quietly and no one will really worry you.

Paul Del Vecchio: I’d like to add one thing. It’s funny because a lot of people were like, “Oh, you had a mansion. You had an awesome camera.” Etc. Like Doug said, it was a public park. Our camera? The Panasonic DVX100a. Not even high definition, not even 16:9. Plus, with the digital stretching to anamorphic 16:9, then cropping to 2.35:1, we lost A LOT of the resolution that we started with from the 720x480 frame.
I bet that at least 50% of the people that entered shot on either the same camera, or a camera in that same class, so we didn’t have any crazy advantages over anyone like some people thought. In fact, if you want to look at it like that, we were maybe at a disadvantage since some people were shooting in HD. But it was funny because we were still being attacked by some people for no good reason. But that’s just part of the business. Whatever. (laughs)

Icons: Nothin' like doin it old school though, I’m sure Romero was very proud! Did you create the film specifically for this contest?

David R. Doumeng: Yes....we did....yes....indeed. I have nothing more to add, so you guys can chime in. (laughs)

Douglas Frye: Yes, the writing came about through the chance to get a film placed on George Romero's MySpace page.

Paul Del Vecchio: Deep down inside, as much as I deny it, I’ve always wanted to make a zombie film. The thing is, zombie films have been done to death (no pun intended) and I didn’t want to make a zombie film out of the blue for no reason if it didn’t bring something new to the table. Then this contest came along and it was an opportunity to make that zombie film that I have always wanted to make. Don’t get me wrong, though. I didn’t want to make a crap film just to enter the contest. From the start, we always said to each other that we wanted to make it more about the characters than the zombies, gore, etc.
We wanted to showcase what we could do. For me, it was about directing both dramatic scenes and action scenes. That’s why half of the film is action, the other half, dramatic. We wanted to include all aspects of what we thought make not just a good zombie film, but a good film in this genre. Action, suspense, drama, good acting, etc. So we had to cram all that into three minutes. We wanted to show versatility. So now that I’ve drifted from the question… to answer: Yes, it was created for the contest but it also was created for ourselves because we’re big believers in creating your own opportunities. 99% of the time, that’s how it is. You don’t get things handed to you, you have to take them.
Icons: Yeah, I totally agree that it’s becoming cliché’ to create a zombie flick, but to those of us that love them, we still can’t get enough! I mean, I know more zombie flicks have come out in the last five years than in the last 50, but I’m still hungry for more! And apparently so are the masses cause it hasn’t lost its momentum yet!

Paul Del Vecchio:
It’s not that I don’t like zombie films. I love them. I’m hungry for zombie films, too, but I don’t want to copy my, “idols,” and not bring anything new to the table.

Icons: Yeah, that seems to be the problem with all these re-makes now a days too…people are just taking the films their idols made and re-doing them. When they were fine just the way they were! How has winning the grand prize encouraged you?

David R. Doumeng: It feels amazing to produce our own opportunities and be praised for our hard work.

Douglas Frye: It's inspiring and flattering to know that something you created was noticed out of over three hundred films by Mr. Romero himself.

Paul Del Vecchio: As these guys said, it feels amazing. It’s inspiring. It’s great to know that we’re on the right track. If one of the Masters of Horror hand-picks your film for Grand Prize Winner, you must be doing something right (I hope). So it just confirmed that we’re headed in the right direction. To get this type of validation for your extremely hard work is nice but it’s forced us to work harder so that we can top our previous accomplishments. I don’t like standing still.

Icons: In the long run, what are you hoping to do with this film or any of your works in the future?

David R. Doumeng: We have had many people tell us that they would pay to see this film if it were made into a feature. That is something definitely worth exploring. I am also hoping that this can take me further in my acting career, because that is where my passion truly lies.

Douglas Frye: Well, this film is complete and will appear on the DIARY OF THE DEAD DVD this May but we have several more ideas that we hope to have the opportunity to complete and be seen very soon.

Paul Del Vecchio: As Dave said, maybe a feature version is worth exploring. In the long run, we’re hoping to make a career out of filmmaking. Among other things, I want to direct, Dave wants to act, Doug wants to write. We’re hoping that people recognize our abilities and give us a few opportunities because we all want successful careers in this business. More than that though, and this is the main reason we do what we do: We just want to do what we love and make a decent living off of it. That’s the dream we want to make into a reality.

Icons : I can never leave a story untold. Do you think perhaps now, all things considered…that you might go back and add more to the film? Perhaps give it more of a back ground story? Get everyone back together and start from the beginning?

Paul Del Vecchio: Well, as Dave mentioned, we did have people mention that they would pay to see a feature version but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen unless we get financial backing. If not, we may do it, we may not. We don’t want to do it just to do it. This film was created specifically for this contest and so if we were to do a feature based off it, it probably would be a completely different movie. In order for it to be interesting as a full length feature, we’d have to create a whole new story that is different from all the other zombie flicks out there. So basically, we’d have to start from scratch. It would be a completely different film. That being said, I’m writing a feature right now that is very different from THE FINAL DAY, but with some major tweaking, it could be changed into a zombie film. That’s not where I’m going with it, but if someone came along and said, “Here’s some funding. We want to see THE FINAL DAY: THE FEATURE FILM. What can you do?” well then, it would definitely be something we could explore.

And with that being said, we’re still not sure. If it worked well, then we’d do it. If it was a forced idea that just didn’t work, we probably wouldn’t do it. However, the feature script I’m working on would definitely work because it’s sort of based on true events/beliefs people have about a certain situation. So it would definitely work as a full length film. But again, it all depends on certain factors. How’s that for a vague, indecisive answer? (laughs)

Well, let me be more direct. If it worked and the idea was good, the characters were good, and it was a compelling script, we would do it in a heartbeat. If it was a bad script that just didn’t work, we wouldn’t make it. So as long as it’s good material, we’re there and we’re going to give it 110%.

Icons: What are your thoughts on old Romero zombie films compared to the ones he's made more recently (like LAND and DIARY)?

David R. Doumeng: I think that he doesn't get enough credit for the films he puts out today. People are always saying the zombie genre is so overused and that the ideas are getting old. What people need to realize is that George Romero generated zombie popularity and established the genre with "...Living Dead".

Douglas Frye: Mr. Romero's work is so contemporary that it's hard to compare them exactly. Each addresses the social, political and economic issues of its individual era and that spans 40 years now. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is, of course, an enduring classic, and hard for any filmmaker to top but each of his films has its own merits. In later films he became particularly good at location, from the mall of DAWN OF THE DEAD to the underground facilities of DAY OF THE DEAD and continuing to the high-rise complex of Land of the Dead.
Paul Del Vecchio: I LOVE Romero’s films. I shit you not, ask my good friend Chaz. When we were in college, I would watch the “Dead” series over and over and over. He would think I was nuts. It’s funny because I know a few people that didn’t like “LAND,” saying it “looked too new.” Of course it looks new. Film stocks & technology have changed since the 80s and early 90s. I saw “BRUISER” back around 2000 and so maybe that prepared me for a Romero film having a “new-ish” look? I don’t know.

Also, to address what Dave said. First, I completely agree. Second, some people say, “Oh, another zombie movie.” Well, as Romero said himself, zombies are his ticket to keep making films. It’s what gets the people with money interested. Regardless, what some critics need to realize is that it’s not about the zombies. It’s about the people and the underlying message.
Icons: It does seem that zombie films are Romero's ticket, although I think he’s under estimating himself. I wish he’d put out some horror like he used to, perhaps work with some new writers and make an anthology film like CREEPSHOW or even another spin on MONKEY SHINES.

Paul Del Vecchio:
I would love to see that. I don’t know what the situation is, but based on what I’ve read from interviews with Mr. Romero, it seems (“seems” is the key word here) that the people with money probably see him as the “zombie guy.” It’s a shame because I’m sure he’s got some great ideas that don’t involve zombies. I enjoyed some of his other non-zombie related films so I can only hope someone lets him create more films without zombies.

Icons: Agreed, they know people love him too…I hate to see Romero used as a puppet, especially by his agent! When did horror come into your life?

David R. Doumeng: I remember when I was a young kid we would go to the video store (What we used to call "mom and pop" rental stores before DVDs and Blockbuster Video) and I used to look at the VHS covers of movies like "FRIGHT NIGHT," "HOUSE" (not the MD), and "EVIL DEAD." I would think, "What the hell are these movies about?!" That was my first introduction to horror.

Paul Del Vecchio: Horror has been in my life for as long as I can remember. When I was young, my favorite films were horror films. It’s funny that Dave said what he said because I had that same experience when I was young. I would go to local video stores like RKO Video and see covers for movies like, “EVIL DEAD 2,” with the skull looking at you and, “HOUSE,” with the severed hand ringing the doorbell and I remember feeling intrigued by that. Man, those were the days… I think it was my father who introduced me to “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.”
Douglas Frye: OK, I'm pretty much the exact opposite of you guys in those terms and I'm going to admit this now: horror films scared the crap out of me as a little kid. I was afraid of SATURDAY THE 14TH when I was, I don't know, maybe six years old? Something like that. Yes, really SATURDAY THE 14TH.

I like looking back on some stuff now that scared me and laughing, my favorite example being Freddy Krueger's rubber-hose arms in the alley scene in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Why did that freak me out? Who knows. It's funny now, though. But later, probably early in college, I discovered Hammer Studios films, the Christopher Lee Dracula pictures and the Peter Cushing Frankenstein films and I fell in love with horror then. I love that period of horror, both American and British films. That languid pace and creepy imagery that's not about quick scares but that feeling that gets under your skin and stays with you for a long time.

Icons: Aside from horror, what type of films are you truly passionate about?

Paul Del Vecchio: I love a wide variety of films. Terminator 2 is my favorite film. James Cameron is amazing. He uses state of the art technology in his films, but that’s not the “event.” The “event” is good characters, good story, good storytelling, etc. I love Lord of the Rings. Again, tons of state of the art effects, but they are not the focus. The focus is great characters you care about, a great, imaginative story, and a beautiful cinematic style. Just the other day, Doug and I watched a horror film that had horrible characters that you just don’t care about. The film had some cool elements, but you couldn’t appreciate it because you just didn’t care what happened to the characters. I feel that it’s not a good idea to make all of your main characters assholes. Then you’re on a journey with assholes, people you don’t care about, so it’s more like a waste of time than an enjoyable experience. If Frodo and Sam we complete assholes, no one would want to sit through 3 movies that are close to 3 hours each.

LOST is another show which I love. I’m only on season three at the moment, but the way they weave the story, the way the characters have developed, to me, it’s probably one of the best character based stories I have ever come across. The character development is absurdly amazing. It’s almost a crime how good it is. So story and character are the most important things to us.

It’s like going on a camping trip with people you despise. Does that sound fun? You’re stuck with these characters for an entire journey - you better at least like them a little bit. If you fall in love with them, even better! It just makes the journey that much more involved.

So that’s sort of a rule we’ve established. We need great character stuff in our films. Can the audience relate to them? Will they enjoy being around them for the amount of time they have to spend with them? Would we want to go on this journey with these characters or would we want them to die 4 minutes into the film so that they don’t waste any more of our time? I know it sounds obvious but there are so many films where the characters are hallow and they’re made this way on purpose. Whether or not we’ve succeeded in making great characters, I’ll leave that up to each individual audience member, but at least we’ve tried.

So, to answer the question… I’m truly passionate about any genre of film as long as it’s got a great/fun story and good characters. Even if it’s ridiculous, I’ll still like it. With that being said, Sci-fi films, horror films are my favorite genre to work with - something that’s based in reality, but has that “thing” that makes it extraordinary. Terminator 2 is a perfect example. LOST is another.

Douglas Frye: I'm a huge fan of comedy and satire. I try to incorporate as much of that as possible into my scripts, especially some of the horror stories I'm working on now. Right now my favorite filmmaker is Edgar Wright. The stuff he, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are doing is brilliant. The manage to make these amazing characters and these ridiculous settings work together. I like drama but I more a fan of the absurd, and I love campy over the top movies like FLASH GORDON or crazy premises like BUBBA HO-TEP. Or anything that you could cast Bruce Campbell in!
David R. Doumeng: I am more of an artist than an investor, so the films that I enjoy are the ones with an interesting script, good acting, great musical score and beautiful cinematography. I think that is why "THERE WILL BE BLOOD " is one of my all time favorite films.

It has a gritty Americana feel to it, and it is a film that astonishes the eyes, the ears and the soul. I am passionate about films that don't treat people like they are stupid. Films that make a person think or make society look at themselves, at their own actions and how they behave in the world. If a film can inspire a person to want to live a better life or enkindle a desire in them to do something, I think that is very powerful piece of work.
Icons: Tell me about some of your other projects, awards and what you like doing most with film and showing it to the masses?

David R. Doumeng: Now we have a pilot in the works as well as several options for feature films to develop. I want to keep making films with subtle messages that make people look at themselves. To, in retrospect, see how they have lived and acted toward others.
Paul Del Vecchio: Well, my first feature film is a psychological horror film called, “ForeveR.” That has been done since 2006 but we’re looking for distribution. We may put the film out ourselves so keep an eye out of that. We won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 2006 Long Island Big Fish Film Festival. The trailer also caught the eye of the MySpace team, leading to a small feature on the MySpace main filmmakers’ page.

“ForeveR,” is influenced from Japanese horror films like, “PULSE,” (not the remake, the original). It also pulls influence from horror movies from around the 70s like, “The Shining,” and, “The Omen.” Then, we have a few funny commercials up on the internet. We have a “Got Milk?” spoof and a Netflix commercial. We also have a “Behind the Scenes/Making of…” for both of them.

FOREVER Trailer:

As for stuff in the works and soon to be released, we all have tons of ideas. We’ve got this one pilot which is really dark comedy and drama. We’ve got a really weird/crazy pilot we’re working with friends who are actresses/writers Charlene Miller and Analine Ignacio. Then, we’ve got a bunch of feature scripts in the works as well as short scripts, skits, television commercials, etc. and we’re looking for investors, distributors, studios, and agents for us and our projects. Anyone interested can email paul@triple-e-productions.net for more information.

We also have a News Blog so you can leave comments and keep up to date on all our projects:


Here are some videos:


The Making Of THE FINAL DAY:




Douglas Frye: Besides the pilot with Dave and Paul, and the series with Paul, Charlene and Analine, I am working on a series about a gorilla who works as a battlefield surgeon during the Civil War. See what I mean about the absurd? This is with Wally Chung and Kirk Howle, two animators that I am friends with who probably have a more twisted sense of humor than me. Plus, I'm finishing/polishing at least a half-dozen other scripts, including a slasher film with a funny gimmick, a horror-prison film, a horror script incorporating things I learned about the fast food industry from Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and a number of others. Mostly I want to make people laugh and hopefully wonder what they were laughing about later. If I can do that I'll be happy.

Icons: Well thank you so much for giving Icons of Fright a chance to talk with you! Congratulations on winning the contest and all the best for you and your future projects! I hope to see you at a convention or a screening where something of your works is being featured! Is there anything you’d like to add before signing off?

Paul Del Vecchio
: I just want to thank Doug Frye and David Doumeng for all the great collaborative work we do together. I also want to thank Robert Rodriguez, Stu Maschwitz and Andrew Kramer. My friends Chaz, Amit, and Jon for all the support. My girlfriend Jaimie for the support and understanding. I love you. George Romero, MySpace, and the Weinstein Company for giving us this opportunity and allowing the world to see our work. We hope we can continue to create opportunities together and work together in the future. Finally, everyone who supported us and continues to support us. We really hope we can continue to bring entertaining films to you guys and hope one day that it will be on a bigger scale so you have easier access to it. Thanks to Icons of Fright for doing this interview and giving us the opportunity to let people know what we’re all about.

Interviewed by: Beth Puttkammer

Visit: http://tripleeproductions.wordpress.com

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