Casting call: Dozens turn out to be zombies, actors in film set for Maine

LEWISTON — She came to zombie.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Alendra Harris, second from left, of Auburn waits with other "zombies" for her callback during the open casting call for "How to Kill a Zombie" at the Ramada in Lewiston on Tuesday. From left are Emma Burgess-Roy of Auburn, Harris, Chocorua Morrissette of Cutler and Lindsey Flagg of Livermore Falls. Go to to watch a video of the casting call. 

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jennifer Howlett, left, of Windham turns Sheri Collins of Center Barnstead, N.H., into a zombie. Go to to watch a video of the casting call.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

"Zombies" wait for their opportunity to earn a spot in the film "How to Kill a Zombie" at the Ramada in Lewiston on Tuesday. Go to to watch a video of the casting call.

Alendra Harris, a 20-year-old theater major from Auburn, bought a plaid shirt at Goodwill, lit it on fire, smeared it with fake blood and rubbed it with dirt. She veined up her forehead with blue eyeliner, streaked flour, oil and food coloring on her hands and face, popped in red contacts and took nips off a bottle of red food dye outside the audition room Tuesday morning for "How to Kill a Zombie."

"Half-assed doesn't work," she said.

Her efforts caught filmmakers' attention — after auditioning for a zombie, she was asked to read the part of Tammy. Harris apologized for getting red handprints on the script, not that she needed it. The University of Maine senior had her lines memorized inside of 10 minutes.

"She just crushed it," said Bill McLean, president of Freight Train Films, dressed as his character, Mack. All morning long, he walked people up and down the hall at the Ramada Inn toward its small second-floor theater.

More than 75 people turned out to an open casting call for "How to Kill a Zombie," a mix of would-be zombies, regional actors and people looking for their first shot on film. McLean plans to shoot around Maine this fall. The zombie action comedy built around a father (Mack) and son (Jesse) bonding after a zombie apocalypse will be Freight Train Film's second feature-length movie.

On Tuesday, filmmakers were casting for up to 200 zombie extras and 13 main roles.

People came from Kennebunk, Buckfield, Lewiston and New Hampshire. Some arrived in character, some with accessories.

"Here for the zombie stuff?" McLean asked a man carrying a tackle box, a field hockey stick slung over his shoulder.

He was.

Inside the theater, actors read through quick scenes with McLean and his son, Ben McLean, who co-stars as Jesse. Four people sat with scorecards grading each performance on traits like focus and believability.

"I'm not looking for the perfect zombie," assistant director P. Seth Roberts said. It's the cumulative mix of movement, facial expression and moaning that mattered.

"I watched 'Shaun of the Dead' last night to find my inner zombie," said Julie Snell, 52, from Lewiston, after lurching and jerking around undead on stage. "Relax, don't use your knees. Zombies have a brain just above freezing."

She tried out with a friend, Donald Charest, and thought her kids would get a kick out of her being there.

"I'm all about trying to experience everything I can," Snell said.

Charest's zombie motivation? "Just trying to act not alive."

By 4 p.m., 75 people had turned out. Roberts said he was optimistic about passing 100 with more people getting out of work and school and auditions scheduled until 8 p.m. He was happy with the talent walking, or lurching, through the door.

A costume designer who has appeared in several plays, Harris said it was her first time auditioning for a movie. The Tammy character was described in filmmakers' material as "drop dead gorgeous, must be able to scream."

"I was a little nervous," she said. "I want to be a voice actor so I want to make as many connections as possible."

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RONALD RIML's picture

Remember 1968 "Night of the Living Dead?"

The Zombie all the way to the left is a friend of mine in Boothbay, and one hell of a piano player!!!


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