Who would have thought a film would be shot right on UR’s very own campus? As early as 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, students gathered enthusiastically in the Eastman Quadrangle to play extras in junior Jon Noble’s very own production, “Fallen.” Festooned in ominous-colored clothing and bloody makeup, the student-actors loomed around the Quad with gruesome expressions, emulating the behavior of ghastly zombies. With the cooperation of the actors and excellent direction by Noble, the scene was captured with perfection in just four takes. Zombies had begun to come alive on campus!
Noble’s premiere zombie film is centered on the saga of four undergraduates at SUNY West, a fabricated university two miles south of Syracuse, N.Y., who have sought refuge from an insurmountable virus outbreak on campus by locking themselves in a building after being attacked by their deceased peers who have risen from the dead as zombies. The movie focuses on their lives three months subsequent to the attack, following them as they traverse through the intricate tunnel system in attempts to survive and avoid the treacherous zombie-infested campus. The extras were a part of the film’s breathtaking final scene, one that leaves the viewers in utter astonishment and wonder. In the scene, one of the four main protagonists, Mark (played by Martin Cozens) develops “cabin fever” and firmly believes that, after three months, the zombies must have definitely left the confines of campus or died from the dearth of food and supplies available. He thus attempts to persuade his three friends to risk their lives and leave the safety of the tunnel system to check if all is clear.
A heated argument ensues and Mark attacks one of the other students for the keys to the main doors to campus and decides to abandon the others. Mark finally leaves the building and walks out into the tranquil sunlight that floods the outdoors only to be surrounded by masses of undead.
Being an extra myself in the scene along with several others, I was able to truly embrace the mood of the situation Mark was in. Here was a helpless refugee, who, despite his valiant attempts to prove to his companions that the outer world was safe, was being engulfed by zombies. With our arms and legs flailing and faces contorted in horrid expressions, we, the extras, were able to embody the masses of malevolent undead that parasitically invaded the SUNY West campus. The ability to absorb the director’s cues and directions, be on camera and be hands-on in the core of the action of the movie set was an exhilarating and edifying experience.
Noble, over the course of several years, has dabbled in numerous film genres, including drama, comedy and documentary. Many may recognize him from his award-winning previous works (a documentary on the Medical Emergency Response Team and a film entitled “Quartet”) that have been featured on campus, both in Hoyt Auditorium as well as on URTV.
However, upon being asked why he endeavored to produce a horror film, Noble commented with wholehearted honesty. “I love zombie films,” he said. “I love George Romero, and I love how he used the zombie genre to satirize human culture and actions. I wanted to make a zombie film but I wanted to add something to the genre. Disease spreads quickly in colleges with everyone living in such close quarters and the high stress levels. I wanted to explore what might happen to college kids, not fighters or survivors, who managed to survive an outbreak. You could say it’s an attack on the zombie-like state of the student body in college, but honestly, I just wanted to make a zombie movie!”
Noble began devising “Fallen” and authoring the script in the summer of 2007. By the end of September, he had finalized casting. And over the next four months, Noble will be working diligently to complete shooting and production and hopes to release the final version of “Fallen” toward the end of January.
Noble’s passion for the film industry has led him to pursue a career in directing. He has unearthed a niche in this field after participating in internships and film festivals and aspires to continue producing and directing independent films. Noble will be
taking the opportunity to showcase “Fallen” in UR’s Gollin Film Festival, the Scene First National Student Film Festival and the Emerging Filmmakers Series at The Little Theatre Film Society in Rochester, as well as on the River Campus.
The movie’s enrapturing plotline coupled with its masterful production and acting may well render it a success, both in myriad of film festivals as well as right here on campus.
Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.