Sunday, November 16, 2014


Of all the people that I've talked to for the Camp Counseling, Milan has to be the most fascinating. A native of Serbia, he has slowly been introducing staples of the horror genre that had been eluding the country until as recently as 2007. With Zone of the Dead, who's trailer can be viewed here, and Nymph aka Killer Mermaid, again, the trailer here, he has introduced monsters to a land that had none. He, alone, is leading a movement that I really hope other people jump onto.
Honestly, I just want more people to support this guy more than anything. Just watching his two flicks shows there is talent behind the lens, and the Serbian landscape deserves to be splattered with all kinds of horror and action and the genre trappings we all live for.
You can check out his personal website or follow him on twitter if you want to keep tabs. Dude's fighting his way up a mountain, so please help make it all worth it.
You're pretty much blazing a new path in Serbia and it is super exciting to see your takes on the zombie film and the creature feature. How does it feel to be the man to introduce monsters to Serbia? Why do you think these types of movies had never been made there before? 

Thank you. I must say I feel lonely. I don’t think people understand what I’m trying to do. Apart from my close associates and producing partners, no one else seems to see the potential of these kind of movies. There were some movies in the horror genre made before – some old movies from the director Djordje Kadijevic, and for something more modern, I would point out slasher movie T.T. Sindrome by Dejan Zecevic. But nowadays filmmakers try to make and develop movies that will be approved by state funds, which are, of course, not horror movies. Which is a pity. Because I remember from my academy days a lot of student movies were genre flicks. Also pretty good ones. But there is general opinion that these kind of movies have no artistic value, even filmmakers think my movies are trash movies, which they are not, and the authors are afraid that they will be laughed at or not considered serious if they make a  genre film. Me, I don’t care about critics -- my movies were made to entertain the audience. And I am very proud of them.

How does a project get started for you?  I am not too familiar with the Serbian film industry, and really'd like to hear how a film gets off the ground there.

The usual way is to submit to state fund, which is once a year, and if you get money there, there is a pretty big chance that you will make the movie. The first problem is they give money to 5 or 6 movies, and more than 40 projects compete. The other problem is everybody submits, and normally, the acclaimed directors and producers have much stronger position. The third problem is most of the filmmakers make scripts tailored for the commissions. Like social commentary dramas or something like that, and they don’t really believe in that. Plus, there is no audience for those movies. Bestsellers are comedies, but rarely supported. So it is a mess and a game with very little chance to win with a genre movie. But I tried to make it anyway… and did it. NYMPH was made with very little money, all from private investors. But in the end, state fund gave us some money for post-production. Which was a big deal to give money to a creature feature! I have hoped they would have realized that genre films are healthy for the entire cinema and to reach wide audience worldwide, but I was wrong. On the last fund the commission again ignored us, even though we had even a better project, and gave money to some movies that no one will see nor care about. Not even those who got the money…

You've gotten to work with Franco Nero and Ken Foree already. What is it like to work with genre stalwarts? Do you actively go after the big names to sell the picture?

Both of them are amazing to work with. Such nice people, good guys, great professionals and fantastic actors. It was my honor and my pleasure to work with them. I hope I’ll be able to cast them both in some future feature.  The good thing is that I am really a fan of them and really love their work, so casting the two of them was my dream come true. On the other side, if you want your movie to be noticed you just have to have a name in it. Actors sell. Period. And after so much trouble to make a movie, I just wanted to show it to as many people as possible and good thing I had such cult actors in my movies. For my next feature I will try to also attach an actor I am fan of, but that has some value in the market.

Zone of the Dead was a really great entry in zombie cannon. What a lot of people don't realize is that it was a big deal on youtube, with almost eight million views. How did it feel to have all those eyes on your debut film?

Thank you. Interesting thing is that when I wrote the script and started developing it, there were no zombie movies apart from Resident Evil and 28 Days Later. Since it took so long to make it, cause we didn’t have proper support in the beginning, the year it was released it was just one in dozens of zombie titles. It was in 2009, and there were many zombie movies. I remember being in Sitges festival, and watched a bunch of zombie flicks. The tsunami wave of zombie movies started then, and it is bigger than ever. And still ongoing. The ZONE OF THE DEAD trailer has more than 11 million views in just one channel. Millions and millions of illegal downloads of the movie. And it was released in all the big markets. It was number one independent DVD in the UK when it was out. I still think it had a  chance to reach even wider audience if we got out just a few months before. I just think many people didn't realize that we tried to make an“80s B-Movie,” and all the other movies had a more modern approach. But still, I am very proud of that film, especially knowing all we had to do to make it happen. When somebody in the UK or somewhere else comes to me and know about my movie, or brings me the DVD cover to sign, I am still very surprised. I am very happy that I managed to reach wide audience worldwide, but also I am just a fanboy from a small town in Serbia. Who would know?

Speaking of Zone of the Dead, I know you have a sequel in pre-production. Are there any updates on its status you'd like to share?

Initially it was Ken Foree’s idea to make the sequel. He started talking about it on the set of ZONE. He had so much fun making the movie and he liked the character, he thought there were more stories to explore with it. We had several treatments that were a direct continuation to ZONE, but then we realized it was not such a big hit, and that we should try to reach new audience as well. So we came up with a story that can be appreciated by fans of first one, but also to be stand-alone piece that can be enjoyed even if you haven’t seen the first part. Working title is WRATH OF THE DEAD, and it has some pretty cool stuff in it. Some new approach and a bunch of zombie action. We have shot a prologue scene, and people really liked it. The atmosphere and the zombie and the bug that revives the dead. I am hoping we will have a chance to make it soon. I really like the script, written by Barry Keating and Rich Matthews, and can’t wait to get back to a zombie set.

Budget will be an issue no matter where you make a film, and for how much. On the flip side, the smaller the budget, the more creative you have to be. How has money helped and/or hindered your films?

Well, you never know would it be the same movie if we had more money. I know I needed more time to do the Nymph ending as I have imagined it. But we just didn't have money and we had to shoot everything in just three days. And it was like 30 pages of script for the finale. It was epic. But I like the ending as is now, as well. It is more personal and more dramatic. I like how it was done. 

It’s more about having more time. The crews that have worked on both movies had passion and they were very creative in finding great solutions for things we had to do and didn't have money for. I mean, I would have the same cast, the same crew same locations. I would just love to have had more time to develop and elaborate some scenes and some aspects of the story, that’s it.

I ask everyone this: What do you think makes a perfect action movie?

Badass anti-hero in a good story. Or in a bad story but with good action stunts.

You list John Carpenter as your favorite director and Charles Bronson as one of your favorite actors, as those would be the exact same answers I'd give, congratulations on having good taste. This isn't even a question, I just wanted to throw that out there.

YEAH!! Too bad they didn’t make a movie together. Imagine Bronson in Assault on Precinct 13!  

Bronson actually was almost Snake Plissken! But, speaking of John Carpenter, his influence is very apparent in your work. Have any other masters of the genre guided how you construct your films?

I have graduated on Ridley Scott actually. I think his work is extraordinary. But yeah, Carpenter had most influence in my work. I love John McTiernan and Paul Verhoeven. Also, I would say I really appreciate movies of Paul W.S. Anderson. I think he’s the last boy scout of the Hollywood.  Maybe he’s not the best director in the world, and his movies are not that good either, but I like what’s he doing in the era when there are no more real badassness in Hollywood movies.

The makeup work on the Nymph in the titular film is pretty impressive. How important are practical effects to you versus CGI? I know these days we can't completely avoid it, but I still respect commitment to being practical where possible. 

I would do everything practical if possible. When something is real it’s real. But CGI nowadays is so good and it can also improve practical FX. For example, our creature in Nymph is half practical, half CGI. But CGI was also used to make some additional movements on practical effects and also to enhance them. I believe I would rely more and more on CGI in the future, because then you won’t have limitations to your imagination.

And, finally: what's next for Milan Todorovic? I know earlier I mentioned the Zone of the Dead sequel, but is there anything else brewing that you'd like to talk about? Any other horror sub-genres you want to introduce to Serbia?

Aliens! Terror from space. That’s what I would like to introduce to Serbian cinema. I am personally working on the sequel to Zone of the Dead, but also I have discussed with Franco about doing a crime vengeance movie. We have some ideas, so I will try to develop those too. We also are talking about a Nymph sequel. Franco Nero himself wrote a synopsis which I really like, so if we get a chance to do it, NYMPHS will be based on Franco’s story line.

Really, I was biased the second we started talking about Bronson, as he is the Camp Counseling mascot, but man you can't help but kinda love Milan. He just wants to make cool movies in a place they don't exist, and that is damn admirable.

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