There are movies about filmmaking, and there are documentaries about filmmakers. ZOMBIE GIRL: THE MOVIE is a little of both. This documentary follows filmmaker Emily Hagins on her two year journey to complete her first feature film PATHOGEN, at the age of twelve.
Without getting into comparisons of the documentary of her film and the quality of the actual finished product, the real message behind this movie is something that even veteran Hollywood filmmakers should get behind. If you have a passion for something, don’t let anything get in the way of accomplishing it. Emily wanted to make a movie and she, nor to their credit her parents, stop her from living her dream. This movie illustrates not just Emily’s creative journey, but also the magic of filmmaking as an artform. George Lucas, Ridley Scott, the Coen Brothers would do well to watch this movie as it really captures the essence of filmmaking. It shows the hardship and struggle, but it also illustrates the genuine pureness of unfettered creativity.
Say what you will about her film, but Emily really steps up and takes charge as a director. She might not know what a shot list is, but she knows in her head what she wants to capture on film. Her demeanor is pleasant, her innocence is refreshing, and her ability to get something as complicated as a feature film made at that age is something that everyone can learn from. Another thing that was interesting to see was how involved and supportive her parents were during the process of getting PATHOGEN made. In an age where most parents really shelter their kids from taking chances, and violent horror films are kept out of reach, Emily’s parents, especially her mom, really get behind her, as long as she keeps her schoolwork up anyways. One interesting note about Emily’s mom however, is that there are many times during the film that you can see that she definitely envies Emily. Her mom seems to have always been a creative soul but life got in the way of her accomplishing her dreams. She seems to both live vicariously through Emily, and also wants to jump into her position as director at the same time. This could also just be her way of protecting Emily though. Taking on more and more responsibility on the film as a means to control the output of PATHOGEN, to take the heat and stress of it all off the shoulders of Emily.
It was really great to see how Emily got her cast and crew together, and delightful to see local professionals involving themselves to help Emily out. Her cast all seemed to have fun with the experience (and can be seen in Emily’s other projects as well), and Emily, even at her age, seemed very self-aware about the whole process. Not snobby or pompous in the least. The film ends with her premiere at the Austin Draft House Theater, which must have been a thrilling event for everyone involved, the location being a dream come true for a premiere for any filmmaker.
ZOMBIE GIRL: THE MOVIE should be required viewing at every film school, and would do well to be circulated around Hollywood’s top directors so they can remember what it was once like to be young and have a dream.
ZOMBIE GIRL - THE MOVIE Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - Emily Hagins is making a zombie movie. It's feature-length, it's bloody, and the zombies don't run. Just like it should be. But there's just one difference between her film and every other zombie movie you've ever seen. Emily is twelve.