By David Dent
Collis’ exhaustive, at times almost shot by shot account of the events leading up to, filming and subsequent marketing of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ leaves very few stones unturned to deliver what must be the definitive history of this ground-breaking movie.
The background to the creation of the film is examined at length, via an appreciation of the careers and serendipitous professional mingling of director Edgar Wright and key stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Wright’s evident early genius seems to take everyone by surprise except the director himself, and Collis is at pains to present a rounded view of these people: Wright’s mercurial but obsessive and at times dark personality; Pegg’s general nice blokeness cut with depression and alcoholic binges; and Frost’s brilliant ability to mimic but also his almost pathological slovenliness.
There are sections on the financing of the film which surprisingly achieve a level of tension; you know that the film got made but for a while financially it’s touch and go. And all the while the spectre of the often dim perception of the British comedy film provides the project with as many detractors and supporters.
The chapter on the shoot itself is a fascinating warts and all look at the process of creating a feature film, and the challenge of a director who has storyboarded everything being able to translate his vision into actual footage. There’s a fascinating ongoing account through the book of the tensions between Wright, who expected everyone on set to be almost evangelically enthused about the project, and his cinematography crew who were very much of the 8 – 6, everything stops for tea school. Obviously, the end coda to this is that a fantastic film was made, but the passion and drive, not to mention the difficulties of filming in midsummer under hot lights in heavy make up, show through in every chapter of Collis’ very fine tome.
Strongly recommended not only for fans of the film but anyone interested in the end-to-end process of making a movie.
You’ve Got Red on You: How Shaun of the Dead Was Brought to Life by Clark Collis released in hardback and e-book formats.