Todd VanDerWerff interviews the famed astrophysicist.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Written, produced, and directed by the multi-talented Reagan Gomez, the series “Surviving” shows the actress to be as much a tour de force behind the scenes as she is in front of the camera. Independently produced, the series puts people of color front and center as heroes at the start of a zombie pandemic. Gomez’s narrative flows, expanding on the sci-fi/horror premise of “Surviving” by weaving in themes of loss, family, and a ferocious will to live. Veteran, iconic actor Phil Morris (Smallville, Green Lantern) shines alongside newcomer Eyñia Muñoz Turrentine; the casting of Cynthia Kaye McWilliams (Prison Break) and feisty ingénue Zayden Bates as sisters lends the story its chutzpah and heart.
Dark Matters recently caught up with Gomez for a chat about this new addition to the zombie canon.
When did you start filming Surviving?
We started filming Surviving in December 2014.
Can you tell folks a little bit about the premise?
Surviving follows two sisters as they try and survive after a mysterious virus takes over their city. They are forced to flee and soon find out that their scientist father may have had something to do with the virus. They also find out that he’s been kidnapped by the government and those same people are hunting them and want them dead.
You wrote and directed Surviving. Is that a first for you?
I wrote and starred in my first web series Almost Home and also directed season 2.
What inspired the script (the sci-fi/horror aspect as well as the family dynamics, which are pivotal to the larger story)?
I love science fiction, fantasy, and horror. So I wanted to do a show in this genre. And family is always critical in my work. Even Almost Home focused on a brother and sister and how the death of their mother affected them.
The production values are going to blow some minds on Surviving owing to its indie creation and crowdfunding backing. When did you kick off the campaign and how long was it from campaign to putting episode one on deck?
Yes, our production is/was amazing. And yes, we did do crowdfunding, but like Almost Home, 95% of the funding came out of our (me/my husband’s) own pockets. Our crowdfunder ended in late October, I believe. We began pre-production in August and started production in December.
How many episodes were in season one and are you looking to go for season two?
There are seven episodes in season one of Surviving. And we definitely would love to come back for a season two. As soon as we figure out how to pay for it. LOL
What was it like to work with Phil Morris?
Working with Phil Morris was fantastic. I had just come off of doing 33 episodes with him on a TvOne show called Love That Girl. So working with him on that and calling him for this was great.
Tell us about the actress who plays Shayla’s (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) younger sister.
Zayden Bates plays Lucy on our show and she’s fantastic! I reached out to a casting director when we were casting and said we need an amazing actress to play one of the leads. The casting director had just cast her in an indie film named Charlotte. I found her online and immediately knew I wanted her. She came in to read and that was that.
When would you like to see season two hit the Net?
I’d like to start production sooner rather than later. We have no idea how we’re going to fund it, but the universe has helped us figure out how to continue to make web series this far, so we’re trusting that we’ll be able to continue to do it.
Folks can catch up on the first few episodes of “Surviving” on Reagan’s YouTube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/user/ReaganGomez) and a new episode comes out each Tuesday through November on Reagan’s official website (http://reagangomez.com/).
Tonight during the 90-minute episode of “The Walking Dead,” AMC will air the world premiere of the trailer for the network’s upcoming series “Preacher”…