Zombie scourge soon to end in Port Gamble

PORT GAMBLE — As darkness falls, not all is right in Port Gamble. The old fashion mill town has morphed into a tiny island, full of the paranormal and political. Zombies arise out of the shadows at every turn, and navigating the town has become more than tricky, it has turned into a dangerous and deadly task for visitors.

Residents from Kitsap County and beyond have been flocking to Port Gamble to see the mystery and horror in action, and many of them have been turned into zombies courtesy of their curiosity. Not to fear, they will soon resume their normal selves, just as soon as filming on “Zombies of Mass Destruction” wraps up tonight.

The cast and crew from Typecast Films, lead by director Kevin Hamedani and Academy Award nominated producer John Sinno, have been steadily turning Port Gamble into an island of terror during filming for the indie film, which began Oct. 23. The movie, while a horror-filled project, is also a commentary on how Americans have changed since Sept. 11, 2001, and how they may react when faced with a disastrous event. In the film’s case, the terror is given physical form by the zombies, many of whom are being played by local residents.

“So far, we haven’t needed much extras,” Sinno said Monday. “This week will determine how well we do. There has been a lot of interest via e-mail. Overall, it’s been good. We’re expecting 50 to 60 zombies Friday and Saturday.”

He said sometimes the more extras the better, but in the case of Port Gamble, there are also unique logistics to work out, such as having too many extras for each shot and organizing each of them. He and the extras team have created shifts for each group of people, to keep the numbers for takes low and maintain the quality of the scenes. The final shooting this evening will feature a mass of zombies ready to attack anything that moves.

“Personally, for me, I feel like a part of the movie,” said Port Gamble General Store Owner Ethel Molina. She has been working to accommodate the movie’s odd shooting schedule, which has included filming all night. “Anything they want, anything they need, we’re here. Every day is a new day for me. It’s very exciting... We will be feeding the nighttime extras.”

Molina and her cafe staff even created a “Zombie Burger” to celebrate the film. It has been a popular commodity, and she said she plans to keep it on the menu after shooting ends this weekend. The store will work to stay open late, perhaps all night this evening to help feed the scores of extras flocking to Port Gamble. Molina said there aren’t enough restaurants or stores nearby that stay open late, and if someone needs something to eat or drink, there aren’t many options.

“Even though I didn’t get a role in the movie, I feel like I have a role,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m their mom. I feel very happy.”

Port Gamble Manager Shana Smith said the movie filming has been a good learning experience for the town, and did draw some new visitors who heard about it from the radio, news and newspapers. The biggest week was the first, when filming was taking place during the day. Since, the crews have been working through each night to attain the quality desired for the movie, Sinno said.

“I think the impact at night hasn’t been as great,” Smith said. One of the evening shoots included fake gun shots, but she said residents who live in or near Port Gamble didn’t comment on the noise at all. “The store has benefitted and the guest houses have benefitted from the business. I think the coffee stand has and the sign shop, too, which has done some work for them. It’s been a good learning experience for all of us in dealing with the crew.”

“Basically what we’ve had is a lot of cooperation from them,” Sinno said. “There’s like minor issues we’ve had to deal with, but it’s an amazingly nice town that looks great on film. It’s been a huge, wonderful visual set to work with.”

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