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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Zombie genre comes to life onscreen and on campus

AggieTV’s first original movie series – BLiND – is making waves. Written and directed by former AggieTV member CJ Hwang, the series premiered its third episode last Friday on the AggieTV Youtube page. The production is a five-part film that focuses on a group of four students attempting to survive a zombie apocalypse on the UC Davis campus. Some students who have seen the series, like second-year environmental science and management major Maverick Bellard, are thoroughly impressed with the film’s moodiness and slick, cinematic style.

“[The film] was intriguing and suspenseful,” Bellard said. “[I was amazed] that it was produced by students; it was far from amateur.”

Instead of making a zombie film that focuses mainly on violence and gore, BLiND takes a more character-driven approach to the genre, illustrating the emotional and psychological state of each survivor. The drama and tension of the series comes not only from the danger of the undead threat, but also from the interpersonal conflicts between the characters.

BLiND’s production manager, Stacy Han, a third-year technocultural studies major and aspiring Hollywood producer, expressed that the focus on the psychology and emotions of the survivors is what led AggieTV to give the film the go-ahead.

“[Director CJ Hwang] really wanted to focus on the human condition and what humans would do during the zombie apocalypse,” Han said. “He really enjoys [exploring the character’s] psychological [state of mind].”

As production manager, Han was tasked with assisting both Hwang and assistant director and third-year human development major Crystal Chen, in making sure the behind-the-scenes work was handled as efficiently as possible. From procuring sets for filming to signing off on budget reimbursements, Han stayed busy throughout the course of the series’ production. According to Han, the most draining aspect of her job wasn’t handling finances or planning premieres.

“[Rescheduling filming] was always a conflict.” Han said. “It was the number one conflict working on BLiND.”

Han went on to express that as a completely student-run production, having to reschedule filming was difficult when considering the time and effort that went into each filming day. This difficulty was further compounded by the academic and social schedules of everyone working on set. Fourth-year technocultural studies major Eugene Arai, who was a sound mixer and Steadicam operator, commented on the strenuousness nature of the schedule.

“[The shooting schedule] was mercilessly strenuous,” Arai said. “[We had schedules that were] ranging from a 10-hour long shoot that started at 5 a.m. and other shoots that ended at 2 a.m. We worked day and night, weekdays and weekends.”

Despite the difficulty in balancing the schedules of a full crew and cast, Han was appreciative of the persistence shown by everyone on set.

“I’m very proud that we were all able to sacrifice a lot of our time and sleep,” Han said. “We [were able to film] everything we wanted.”

Throughout the six-month process behind creating BLiND, the long hours, days and nights that the crew logged together not only led to the creation of a film, but also long-lasting relationships.

“The most rewarding thing about the creation [of BLiND] was the teamwork and love that accumulated within the production crew and actors,” Arai said. “We all still keep in touch.”

For more information on BLiND, the cast and crew,  you can visit http://www.aggietv.org/blind/.

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