Director Craig Zobel Talks Z FOR ZACHARIAH at Sundance

     February 3, 2015

craig-zobel-z-for zachariah slice

One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Craig Zobel’s (Compliance) adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s post-apocalyptic 1974 novel Z for Zachariah, written by Nissar Modi. The story revolves around a woman (The Wolf of Wall Street actress Margot Robbie) who believes she is the only survivor after a devastating nuclear event, who meets a scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) searching for survivors. After forming a close bond, another survivor (Chris Pine) appears, complicating matters further.

Unlike a big budget studio film that would be full of explosions and characters trying to figure out how to save humanity, Z for Zachariah is about people trying to stay alive and exist in a new world where a momentary lapse in judgment could mean a quick death.  Loaded with fantastic performances and Zobel’s gentle touch behind the camera, Z for Zachariah was one of the highlight’s of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

z-for-zachariah-margot-robbie-chris-pine-chiwetel-ejioforShortly after seeing the film, I landed an exclusive video interview with Craig Zobel. He talked about what it was like putting together such a dream cast, what the film’s about, whether the project was easier to get going because of The Walking Dead, his alternate first cut, his reaction to Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions picking up the film for distribution, his short film Pills for Fat Possum Records, future projects, and more.

For more on Z for Zachariah, read Matt’s review or watch my video interview with Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie.

As usual, I’ve time indexed the interview to provide an overview of the conversation.

Craig Zobel Time Index:

  • :22 – What was it like to put together a dream cast for the film?
  • 1:17 – Describes what the movie is about.
  • 2:41 – Was the project easier to get going because of The Walking Dead? Talks about how on paper it reads like a crazy post-apocalyptic thriller, but in actuality the film he wanted to make was a drama.
  • 3:31 – How long was his first cut? Says an “Eastern European” version of the film exists with longer takes. Discusses the reaction to that version and how it informed the final edit.
  • 4:57 – Was there one hurdle in the film that was almost impossible to overcome? Talks about trying to find a waterfall location in New Zealand.
  • 6:09 – His reaction when Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions picked it up.
  • 6:36 – Discusses his short film Pills for Fat Possum Records.
  • 7:35 – What’s he doing next? Says he has a big idea that takes place in the tech industry and a smaller thriller that he’s still writing.

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