Reviving the first zombie: Kickstarter project to finish ‘Lazarus’ film
BEMIDJI -- As billions of people around the world prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, a Bemidji man dreams of breathing new life into “Lazarus.”
“Lazarus” is a Bemidji-born zombie film that has been in the making for almost a decade. Mike Bredon, Executive Director of UpStream TV, has launched a Kickstarter project to help revive the independent film which he stars in and directs.
“Over seven years ago, I had a period of my life where I was having just constant nightmares and I was really plagued by them,” Bredon said. A lost love and the death of his mother contributed to the apocalyptic-themed dreams.
Bredon’s brother, Danny, and his father, James Wolfe Bredon, star alongside him in the film. His father has since passed away, just four months ago.
Gary Burger, a renowned local artist, musician and Mayor of Turtle River, was instrumental in production of “Lazarus.” Bredon recalls Burger telling him he’d better get the movie done before he died. Burger died at age 70 on March 14.
There are 21 days left on the Kickstarter project. Bredon said support starts locally and spreads outward. He said it’s known the producers of the “Sopranos” have connections in Bemidji and the new “Fargo” series is also spotlighting the city.Bredon wants to put Bemidji on the map in regard to cinema. In order to do that, he needs to finish “Lazarus.”
“‘Lazarus’ is an ode to the first zombie, basically where it all would stem from,” Bredon said. “Due to the fact that ‘Lazarus’ is bringing something back to life, it speaks volumes to me and I think it should speak volumes to everyone in Bemidji.”
A community collaboration
“Lazarus” has taken to the streets of Bemidji during the annual Zombie Pub Crawl. During the crawl in October, a music video was shot outside the American Legion on Minnesota Ave. and 2nd Street which will likely be incorporated into the film.
Bredon said the Zombie Pub Crawl is an outlet to get people out into the community and support local businesses. He said the “Lazarus” film will add to that support by recruiting tourists.
“I’m really interested in supporting the tourist industry,” Bredon said.
“They say that’s our backbone,” actor Fran O’Brien added.
O’Brien portrays a Mark Twainesque zombie in “Lazarus.” O’Brien’s make-up was done locally as well.
“She made me look the worst I’ve ever looked,” O’Brien said of make-up artist Dawn Eve.
All scenes, aside from shots from in a church in Darling, were filmed in Bemidji.
Lara Gerhardson and Jeremiah Liend are credited with adapting Bredon’s nightmare tales into a screenplay. Bredon’s films have reached Los Angeles in the past, but “Lazarus” is expected to go all the way, he said.
“Lazarus” will premier at Bemidji’s Chief Theatre with three showings. From there, Bredon plans to take the film on a festival tour including the Fargo Film Festival, provided the project generates enough financial support to be completed. Contributors of $10 or more will receive a DVD.
The Kickstarter goal is $30,000. More than $30,000 has already been put into the film. Funds raised will be put into color correction and sound. Bredon said a crew based out of Cass Lake will be working on finalizing the sound design and editing.
“It really would not be finished the way it should be if the Kickstarter project doesn’t come through,” Bredon said. “In order for the Kickstarter to reach $30,000, serious investors need to be attracted.”
Currently, the film is 85 minutes long. Over a span of five years, more than 800 hours of footage has been shot and edited.
Bredon acknowledged the Kickstarter project is a call for people to support the film monetarily, but added it’s also asking for support for the community.
“This is Bemidji’s film more so than it is my own,” Bredon said. “For Gary, for Bemidji and for myself it has to be done right. And for my father.”