Birth of the Living Dead

Dir. Rob Kuhns (2013 76 min)

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“Birth of the Living Dead,” a new documentary, shows how Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers — policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner — to shoot, with a revolutionary guerrilla, run-and-gun style, his seminal film.


Owen Gleiberman Oct 16, 2013

Rob Kuhns’ marvelous doc about the making of Night of the Living Dead looks at all the ways one low-budget, flesh-eating horror movie changed the world. It’s full of juicy anecdotes that detail how George A. Romero made necessity into the mother of nightmare invention, and EW’s Mark Harris and NPR’s Elvis Mitchell eloquently testify to how Night forged a new age of socially relevant horror almost by accident. (Also available on iTunes and VOD)

Grade: A


Andy Webster November 5, 2013

In 1967, George Romero, a Bronx-born 27-year-old transplanted to Pittsburgh, shot a cheap independent movie in rural Pennsylvania. The film, “Night of the Living Dead,” became a horror classic, spawning sequels and helping to inspire the vogue for zombies raging on television and in multiplexes. Rob Kuhns’s informative documentary “Birth of the Living Dead” recounts the risks, improvisation and innovation that went into the movie’s production.

Mr. Romero, who previously had shot commercials and segments for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” praises and vividly describes his inexperienced cast and crew, locals who held multiple jobs on the set, many playing zombies.

The gore — a meatpacker supplied animal guts for the human viscera — was shocking for its time, and fed the film’s notoriety, as did stark depictions of fratricide and parricide. But perhaps its most resonant element was the fate of Ben (Duane Jones), the sole survivor of a zombie siege on a country house. Ben, who is black (though not originally written as such), is shot dead by sheriffs; to 1960s audiences, the evocation of police abuses in civil right marches was unmistakable.

There are too many predictable talking heads here — including the critics Elvis Mitchell and Jason Zinoman(past and present critics for The New York Times) andMark Harris — and, alas, no Pittsburgh participants aside from the director. But Mr. Romero, manifesting a self-effacing demeanor and sensible humanity, is a most agreeable raconteur. He can rest assured knowing that “Night of the Living Dead,” now in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, shall never die.


Joshua Rothkopf Nov 4 2013

George A. Romero’s 1968 seismic Night of the Living Dead has long since lumbered its way into the hearts of zombie fans and social critics who thrilled to its America-on-fire subtext. Can there be even more to dig up under the desiccated surface? Rob Kuhns’s jam-packed analysis—several grades better than a DVD extra—has the appetite to find it. Here, says director Larry Fessenden, is horror’s first in-joke (“They’re coming to get you, Barbara…”), a wink with a payoff more brutal than any Scream gag. And how refreshing it is to note that not only was lead actor Duane Jones black, but a wholly different kind of hero than well-behaved Sidney Poitier; Night begot Shaft and Super Fly.

Kuhns makes time for political insights, provocative montages of race riots cut with the movie’s hick militia, and the comments of owlish Romero himself, who recounts the shoot like the enthusiastic 27-year-old he was. Wildest is a classroom of Bronx kids learning literacy (and proper stomping) via the film’s power.


Ernest Hardy

“RIVETING… JAW-DROPPING… GLORIOUS. What distinguishes this doc from much of the tedious critical prose Romero has inspired is the fan-boy and fan-girl ardor that fuels its smarts–both behind and in front of the camera. Interview subjects, from producer Gale Anne Hurd (who says she drew heavily from the film in creating the cable TV hit The Walking Dead) to various film scholars, directors, and critics, all key their commentary into the film’s visceral power and the unpretentious intelligence behind it. An utterly charming figure who often ends his sentences with “man,” Romero fills in behind-the-scenes tales that likely haven’t been heard by many before, and they are riveting; his story of the film’s copyright battle is jaw-dropping.”


Gary Goldstein October 17, 2013

The documentary “Birth of the Living Dead” is a nifty little tribute to that granddaddy of the modern zombie movie, George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Writer-director-editor Rob Kuhns (he also produced with wife, Esther Cassidy) enjoyably recounts how, in 1967, Romero and an assortment of Pittsburgh locals shot a micro-budget chiller that would unexpectedly change the face of horror films.

The shocking “Night,” which Romero shot, edited, co-wrote and directed, spawned an endless parade of zombie pictures — including numerous made by Romero himself — along with comic books, video games and TV shows such as current hit “The Walking Dead.”

Kuhns intriguingly explores how “Night” so aptly mirrored its time period — that tense, chaotic era of racial unrest, anti-Vietnam War sentiment and an increasingly anti-authoritarian vibe. That the subtext-heavy movie’s lead hero, although written colorblind, was portrayed by an African American actor (Duane Jones) proved especially groundbreaking.

Filled with lively, candid interview clips with a jaunty Romero, plus smart chats with film critics, authors, filmmakers and others, “Birth” efficiently tracks “Night’s” guerrilla-style production, roller-coaster theatrical release, wildly varied critical response and eventual status as a highly profitable — if accidentally copyright-impaired — cult classic.

Footage of a Bronx, N.Y., schoolteacher showing youngsters “Night” for a Literacy Through Film class is also fun. But talk of Romero’s post-“Night” career, as well as new testimony from the film’s other original participants (nice postscript with “graveyard zombie” player Bill Hinzman aside), is surprisingly scarce.


Jeff Shannon October 17, 2013

It’s only fitting that “Birth of the Living Dead” is playing at the University District’s Grand Illusion as Halloween draws near. It’s there that George Romero’s classic, prototypical zombie film “Night of the Living Dead,” has played every year for decades in late October, one of Seattle’s longest-running movie traditions.

As its title suggests, “Birth” sets out to chronicle the origins of Romero’s 1968 film, but what first appears to be a standard “making of” feature becomes a more ambitious combination of historical perspective and socio­political commentary. Romero himself is the film’s highlight, appearing relaxed and funny in an entertaining interview. But with only one exception (a posthumous after-credits tribute to “graveyard zombie” Bill Hinzman), none of the film’s cast members are interviewed.

Instead, director Rob Kuhns applies experience from working on PBS’ “Moyers & Company” to place “Night of the Living Dead” in the tumultuous context of 1968, focusing on racial tensions and Romero’s provocative, matter-of-fact casting of an African American (the late Duane Jones) in “Night’s” lead role. By foregoing any mention of race, Romero assured that “Night,” which was initially rejected by most critics, would ultimately be recognized as an influential classic.

In addition to scenes of students enthusiastically responding to “Night of the Living Dead” in a classroom context, Kuhns also includes personal recollections from critics Elvis Mitchell and Mark Harris, “The Walking Dead” producer Gale Ann Hurd, horror director Larry Fessenden and others. Some choice production details (like “Night’s” 1967 budget of $114,000) will engage trivia buffs; and, by placing Romero’s film at the epicenter of its volatile era, “Birth of the Living Dead” pays wide-ranging tribute to an enduring pop-cultural milestone.


Dean Galanis September 20, 2013

Fascinating, hugely entertaining documentary chronicles the making of the classic George Romero-helmed horror film, Night of the Living Dead, while also tracing its lineage, its colossal influence on (and as the title indicates, creation of) the zombie sub-genre, and analysis of its cultural import.

The film features commentary and remembrances by respected filmmakers and critics, among them Larry Fessenden, Gale Anne Hurd and Elvis Mitchell, but the big fun here is Romero himself.

Ever the frank (and often hilarious) raconteur, Romero brings warmth, bemusement, pride and a smattering of (justified) bitterness to the mix, as Birthexamines the film’s genesis, production and troubled distribution.

There are also trenchant observations about the film’s place in time, as its imagery at times invokes newsreel footage of the Vietnam War, political assassinations, and racial strife in the late 1960s.

Some of these points have been made many times before – even in another excellent documentary, The American Nightmare – but these reflections, as collected here, still feel fresh and vital, and neither these views – nor Birth as a whole – could be criticized as merely regurgitation.

One of the more interesting surprises herein is Christopher Cruz, a filmmaker/teacher who, as part of his curriculum, teaches a Literacy Through Film program to kids in the Bronx (which is where Romero grew up, incidentally). We’re shown the kids’ reactions to watching NOTLD – Cruz was wary that the kids would laugh at it – and they seem riveted and thrilled. Their reactions afterward prove they not only paid attention but had their imagination stirred, completely justifying Cruz’s surprising choice of film to screen for kids!

At 76 minutes, Birth flies by, not wearing out its welcome while also never feeling rushed or choppy. Part of this success must go to Gary Pullin’s animated sequences, which serve as a fun and clever way of standing in for behind-the-scenes footage. Pullin does a fine job here; these kinds of animated bridges do not always work in documentaries. Just take a look at American: The Bill Hicks Story if you have any doubt. So, kudos to Pullin on his work here.

And kudos as well to director/editor Rob Kuhns. He’s crafted a spot-on, ingratiating, informative film that should be appeal to the died-in-the-wool horror fanatic who’s read and seen everything NOTLD, as well as the interested newbie. This is easily one of my favorites of 2013 so far.


Brian M. Sammons

Playing the film festival circuit right now is a new documentary about what is arguably the single most influential movie (not horror movie, but overall movie) in the last 50 years or so, Night of the Living Dead. What, you think I’m overstating things a bit? Name another movie from that period that spawned its own subgenre, and if you can do that, name one that was as far reaching as this one. Can you really do that? Now, in this age were zombies are everywhere and have invaded movies, TV shows, books, video games, cartoons, commercials, toys, t-shirts, etc. etc. etc. Before Night of the Living Dead there were no zombies, at least not as we know them now. After NotLD, the horrorverse was changed forever. The ramifications of that one, micro-budget, independent movie are still keenly felt today. Hell, its offspring is more popular now than ever before. That’s something that even much more vaunted game-changing movies, like Star Wars for example, can’t claim. And all that, this entire wave of zombie love that has washed over the world, can trace its way back to Night of the Living Dead. Maybe that’s why there are so many documentaries about that film. Well here is the latest one. Is it worth a watch by more than the most diehardDeadheads? Does it have anything new to say after all these years?

Thankfully the answer to both questions is yes.

Unlike some other docs, this one solely focuses just the one …of the Dead film, the one that started it all. The star of the show here is, appropriately, George A. Romero as he gets the most of the airtime. Sadly, none of the others who were involved with making Night are seen here at all. Sure, some of them have passed away, but there are still others who are alive and well and their absence here is a bit of a downer. That being said, it is the only down side to this movie that I can think of, so that tells you something about how good the rest of it is.

Birth of the Living Dead focuses on all aspects of Night of the Living Dead. From the time before it was even a thought in anyone’s head, to the stuff that influenced the story behind it, to all the obstacles that the filmmakers had to overcome just to get it on film, and then all the trials and tribulations that came afterward. However, where this movie really shines is looking at the social and political turmoil that was rife in America when Night was being made and how that influenced and was reflected in the groundbreaking movie. I mean, you’ve always heard about the ‘deeper meaning’ behind Night of the Living Dead, well this documentary fully explores all that and so much more.

In addition to Romero, various experts pop up here to give their opinions on the film and its relevance in both cinema and social history. Actor/director Larry Fessenden, super producer extraordinaire Gale Anne Hurd, film critic and radio host Elvis Mitchell, film editor Samuel D. Pollard and more all chime in here. Additionally, news footage and scenes from Night of the Living Dead itself fill out the rest of this documentary.

If you’re a fan of zombies in any way, shape, or form, you need to watch this movie. Night of the Livingdead is where it all started folks, there’s no denying that, and this film is one of the most extensive, informative, and even entertaining looks at that film. As such, consider it very highly recommended.


Jason Bailey October 19, 2012

In 1967, a 27-year-old college dropout and industrial filmmaker named George A. Romero assembled a ramshackle cast and crew of friends, associates, and clients, rented a farmhouse in the sticks, and made Night of the Living Dead–“this tiny little movie in Pittsburgh,” notes historian Jason Zinoman, that “changed the world.” That sounds like a tall claim for a low-budget horror picture, but in his new documentary Year of the Living Dead, director Rob Kuhns mounts a convincing case.

The film is part biography, part behind-the-scenes feature, and part sociological study. We’re introduced to Romero, whose Pittsburgh production company made industrials, commercials, and even some of the outside-the-studio films on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. (We get a glimpse of one, “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy,” which Romero notes “remains one of the scariest movies I’ve ever done.”) He initially wanted to make his feature filmmaking debut with a Bergman-esque art drama, but quickly realized that they’d be better off making a horror movie–something a little more commercial. They got that, all right.

The stories of how they scraped the movie together out of spit and scotch tape and ingenuity are fascinating, and Romero tells them well–much of Year of the Living Dead‘s first half is him holding court entertainingly, a grinning charmer with giant glasses and a hearty laugh. He’s told these stories for decades, but he’s not tired of them, and the doc also fills in some of the casual fan’s lingering questions about the pictures’s making and release (like how it ended up playing those kids’ matinees, and the remarkable blunder that put it into the public domain). But that would make this a fine DVD featurette, and little more. Kuhns pushes further, exploring Night of the Living Dead in its most compelling form: as a metaphor and commentary on then-current events.

Because those current vents have now become history, the filmmaker and his interview subjects provide extensive context for the film–the things we take for granted now, but which made it so revolutionary at that particular moment. He pulls together a marvelous trio of film writers to talk about the picture’s environment and influence: the aforementioned Zinoman, who wrote last year’s terrific Shock Value; Mark Harris, author of the brilliant chroniclePictures at a Revolution; and the always insightful Elvis Mitchell.

Their discussion is wide-ranging, from the casting of African-American actor Duane Jones in the leading role as subtle subversion of both conventional treatment of black people in film and the Poitier factor, of the authenticity of the newscasts and the unnervingly real quality it lent the film, the influence of Vietnam War and Civil Rights imagery on the lean, pseudo-documentary look of the film. Much of the Night playbook became standard for not only horror films but mainstream storytelling in the decade that followed, but such elements as the enigmatic nature, the anything-goes morality, and the subversion of narrative exposition are here pinpointed as the innovations they were.

Night, and many of the great films of the 1970s that followed it, offered no comfort for the audience (“There’s always the refreshment stand!” Romero counters cheerfully). As with many groundbreaking films, much of what it does has been so often duplicated that it’s become hard to appreciate the source. Night of the Living Dead has been separated from its time, and one of the finest qualities of Year of the Living Dead is how expertly it positions the picture back within that framework. It’s a slender effort that doesn’t overstay its welcome (and even at that, a couple of its digressions–like the visits to a Bronx classroom–don’t really work). Its aim is simple: to trace the history of this remarkable film, and to remind us of how truly original it was. Mission accomplished.



In 1968 a young college drop-out named George A. Romero directed “Night of the Living Dead,” a low budget horror film that shocked the world, became an icon of the counterculture, and spawned a zombie industry worth billions of dollars that continues to this day.

“Birth of the Living Dead,” a new documentary, shows how Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers — policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner — to shoot, with a revolutionary guerrilla, run-and-gun style, his seminal film. During that process Romero and his team created an entirely new and horribly chilling monster – one that was undead and feasted upon human flesh.

This new documentary also immerses audiences into the singular time in which “Night” was shot.  Archival footage of the horrors of Vietnam and racial violence at home combined with iconic music from the 60s invites viewers to experience how Romero’s tumultuous film reflected this period in American history.  “Birth of the Living Dead” shows us how this young filmmaker created a world-renowned horror film that was also a profound insight into how our society really works.




“Birth of the Living Dead” was shot in New York City, Toronto and Los Angeles between the end of 2006 and the Summer of 2011.  It is directed by Rob Kuhns, who has been editing documentaries in New York since 1987.  It is produced by Kuhns and his wife, Esther Cassidy, who also collaborated on the documentary, “Enemies of War,” that told the story of El Salvador’s bloody civil war as seen through the eyes of a U.S. Congressman, a U.S. Ambassador, an American priest, and an FMLN guerilla fighter and his family. “Enemies of War” was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2001, and was selected for the Los Angeles and Chicago Latino Film Festivals, the City of Angels Film Festival, and won awards at the Columbus Film Festival and Chicago International Film Competition.

Kuhns has been a fan of Romero’s work since the early 1980s when he first saw “Night of the Living Dead” at a midnight show.  “Night” had been playing regularly in theaters in New York since it first came out in 1968.  Before considering making a documentary, Kuhns read about Romero and became fascinated with the story of the making of “Night.”   Here was this crew of mostly working class people, not very experienced in filmmaking and with very few resources, coming together to make a seminal and world-shaking film.  It was a great story of a “little-movie-that-could.”

After extensive interviews with George A. Romero in Toronto, Kuhns started editing the documentary.  Kuhns’ previous experience working as an Editor for “Bill Moyers Journal” and later on “Moyers and Company” gave him the opportunity to explore the powerful archival images of American history in the 1960’s.  Kuhns surveyed television news stories of the racial violence exploding across the country and horrific combat footage of the Vietnam War.  He also saw the U.S. government responses to both. Kuhns realized that Romero and his collaborators created “Night of the Living Dead,” a film about the world coming to an end, at a historic time of enormous U. S. upheaval.  “Night” was revealing itself as a living document of the time in which it was made.

Romero, “There was a good deal of sort of anger.  Mostly that the 60s didn’t work.  You know, we thought we had changed with world or were part of some sort of a reform that was going to make things better.  And all of a sudden it wasn’t any better.  It wasn’t any different.”

Once Kuhns illuminated the historical context, his new documentary evolved into something much richer than the “making of” film that he originally envisioned.  Michael Winship, head writer for “Bill Moyers Journal,” recommended Mark Harris’ highly-praised book, “Pictures at a Revolution,” which looked at the cultural and political context of the films that were nominated for the Academy Award in 1968, the same year “Night” was released.  Harris spoke about how intricately and complexly “Night” is connected to that moment in history and about the many radical choices Romero made which redefined the horror film.  Kuhns added Harris’ remarkable take on “Night of the Living Dead” to the documentary.

Filmmaker Larry Fessenden, who has been compared with Romero for his thoughtful horror films, provided another key interview.  He also speaks about some of the radical choices Romero made to create such a groundbreaking horror film:

When you play with the expectations of the classic structure, and then you defy them and the wrong person gets killed.  This is what’s upsetting, that’s what haunts, that’s  what creates a feeling of dread.” 

Critic Elvis Mitchell first saw the film when he was 10 at a Drive-In Theater in Detroit, soon after his city experienced racial violence.


“If there had been more resources devoted to the movie, and more consideration, and if it wasn’t like run and gun filmmaking,  It was like hearing Public Enemy for the first time, or for my parent’s generation seeing Elvis Presley for the first time.  It’s just that kind of, oh my God, that electricity.”

Chiz Schultz, producer of Harry Belafonte’s TV specials in the late 60s, discusses how revolutionary it was for Romero to cast a black actor, Duane Jones, in the lead but to also never have his race referred to or mentioned in the film.  Schultz, who also produced “Ganja and Hess,” a dramatic film also starring Duane Jones, was a first-hand witness to the racism of the 60s.  During the rehearsal of one of Belafonte’s shows, singer Petula Clark touched Belafonte’s arm, which caused a sponsor to demand there be no physical contact between them.  Race and the casting of Jones is a major theme and is discussed by all of the interviewees.

Sam Pollard, a documentary director, producer of Spike Lee’s documentaries, and a film professor at NYU, analyzes the film’s plot and structure and also offers a historical perspective.


”There was a sense of chaos and sense of tension in the American fabric which means things are going to change.  So I think that what Romero was doing with “Night of the Living Dead”   points to this unraveling.”

Film Critic and Author of “Shock Value,” Jason Zinoman, explores Romero’s film’s enormous influence and the seminal creation of the zombie, now one of the most popular monsters in horror films.


“All these zombies all go back to Romero.  There’s no movie director that’s responsible for the vampire.  There’s no movie director that’s responsible for Frankenstein.  There’s no movie director that’s responsible for the Werewolf… …What we know of as a zombie, the “it’s alive” moment of it was, 1968, George Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ in Pittsburgh.”


Living legend Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer of “Walking Dead,” as well as Producer of “The Terminator” and “Aliens” explains how the zombies in “Night”, as well as its mythology, are the basis of her hit show.  Hurd got her start with Roger Corman and also speaks about what it’s like to make a film with little experience and no money.

Romero takes us through his efforts to get the film distributed – it did not ignite a bidding war – and the ferocious attacks on “Night” by U.S. critics when first released.  Variety, for instance, called it, “an unrelieved orgy of sadism” which “casts serious aspersions on the integrity and social responsibility of its Pittsburgh-based makers.”


That all changed when the film went to Europe where it received huge box office and lavish praise from prestigious film journals like “Positif” and “Sight and Sound.”   “Night of the Living Dead” was eventually invited to become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


In spite of the enormous success of the film worldwide, Romero and his partners got only a small fraction of the profits.  The distributor accidentally removed the copyright notice from the negative and “Night” fell into the public domain.  The film went viral, with pirated copies playing worldwide.  There’s no way to know how much money it has made.

The documentary ends with a tribute to and interview with Bill Hinzman, who played the “graveyard zombie” – the first zombie in the film, and the first one built on Romero’s mythology, which spawned so many imitators. Hinzman is shown at a zombie convention at the Monroeville Mall, PA, not far from where “Night of the Living Dead” was shot.  He’s surrounded by adoring fans, many of whom were born decades after the film was made.

When asked how he feels about all of the attention, Hinzman says, Sometimes, I really do blush I think under the make up because it’s really kind of embarrassing.  I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of actors are always afraid they’ll get discovered that they don’t have any talent or anything.  And sometimes I feel that way.  I’m a little embarrassed because every Sunday night I have to take the damn garbage out (laugh), and on the way out I’ll go, “I’m a legend!  What the hell am I taking the damn garbage out for?!”  (Laugh)  Why aren’t I rich?  But that’s, that’s life!  But it’s so much fun to do these things.  My wife kicks me out every once in a while and says, “Go to one of those events.  Get your ego built back up again.”  I say, ‘Okay.’”

George A. Romero, Filmmaker: 

1968’s Night of the Living Dead was just the beginning of George A. Romero’s enduring contributions to American film. Over the next 40+ years, he has written and directed several dozen movies. Especially noteworthy among his films are: The Crazies (1973); Martin (1978);Knightriders (1981) and Creepshow (1982), which are still exhibited in film festivals and prestigious venues throughout the country. The films for which Romero attained international and lasting acclaim include those that introduced an unprepared world to a zombie apocalypse —Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2009) andSurviving of the Dead (2010). Currently, Romero is Executive Producer of the 2012 documentary, Into the Dark: Exploring Horror Films. In 2009, Romero was honored with the Mastermind Award at Spike TV’s Scream 2009. The tribute was presented by longtime Romero fan Quentin Tarantino, who stated in his speech that the “A” in George A. Romero stood for “A f***ing genius.”

Mark Harris, Author: 

Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the year and Booklist magazine’s best nonfiction book of 2008. For fifteen years, Harris worked as a writer and editor covering movies, television and books for Entertainment Weekly, where he now writes the back page column, “Final Cut.” He has written about pop culture for several other magazines as well. A graduate of Yale University, he lives in New York City with his husband, playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner.

Larry Fessenden, Filmmaker: 

Larry Fessenden, winner of the 1997 Someone to Watch Spirit Award, is the writer, director and editor of the award-winning art-horror movies Habit (Nominated for 2 Spirit Awards), Wendigo and No Telling. His most recent film, The Last Winter (Nominated for a 2007 Gotham Award for best ensemble cast), starring Ron Perlman, Connie Britton and James Le Gros, premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, was distributed by IFC FirstTake and is now available on DVD through Genius Products. Fessenden recently directed Skin and Bones, starring Doug Jones, for NBC TV’s horror anthology show FEAR ITSELF.

Gale Anne Hurd, Producer: 

Gale Anne Hurd joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became involved in production. She formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, in 1982 and went on to produce a number of box-office hits including The Terminator (1984), and Aliens (1986). In 1998, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. She is currently Executive Producing the AMC drama series The Walking Dead. In 2003, she was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology at Telluride, Colorado along with Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

Elvis Mitchell, Host, The Treatment: 

Elvis Mitchell is a former critic for The New York Times (1998 – 2004). In the late 1980s, Mitchell was part of a short-lived PBS show called The Edge. Mitchell is currently the host of KCRW’s pop culture and film interview program The Treatment. He is also an occasional film critic/commentator for Weekend Edition on NPR. In 2008, Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence began airing on Turner Classic Movies. On the program Mitchell interviews actors and directors about their favorite classic films.

Sam Pollard, Filmmaker/Professor, NYU Film:

Sam Pollard’s professional accomplishments as a feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director span almost thirty years. He recently served as Executive Producer on the documentary Brother Outsider, Official Selection 2003 Sundance Film Festival. His first assignment as a documentary producer came in 1989 for Henry Hampton’s Blackside production Eyes On The Prize II: America at the Racial Crosswords. For one of his episodes in this series he received an Emmy. Eight years later, he returned to Blackside as Co-Executive Producer/Producer of Hampton’s last documentary series I’ll Make Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community. For the series, Mr. Pollard received The George Peabody Award. Between 1990 and 2000, Mr. Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, Bamboozled. As well, Mr. Pollard and Mr. Lee co-produced a couple of documentary productions for the small and big screen: Spike Lee Presents Mike Tyson, a biographical sketch for HBO for which Mr. Pollard received an Emmy, and Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1965 Birmingham church bombings which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Chiz Schultz, Film and TV Producer:

Chiz Schultz has more than thirty years’ experience producing motion pictures and live, taped and filmed television programs. His productions have won the ACE Award, Peabody Award, International Documentary Association Award, New York Film & Television Award, San Francisco International Film Award and the Ohio State University Award. His productions have received Academy Awards, EMMY and ACE nominations. Among his many credits is the Academy Award winning film, A Soldier’s Story.

Jason Zinoman, Critic:

Jason Zinoman is a critic and reporter for The New York Times. He is currently the paper’s first comedy critic, and has covered theater there for a decade. His book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror is now out in paperback. He has also regularly written about movies, television, books and sports for publications such as Vanity FairThe Guardian and Slate. He was the chief theater critic forTime Out New York before leaving to write the On Stage and Off column in the Weekend section of the New York Times.

Rob Khuns, Writer/Producer/Director/Editor

Birth of the Living Dead is Rob’s first feature length documentary as a Director. He Co-Directed/Edited two broadcast documentaries,Enemies of War (PBS, 2001) and This is a Game, Ladies (PBS, 2003, Audience Award – AFI Silverdoc Festival). His many editing credits include Moyers and Company (2011 – Present), the dramatic television series Sleeper Cell (Showtime, Golden Globe nomination, 2005), and Adam Clayton Powell (Academy Award nomination, 1990). Rob Wrote and Directed the short comedy, King’s Day Out, (1993 Sundance Film Festival). This year he received an individual artist grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. Rob lives in Brooklyn with his wife and producing partner, Esther Cassidy.

Esther Cassidy, Producer

Esther produced and directed the documentaries: Enemies of War broadcast nationally on PBS, and in Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, and The Wrong Man: The Case of Edward Lee Elmore for Court Television. She was Coordinating Producer of American Dream, Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award-winning documentary feature, and also produced with Ms. Kopple: With Liberty And Justice For AllJustice For All; and Civil Rights: The Struggle Continues. She was Consulting Producer on the Peabody award-winning broadcast documentary A Healthy Baby Girl (2006); and the 2007 theatrical documentary Sacco and Vanzetti, which has been shown in theaters and film festivals in the U.S., Holland, and Italy.

Larry Fessenden, Executive Producer 

Larry Fessenden, winner of the 1997 Someone to Watch Spirit Award, is the writer, director and editor of the award-winning art-horror movies Habit (Nominated for 2 Spirit Awards), Wendigo and No Telling. His most recent film, The Last Winter (Nominated for a 2007 Gotham Award for best ensemble cast), starring Ron Perlman, Connie Britton and James Le Gros, premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, was distributed by IFC FirstTake and is now available on DVD through Genius Products. Fessenden recently directed Skin and Bones, starring Doug Jones, for NBC TV’s horror anthology show FEAR ITSELF.

Suprotim Bose, Cinematographer 

Suprotim Bose has over twenty years of experience in international film and television production. He has shot and produced live, studio and remote shoots all over the US and the world, including England, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Canada and India. Credits include, Mahakumbh, a 23-minute, 16-mm documentary about a religious event attracting 15 million people – the largest such event in the world – who gather every 14 years for two weeks of prayer and festivities on the banks of the river Ganges in India. He has also shot documentaries and PSAs for UNICEF about children who work as paramedics in the slums of Bombay and preventative health solutions in the developing world.

Michael Grippo, Director of Photography 

Michael Grippo is a Gemini Award-winning, and Emmy nominated cinematographer, who has worked on Canadian and international productions in over 30 countries. He has done it all – from covering war zones to shooting beautifully recreated dramas. He works for American news networks and for independent documentary producers. Grippo has DOP credits on numerous award winning films, including Faith Without Fear (NFB/PBS, Emmy nomination) Sex Slaves, a multi-award winning documentary feature (NFB /CBC/PBS), House Calls (NFB), Shinny (NFB), Unwanted Soldiers (NFB), Bosnian War Criminals in Canada (CBC), and Living with Disabled Adults.

Gary Pozner, Composer

Gary Pozner has had a long and fascinating career in music. As a teenager he played piano in the Catskill Mountain resorts for such luminaries as Joel Grey, Mel Brooks, Henny Youngman and Chubby Checker. He moved on to Rock n Roll opening for The Grateful Dead and sharing a bill with Keith Richards and U2 as a member of the Tom Tom Club. He continues to tour all around the world with his African-Celtic-Gospel rock band, EO. In the early nineties, Gary began composing for television. He has since created over two hundred sound scores for HBO, Cinemax, Lifetime, PBS, FOX, Court TV and many others. While his image spot for ThrillerMax (1997) and his 25th Anniversary (1999) Logo for PBS, garnered Silver Promax Award, his music for ESPN’s International Sports Center won a BDA Award. Additionally, Gary was the first American composer commissioned to write music for Singapore National Television. Gary has worked on a number of films with Rob Kuhns, including Enemies of War and Russia: Land of the Tsars for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 2004.

Dale Robbins, Art Director

Dale is currently Creative Director for the weekly PBS series Moyers and Company, for which she oversees all things visual, providing art direction for on-air, online and print. She first started working with the Moyers on Earth on Edge in 1999 and continued on other productions including America’s First RiverNOW with Bill Moyers, Becoming American and Bill Moyers Journal. Dale’s company, Pie Design, has been challenged by a range of projects from a series of trading cards for the National Basketball Association to a museum installation for the Newseum in Washington DC.

Gary Pullin, Illustration and Graphic Design 

“Ghoulish” Gary Pullin is an award-winning freelance artist residing in Toronto Canada and has steadily carved out his own unique niche within the genre he loves – horror. In 2009 he was voted artist of the year at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. For over ten years he made his mark as Art Director at Rue Morgue Magazine, the world’s leading genre publication. He has worked with many notable contemporaries such as musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie, artist Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and horror icons Clive Barker and Basil Gogos. Gary’s recently been creating film posters with MONDO, Skuzzles, IFC Midnight, Fright Fest Originals and vinyl designs with Death Waltz Recording Company and WaxWork Records. His work has hung in galleries across the globe and has been published in publications such as Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue Magazine, HorrorHound Magazine, FangoriaRoyal Flush and the heavy metal magazine Revolver. Gary is Rue Morgue’s resident art columnist for The Fright Gallery and has been interviewed for several genre-related documentaries, the latest being Why Horror.  For more of Gary Pullin’ artwork, please visit:

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