Exclusive Interview with “Bunkheads” Producer Gabe Reiter

Gabe Reiter, producer of Bunkheads (currently available on Amazon Prime), tells us where the appeal in a ‘zombie’ sitcom came from.

-PH: What do you love about this genre? Why zombies?

-Gabe: Zombies are so much fun! It’s a genre everyone knows which made it a blast to set a comedy in and play with the audience’s expectations.

-PH: How did you get involved in the series. I assume it started with Romero and wine and went from there?

-Gabe: Hahaha! Definitely wine, and beer, and friends. The writer / creator Will Gong had this idea a while back and started working on it by himself and then brought director Lauren Klixbull in to develop it further. They told me that they were working on something they wanted to self-produce. I bugged them for details, but they kept it under wraps until they felt the script was done. When they finally let me read it, I cracked up laughing all the way through. It was smart, funny, clever and different. I called them right away and said I want in.

-PH: Did that initial idea change much over the course of development?

-Gabe: The script I read is pretty much what we shot, with just some small tweaks. I had a few notes, but not many. We did an initial table read that helped us punch up the script and then were off to the races.

-PH: And for those who might envision Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead comparisons. How different it is?

-Gabe: It’s like what if the characters of Shaun of the Dead never left their house, and a year later the zombies controlled the world and these rag tag semi-friends had to live together. That’s Bunkheads. A roommate sitcom set in the world of a zombie comedy like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

-PH: How long did it take for the series to come together?

-Gabe: We went into production about 7 months after I first read the script, and launched the series about a year later. Post always takes longer than you expect.

-PH: What do you prefer – practical or CGI?

-Gabe: Practical. CGI is amazing and nowadays if you can imagine it, it can be done. My philosophy is do it practically if at all possible and then go CGI when it’s not. I think there’s a magic to practical effects that the audience can feel.

-PH: Can you talk about working with the reasonably fresh-faced cast? Were they all gung-ho?

-Gabe: So gung-ho! While our cast may not be famous YET, they were hardly inexperienced. They all have several credits prior to Bunkheads and a ton of improv experience. We talked a lot in preproduction about our approach, the kind of atmosphere we wanted to create, and our goals for the project. The cast definitely got it and became the biggest supporters of the project. Plus they were all super professional and very well prepared. For example, we shot 10-14 script pages per day which is a ton more than normal, but they had it all memorized and were so in sync with their characters that it felt easy.

-PH: If you had to single out a moment in the series that really shows off what a gem you have here what moment would that be?

-Gabe: Oh man, there are so many moments I love. Probably the moment that really optimizes Bunkheads season one is in Episode 5 when Matt’s flashback lands and we realize this silly scene we’re watching is real. He had a wife and a daughter and doesn’t know what happened to them. Fun meets reality is ultimately what Bunkheads is all about.

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