Note: This interview originally appeared in Shivers magazine in August 1997

George Romero, on the set of Diary of the DeadThe 1968 film Night of the Living Dead is widely regarded as a genre masterpiece. It told a simple story about a plague of zombies terrorising a group of humans holed up in a remote farmhouse. It was made on a shoestring $115,000 budget by a novice cast and crew. The film’s unrelenting tone and bleak denouement captured the zeitgeist of a country traumatised by the Vietnam war. For its resolutely Pittsburgh-based director, George Romero, it marked the turning point between creating 8mm shorts and becoming one of America’s leading independent film-makers, and one of horror films’ most revered icons.

Interest in the film’s 1978 comic-book style-sequel, Dawn of the Dead, has been revived by the release of the Dawn of the Dead Director’s Cut on video. The film is an indirect continuation of the Night of the Living Dead story, featuring an entirely new group of characters. It principally concerns a group of human survivors who take refuge from the ever-increasing zombie army in a shopping mall, a “temple of consumerism”, where they also have to defend themselves against marauding gangs of gun-toting bikers. It successfully balances Romero’s sardonic allegorical commentary on materialism with unprecedented levels of gore. American critic Roger Ebert called Dawn “one of the best horror films ever made”, and roundly defended the film against accusations of depravity.

Romero had resisted pressure to make a sequel to The Night of the Living Dead, fearing that he might become typecast. But a fortuitous coincidence of events sparked renewed interest in the project. Romero was visiting a friend, and was shown around a shopping centre in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville. “We took a little tour of the mall, and I was shown these little survival spaces, the disaster shelters. They were stocked with civil defence supplies: old saltines, old jugs of water and so forth. It just struck me as so ironic. Here we were living exuberantly and revelling in the consumerism that was rampant at the time while upstairs in this mall there’s an atom bomb shelter! I thought it was pretty funny”.

The idea for Night of the Living Dead had been sparked by Richard Matheson’s vampire story I Am Legend. Romero wrote a sixty-page story that paralleled some of Matheson’s themes. The story was the study of the three phases that a society goes through when a revolutionary society overthrows the status quo: insurgence, equality and domination. The story, called Anubis after the Egyptian god who led the dead to judgement, provided the basis for a trilogy of zombie films, (it detailed the ideas used in the first two films, and the seed elements of the third). The visit to the mall prompted a change of setting for the second part of the film trilogy, from the farmhouse from the original film to the shopping centre.

Zombies on the move in Romero's Day of the Dead“The visit to the mall gave me an idea and I started to scribble a screenplay idly. At about the same time, serendipitously, we were approached by Dario Argento through another Italian producer, Alfredo Cuomo”. They were sent Romero’s first draft screenplay, and agreed to invest $750,000, about half the film’s budget, in return for the European distribution rights. Romero continued to develop his screenplay, dropping elements that would later be used in Dawn of the Dead’s 1985 sequel, Day of the Dead. This early version of the script included the idea that the authorities were training the zombies for use as troops in combat, and was more in keeping with the sombre tone of the original film.

The script continued to develop, every stage being vetted approvingly by the Italian producers. At one stage Dawn’s ending mirrored the downbeat finale of the original film. This version ended with Peter killing himself after luring away the zombies so that Fran could escape, and with Fran being accidentally decapitated by the blades of the helicopter. (These scenes were shot, but it is believed that the footage no longer exists). Romero reflects on this stage of the film’s development, “You’re sitting there thinking “Well, it’s supposed to be a sequel, so doesn’t it have to have this and this and this? Shouldn’t it have this black ending?” I wrestled with that for a long time and eventually decided that the whole personality of the film was different, and wasn’t as bleak this time. I had this conceit about doing a whole series of films, each made ten years apart, that would try to reflect something of the decade they were made in. When I made Night it was a darker time. All the guys we liked over here were being shot. The seventies was very much “welcome to consumer heaven”. It was the beginning of the mass market and that sort of herd mentality where you have to have a brand name. We were still fairly hopeful after the sixties. Everyone said “Okay, we won. We can stop worrying about it”. That’s the mood that I was trying to go for, so I opted to let Peter and Fran live”, he chuckles.

Once the script was finished Romero began casting the four leads. “In those days we were really limited because of the budget. I never cared for or wanted to work with stars or named actors, especially in the zombie films, because I thought that it might be a distraction if the audience had any preconceptions about the people on the screen. My wife at the time was working in a restaurant in New York, and she knew a lot of actors. We cast pretty much from among people that we knew, except for Ken Foree. In fact two of the guys, Scott Reiniger, the SWAT team member, and David Emge, the pilot, were guys that worked at that restaurant.”

Romero got permission to film inside the mall, and production began in earnest on the 13th of November 1977. “The guy that owned the company that owned the mall was someone that we always used to pitch to for investment. He was romanced by the idea of film”. (In fact he appears in the film, as a rather corpulent zombie).

“We started with all the sequences that were not set in the mall, including the ones at the beginning of the film, at the tenement block and at the TV station”. Filming inside the mall itself was postponed because it was decorated for Christmas, and the schedule was too long to allow all the scenes to be shot with them still in place. Romero regrets not being able to set the film at Christmas time, which would have added a sharper edge to the satire. “It would really have been interesting, but they needed to take the decorations down. I shot some footage that was intended for use in the pie fight sequence which included me dressed in a Santa suit, and my wife Chris dressed as one of Santa’s elves!”

Because the mall was a working location filming was restricted to the middle of the night. “The shops closed at ten o’clock, but there were a couple of taverns in there that remained open until one or two, and we had to shoot around the noise from those. At seven o’clock in the morning the musak, which seemed to be controlled by some brain in Antarctica, came on, so we had to quit at that point, because that’s when they opened the mall for joggers and people with heart conditions trying to get some exercise! It was a tough shoot. It was real guerrilla film-making. Everyone was involved, everyone cared about the film and so everyone had fun.” The mall didn’t open until noon on Sundays, allowing the unit to shoot the exterior scenes with the trucks in daylight.

The only sets that had to be constructed replicated part of the mall crawlspace, “We could have shot it inside the mall, but it wouldn’t have been practical for us to dress it up and smash the windows, so we re-constructed that in the top floor of a little five-story brownstone building downtown that was vacant. We just had to build the little room that housed the skylight.”

Romero asked make-up artist Tom Savini, who had worked with the director on Martin in 1976, to invent some creative ways of killing the zombies. Savini also appeared in the film as one of the bikers, Blades. Most of the other bikers were recruited from the Pagan Bike Club. The bulk of Savini’s make-up work involved the basic make-up for the dozens of zombie extras, the so-called “regular” zombies, but his contribution will be chiefly remembered for the movie’s elaborate splatter effects, the “specials”. Savini also acted as the film’s stunt co-ordinator, and was badly injured when a fall from the mall’s balcony was misjudged, resulting in Savini breaking the blood vessels in his feet. For the remainder of the filming Savini was restricted to doing the make up from a wheelchair. Many of the outlandish effects were influenced by Savini’s experiences as a combat photographer covering the Vietnam war. Savini credits Dawn of the Dead in helping him cope with the horrors he witnessed there.

The involvement of Dario Argento, (who had just completed Susperia), with the film’s production amounted to a little more than a flying visit to the set, to formally approve Romero’s work rate, and his participation with Goblin’s score for the European edit.

Filming was completed in February 1978. Romero assembled his first rough-cut of the film, which contained about half an hour of footage eventually lost in the fine-tuning process. “I don’t think that that version exists anywhere. We just had that in interlock, we never printed it. In those days that’s the way we did it. We couldn’t afford anything elaborate. We didn’t make copies, or print that early cut, we were just using work prints. I doubt if anyone could ever reconstruct that.”

The next step was to find the film a distributor, and in this respect the company were lucky. The United Film Distribution Company, a division of United Artists, agreed to distribute the film in its uncut - and therefore unrated - version; essentially re-treading a route that Romero had explored with Martin.

“We knew that Dawn was going to be controversial, so we made a basic cut of the film, finished it, and mixed the soundtrack using library music and three of four pieces of Goblin, the only ones that had been delivered to us at the point. We printed this version and went out and showed it to audiences in New York, using a small ad that we took in the paper. We invited distributors to come and see it, and that’s the print that is now being made available as ‘the Director’s Cut’. I’m happy to put my name to it, because it truly is mine. I’m happy to see it and I’m happy to be able to own it. It’s the very original version that I cut. It contains everything that at the time I thought was usable and that worked. It’s cruder; it’s largely scored with library music and some of the cutting isn’t where it ended up. It‘s not bloodier. I hope that people aren’t going to be disappointed for that reason. Most of the stuff in it that make it different are little bits of dialogue that we cut out here and there, mostly little shades. It was the tool that we used to try and get distributors interested.” It’s this early version, the one screened at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival, that is now being released on video in the UK by BMG, albeit with a few BBFC edits.

In the US the film was released, unrated, in April 1979. In the UK the film was initially presented to the BBFC using Argento’s leaner edit, which emphasised the gore at the expense of Romero’s satire and slapstick; a version also known as Zombie and Zombies: Dawn of the Dead. These variations eliminate the original film’s stock music, and supplements the film with more music from Goblin. The film was promoted with the chilling tag-line “When there’s no more room in HELL the dead will walk the EARTH”, and opened in the UK in January 1980 with the expected X certificate.

“As part of the financing deal our Italian partners had the right to cut the film down, and Dario did,” Romero laughs. “he left in every bit of the blood and cut out dialogue sequences and most of the humour. I don’t think he thought that humour had a place in a film like this, especially the overt material that ours had, like the pie fight. So he took those elements out. I think that the BBFC looked at Dario’s version and wanted to cut out thirteen minutes, which sent the British distributors, Target, into panic. They decided to submit the American version, which was passed with only a couple of minutes cut, because the humour and the satire softened the film and made the BBFC more lenient. They realised that this wasn’t just meant to be a celebration of red: profondo rosso!”

The dead walk, in George Romero's CreepshowNow there are at least three noticeably different versions of the film in circulation, (and that excludes additional variations caused by censorship edits in various territories). When the film was double-billed with Creepshow in 1983 fifty edits were made to bring the film down to match Creepshow’s R rating.

The film was very successful. “I’ve heard reports anywhere from sixty to a hundred million dollars. It’s almost impossible to keep accurate counts. I just have a percentage of the profits, and that’s taken from what’s sent back to the producer. That’s where the problem is: I think that at every point along the way somebody people keep a little change.” Romero sounds more disappointed than bitter.

Romero’s experiences on Day of the Dead were frustrating and unhappy. His ambitions were thwarted when it became apparent that the film would not be released with a commercially desirable R rating, which, in turn, caused the film’s budget to be cut back.

Romero returned to making zombie films in 1990 when he produced Tom Savini’s directorial debut, a re-make of Night of the Living Dead. It was partly an attempt to regain some control over the original film, which had accidentally fallen into public ownership. “Originally the film was called Night of the Flesh Eaters, and we had made the mistake, being rather naive, of putting our copyright notice in the head credits rather than at the tail. When the original distributor changed the title to Night of the Living Dead they assumed that the notice was in the end credits, and they never put a copyright notice up front. The lawyers are still arguing. I think it might be a no win situation. I was never separated from it, in terms of my career, but the company that produced the original film, a commune of twenty-eight people, are still wondering why we didn’t make any money. For a lot of the other people it was the first time they were involved in anything. Many of them never went on to do anything else, and it’s the only thing they’ve got. Because of the ongoing problems about the original film’s ownership, we were worried that “if we don’t re-make it someone else will”. It was the same thing with the colorized version that we produced. Those weren’t ideas that I had, and they certainly weren’t things that I particularly wanted to do. I didn’t want to stop the other investors from benefiting from them, and so I figured I’d rather be involved than just let it happen.”

A zombie trapped in a bridal gowns shop, in Day of the Dead.Romero’s experiences with his 1985 film Day of the Dead haven’t ruled out the possibility of another zombie film, perhaps the rumoured Twilight of the Dead. “I’d love to do another one set in the ‘nineties, but there are too many fingers in the pie. Everyone wants fifty-one percent. There are too many interested parties: too many companies, too may individuals. Everyone wants a piece of the action. I’ve tried to resist working within the Hollywood system, but you can’t entirely.”

At various stages Romero’s name has been attached to several notable projects that ended up being handled by other directors, including the adaptations of three Stephen King novels; Pet Semetary (1989), The Stand (1994) and Salem’s Lot (1979). His friendship with King resulted in the anthology film Creepshow in 1982 and The Dark Half in 1993.

Romero’s experiences on his 1988 film Monkey Shines, (which was considerably altered at the request of the studio), have obviously left some wounds. “I’ve had to do my penance. I’ve basically been working for the studios for the last few years. Not making movies, but writing them, going through development and all the stuff that you hear about. It’s been very, very frustrating, but I’ve just finished writing a couple of new spec things that hopefully I can do myself for very little money.”

Surprisingly Romero claims that there’s little demand for another …of the Dead film. “All of a sudden horror is hot again and my phone’s ringing off of the wall because of Scream. It makes me laugh. I’m working on a film that’s probably in that genre, but I think that it’s got a little more going for it. The one I’m talking about has a title which is really obvious, that someone might… the title gives it away, basically. It’s a little too early for me to talk about them.”

He sighs regretfully when asked whether he’s talking about his long-planned remake of The Mummy, which has been thrown in limbo by the vacillations of the studio money men. “That was probably the biggest disappointment of my life, because I loved the script. They never know what they want. They’ve gone through so many incarnations. It was “Let’s make it like The Hitcher. Let’s make it like this. Let’s make it like that”, whatever the current hit was. The various administrations at Universal, (where, after all, the great cinematic monsters originally came from), never really had any faith in their heritage, and never had the vision to develop their franchises. When other studios finally got around to remaking the classic tales, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, they were hundred million dollar epics, and none of them were made by Universal. The Mummy was the only one left. No-one could ever decide what to do with it. Nobody would leave it alone or say “let’s just make a modest little Mummy movie out of it”. No-one sat down and looked at the fundamental reasons why the Mummy was scary. You can imagine the sort of conversations. It’s pretty hard to find people that understand the genre well enough. Unless it’s some new idea like a doll that’s alive, or Freddy or anything like that, they don’t get it. They don’t really want to take the chance of funding a reasonably-budgeted film. They either want it to be very inexpensive, or it’s got to be a hundred million bucks and star Robert DeNiro.”

That’s not to say that Romero wouldn’t be interested in directing a big budget movie. “I’d have to look at the conditions and the circumstances. I certainly don’t resist things just for the hell of it. Usually those things come so encumbered. These things are basically run by committees and the values that they want to promote are not my cup of tea. I’d be the first one to come and sit down and talk about it. I have no prejudice about using more money, it’s just usually that it’s usually so damned expensive.”



Courtesy of Optimum Releasing

In his first independently produced zombie film in over two decades, George A. Romero returns to ground zero in the history of the living dead. When a group of film students making a horror movie in the woods discovers that the dead have begun to revive, they turn their cameras on the real-life horrors that suddenly confront them, creating a first person diary of their bloody encounters and the disintegration of everything they hold dear.

Told with Romero's pitch-black humor and an unflinching eye on our post-Katrina world, George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead marks the noted filmmaker's return to his roots.


Diary of the DeadThe master of horror returns to the kind of filmmaking he pioneered and the genre he invented. In his first independent zombie film in over twenty years, George A. Romero takes us back to ground zero in the history of the living dead.

Jason Creed and a small crew of college filmmakers are in the Pennsylvania woods making a no-budget horror film when they hear the terrifying news that the dead have started returning to life.

Led by Jason's girlfriend, Debra, the frightened young filmmakers set off in a friend's old Winnebago to try to get back to the only safety and security they know: their homes. But there is no escape from the crisis, nor any real home for them anymore. Everything they depend upon, all that they hold dear, is fractured as the plague of the living dead begins to spread.

Jason documents the true-life horrors in a tense, first-person style that heightens the reality of each encounter. Even as his friends die, even as they are attacked by ravenous walking corpses at every stop along the way, Jason keeps filming, an obsessive, unflinching eye in the midst of chaos.

The government first denies, then promises to quell the crisis, but can’t. Technology fails. Communication with the rest of the world becomes impossible. Jason and what remains of his crew end up on their own, a handful of lucky survivors, reliant on no one but themselves to stay alive. They take final refuge in a fortress of a mansion, but their sanctuary turns out to be a trap from which there is no escape. Throughout it all, the cameras keep rolling, recording every detail for future generations…if any survive.


Diary of the Dead's Debra Moynihan (Michelle Morgan)Michelle Morgan (Debra) has worked steadily on both stage and screen for the past few years in a variety of roles. Her numerous screen credits include Across the River To Motor City, Final 24, The Smart Woman’s Survival Guide, Alien Fire and Road Rage. She has honed her acting skills onstage in such diverse plays as Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Goldini’s Servant of Two Masters as well as When We Dead Awaken with John Neville, The Bacchae, Fly and Two Rooms. She currently lives in Toronto.

Josh Close's (Jason) acting debut was in the independent film, In the Lair, but he first won widespread attention with K-19: The Widowmaker when he was cast alongside one of his screen idols, Harrison Ford. His co-starring roles in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, with Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson, and A Home At The End of the World, with Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn, have established him as a versatile actor whose star is on the rise. Other film credits include Full of It, The Plague, and Haunted. His many television appearances include a recurring role on ABC’s Life As We Know It. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Shawn Roberts (Tony) began acting professionally at age 12 in the CBC series Emily of New Moon, produced by Academy Award-winner Michael Donovan. Roberts went on to amass numerous diverse credits, including Land of the Dead directed by George A. Romero for Universal Pictures, X Men directed by Bryan Singer for Twentieth Century Fox, Skinwalkers for director Jim Isaac, Jumper for director Doug Liman, and Cheaper By The Dozen 2.

Roberts’ television credits include Stone Cold opposite Tom Selleck for CBS, Degrassi: The Next Generation, We Were the Mulvaneys for Lifetime and a recurring role on ABC Family's Falcon Beach. He lives in both Toronto and Los Angeles.

Amy Lalonde (Tracy), a former high school arts teacher and Queen’s University drama major, is no stranger to the world of horror, having been an associate producer, head writer and host for two seasons at Scream (Corus Entertainment), a movie channel devoted to thriller, horror, and suspense films.
Her screen credits include: Battlestar Galactica, Mutant X, Queer as Folk, Beautiful People, LoveBites, Murder in the Hamptons, and Kevin Hill. Recently, she completed a role in the feature film 5ive Girls opposite Ron Perlman. Amy also keeps busy as a highly sought-after commercial print model. She lives in Toronto.

Joe Dinicol (Eliot), though still a young man, is already an industry veteran having started as a child actor on a number of Canadian television series. From family fare such as Real Kids, Real Adventures, The Famous Jett Jackson, The Facts of Life, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang to popular shows like Eerie, Indiana, Rideau Hall, and Train 48, Dinicol is no stranger to the rigors of being cast in a principal role. He has also been the lead in a number of feature films including Kart Racer, The Marsh, and Weirdsville, directed by Allan Moyle. He lives in Toronto.

Scott Wentworth (Maxwell), a versatile veteran of both stage and screen who has worked throughout the United States and Canada, brings both levity and gravity to Diary of the Dead in his professorial role. An acclaimed regular at the prestigious Stratford Festival, he has played the title roles in Macbeth, Henry IV, and The Brothers Karamazov. On the Broadway stage, he was Uncle Louis in Lost in Yonkers, Count Vronsky in Anna Karenina and most recently, Bates in Welcome to the Club, which garnered him a Tony nomination. Wentworth is also no stranger to motion pictures and television. His credits include: Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, NBC’s The Terry Anderson Story, Elizabeth Rex, and the award-winning series Law & Order. He lives in Toronto.

Philip Riccio (Ridley) is an actor in high demand on both stage and screen. His diverse theatre work includes roles at the Stratford Festival in Henry IV Part I and Henry IV Part II and as Soulpepper in Hamlet. Among his other stage credits are Unidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love, Love’s Labour Lost, Don Juan, and the Doranominated Company Theatre production of A Whistle in the Dark. He has had principal roles onscreen in Bookey’s Mark, Puppets Who Kill and was the lead in the WB’s A Windigo Tale. Riccio is a series lead in the popular Showcase television hit Rent-A-Goalie. He lives in Toronto.

Chris Violette (Gordo) who is best known for his role as Blue Ranger Sky in the popular television series Power Rangers has also appeared in Degrassi: The Next Generation, Wild Card, and Queer as Folk. Chris' film credits include Labou directed by Greg Aronowitz, and he will be featured in Return to Sleepaway Camp directed by Robert Hiltzik to be released this year.

Tatiana Maslany (Mary) is a versatile actress, who loves improv comedy and is a member of a number of troupes including the General Food Improvisational Theatre and Anoetic Improv. She is an alumnus of the Canadian Improv Games. A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Tatiana portrayed the Ghost in Ginger
Snaps 2: Unleashed
and has appeared in The Messengers, The Robber Bride and the thriller Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming.


George A. Romero, on the set of Diary of the DeadGeorge A. Romero (writer-director) is considered the father of the modern horror film. His first feature, Night of the Living Dead (1968), redefined the genre, not only with its explicit violence, but also with a satirical view of American society that reflected the turmoil of the times. Known for his intelligence, innovation and sensitivity as a filmmaker, in addition to his ability to scare, Romero made short films, industrials and commercials before co-writing, directing, filming and editing Night of the Living Dead. The film, made on a budget of $114,000, is a stark parable of the American family consuming itself and still retains the power to shock and surprise.

Romero made several other low-budget films in Pittsburgh before solidifying his reputation with two remarkable films: Martin (1978), a lyrical, poignant and deeply disturbing story of a lonely boy who is convinced he is a vampire, and Dawn of the Dead (1979), set in a suburban shopping mall where a band of struggling survivors is beset by zombies and their own personal demons. A powerful, apocalyptic action film leavened with Romero’s signature pitch-black wit, the movie became one of the most profitable independent productions in film history.

He continued to do interesting work throughout the 80s and 90s with Knightriders (1981), a heartfelt film based on Arthurian legend, in which Ed Harris plays the leader of a troupe that stages medieval fairs with knights jousting on motorcycles instead of horses; Creepshow (1982), a smart and boldly stylized film with a script by Stephen King and a cast of well-known actors; and 1985's Day of the Dead, a progressive, eerily claustrophobic film, the third in Romero's zombie saga.

In 1988, Monkey Shines became Romero's first studio-produced film and introduced him to Peter Grunwald, with whom he eventually formed Romero-Grunwald Productions. The film was hailed by Newsweek as a “white-knuckle triumph.” Two Evil Eyes (1990) was a collaboration with filmmaker Dario Argento, comprising two vignettes inspired by Edgar Allan Poe short stories. 1993's The Dark Half starred Tim Hutton in a superb dual performance. The film, like much of Romero's work, was praised by critics and is considered among the most thoughtful of the many Stephen King adaptations.

In 2000 Romero made Bruiser, a taught, frightening and highly original tale of revenge, which at the time was his most exciting, stylish and accomplished film. Land of the Dead was released by Universal Pictures in June 2005 and garnered exceptional critical acclaim in addition to becoming one of the most successful of Romero's films at the box office. In the fall of 2006 Romero embarked on Diary of the Dead, his most personal film since Night of the Living Dead. He proudly describes it as one that “comes from my heart. It's not a sequel or a remake. It's a whole new beginning for the dead.”

Peter Grunwald (Producer) began his career at 15 as a production assistant on Otto Preminger's Such Good Friends. Two years later, he wrote and directed a short subject, The Vendor, for producer Steve Tisch, which led to an association with Robert Evans at Paramount Pictures, where Grunwald worked on such films as Chinatown, Marathon Man, and Black Sunday.

Grunwald became a story editor at Paramount before establishing an editorial consulting firm that included Ken McCormick, the legendery publisher of Roots, among its clients. Grunwald returned to film work as Vice President of Charles Evans Productions, which developed and produced Tootsie, and served as executive producer of Monkey Shines, written and directed by George Romero, with whom he began a long-term collaboration. Romero-Grunwald Productions, the development and production company formed by the two, has produced the films Bruiser, Land of the Dead, and Diary of the Dead.

Artur Spigel (Producer) founded 7ate9 Entertainment, a Hollywood-based multi-platform production agency focused on youth entertainment, in 1997. The company is known as an innovator in the world of television and youth marketing, producing and directing thousands of award-winning productions for networks including Disney, MTV, and Cartoon Network. In 2004, Art founded Artfire Films with his partner, Dan Fireman. Artfire is a film production and financing company specializing in director-driven, independent projects. Through Artfire, Art is producing a number of films, most recently George A. Romero’s Diary of The Dead.

Sam Englebardt (Producer) is a Vice President in the Private Clients practice at Bernstein Global Wealth Management, where he works as a financial advisor to high net worth individuals, families and foundations. He was formerly Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Artfire Films and was a founding partner of Arrival Cinema, where he produced and executive produced several acclaimed films, including Paris, je t’aime, a collective film set in Paris, with segments directed by some of the world’s
top directors, and Edmond, adapted from David Mamet’s play, directed by Stuart Gordon, starring William H. Macy and Julia Stiles. Englebardt graduated from Harvard Law School and is a licensed attorney in California. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Philosophy and Political Science and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.

Ara Katz (Producer) began producing films after graduating magna cum laude from Tufts University. Her first feature, Sexual Dependency, sold worldwide and garnered critical acclaim, ultimately receiving the Oscar nomination from Bolivia in 2003. Soon after the success of her first feature, Ara founded Arrival Cinema, where she has produced and executive produced a number of projects, most notably, Paris, je t’aime. In 2006, Arrival Cinema was folded into the producing and financing company, Artfire Films,
where Ara serves as the Executive Vice President of Production and Development.

Dan Fireman (Executive Producer) is a partner in Artfire Films, the entity that financed and joined with Romero-Grunwald Productions to bring Diary of the Dead to the screen. Fireman’s passion to support filmmakers with an independent voice is what attracted him to the film business and it his business and financial acumen that will be integral to Artfire’s growth in the motion picture industry. Although primarily an asset manager and real estate developer-builder, he has been involved with such high-profile documentaries as the Academy Award-winning Born into Brothels and the Oscar-nominated
Murderball. In his role as President & CEO of Willowbend Development, LLC Fireman is presently overseeing the residential development at Liberty National, a New Jersey waterfront property that overlooks the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline and boasts three residential towers and a world-class golf course. Other Willowbend properties include: Willowbend Country Club – a private residential golf community on Cape Cod; The Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort & Golf Club in Puerto Rico and The Starr Pass Marriott in Tucson, Arizona.

John Harrison (Executive Producer) began his career directing rock videos and working as a First Assistant Director for George A. Romero. He wrote and directed multiple episodes of Romero's classic TV series, Tales From The Darkside, before helming Paramount Pictures’ Tales From the Darkside, The Movie for which he won the Grand Prix du Festival at Avoriaz, France. Harrison has written and directed television episodes and world premiere movies for HBO, NBC and FOX. He wrote and directed SciFi Channel’s six-hour miniseries adaptations of Frank Herbert's bestseller, Dune, and its follow up, Children of Dune, both of which were Emmy-winners. He co-wrote Disney’s animated feature, Dinosaur, and adapted Clive Barker’s fantasy novels, Abarat, for Disney. Harrison is now in pre-production on the film adaptation of Barker’s Book of Blood, which he will direct from his own

Steve Barnett (Executive Producer) is currently Senior Vice President of Production and Development at Dimension Films, where he recently developed and managed the production of The Mist, based on a Stephen King novella, which was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont. Prior to joining Dimension, he was Executive Vice President of Production for Atmosphere Entertainment MM, where he was instrumental in the production of four major studio films: 300, released by Warner Bros Pictures; The Spiderwick Chronicles, for Paramount Pictures; Full Of It, a teen comedy released by New Line Cinema; and George A. Romero’s Land of The Dead for Universal Pictures. Before Atmosphere, Barnett was a Senior Vice President of Production at Artists Production Group, the film production unit of Michael Ovitz’s Artists Management Group, where he was instrumental in building the company’s film development department.


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