Filmmaker puts local spin on zombie genre
Tall Taurus Media owner Johnathan Holbrook (center) directs one of the scenes at Still: The Web Series. He’s taken the skills and equipment he uses for making videos for business and used them to create the online web series.
Actors Meredith Binder, Brace Evans and David Ledingham play the Stills, zombie-like creatures, in a sci-fi web series shot around Snohomish County. The series is being produced by the owner of Tall Taurus Media.
No, not eye-rolling teens with hair in their eyes who drag clumpy feet, wearing long coats and black eyeliner. The zombies in our streets have a hint of normality about them, even resembling neighbors and friends.
And don’t call them zombies. They are “Stills.”
“Still: The Web Series” is the brainchild of Jonathan Holbrook, a Lake Stevens resident and owner of Tall Taurus Media.
“We are taking the zombie genre in a whole other direction,” Holbrook said. “The Stills have zombie traits but they don’t eat each other.”
Holbrook likes that Stills have a creep factor without the gore. And that, Holbrook hopes, leaves a lot to the imagination of the viewer.
“That’s the most powerful thing,” he said. “We’ve been told the show has a kind of ‘Twin Peaks’ feel.”
Holbrook writes, directs and even caters for the show, which is shot in Everett, Arlington and other locations around the county. Actors and other crew volunteer on the series. Holbrook has spent less than $2,000 on the first eight episodes.
Holbrook was born in Seattle, raised in Austin, Texas, and returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1990. He enrolled at Everett Community College in a film and video program. Next, he took the film extension program at the University of Washington and started Tall Taurus Media, an Everett business that produces videos for corporations and businesses.
In 2012, Holbrook opened the indie film branch of his company called Chronicle Factory. He made a couple of short films, then started the web series. While the corporate videos are easier to make and Holbrook gets paid from those jobs, “Still: The Web Series” brings creative fulfillment.
Local fans of the web series can log on see if they can spot streets in Everett and Arlington, and maybe a local actor or two. One episode has a face that many people in the Puget Sound area will recognize: radio and television personality Pat Cashman.
Actor Dave Shecter, who lives in Lake Stevens, killed Cashman in episode seven.
“I feel terrible about it,” Shecter said. “He’s a great guy, funny guy and good to work with.”
Shecter lives just a few doors down from Holbrook but the two didn’t know each other.
“I was on the set of a pilot TV series in Port Angeles called, ‘The Olympians,’” Shecter said.
That’s when Shecter saw an ad about a web series. He contacted Holbrook and sent him his resume. Holbrook called Shecter and told him that he might have the perfect role for him.
“He said, ‘His name is Levi. He’s a gun-toting psychopath,’” Shecter said. “I believe those were his words.”
That’s when the two men realized they had been neighbors for a decade.
“I love this type of role,” Shecter said. “It involves a lot of makeup and prosthetics.”
Shecter said he remains committed to the series because of Holbrook.
“From directing to editing and shooting,” Shecter said. “I don’t know how he does it all but the way he shoots compared to other web series is so good and professional.”
Working on a film or web series is a family affair for Holbrook. His daughter, Chloe, appears in episodes.
“She blows everybody else away with her acting,” Holbrook said. “She just does it because she is helping me out.”
Holbrook’s wife, Janine Holbrook, has been a line producer in a couple of episodes and friends handed over Alexander Printing in Everett as an indoor venue for filming.
When it comes to filming outdoors around the county, Holbrook has his favorite spots. He wanted to start his series in small towns and rural areas.
“Arlington is kinda quirky,” Holbrook said.
Both Arlington and Everett are friendly to film in, Holbrook said. Filming the latest episode shut down Rockefeller Avenue in Everett for a car chase scene.
Brent Barrie, 20, heard about Holbrook through a performance callboard, an email listing for acting, theater and film work. He had attended The Marysville Arts and Technology High School, worked in film for eight years and now produces visual effects for films through his company, Linebreak Media.
“One day I checked out of the blue and saw ‘Still: The Web Series,’” Barrie said.
Holbrook asked him to do visual effects on the eyes of the Stills and Barrie had the job done in two hours.
“For infected citizens, the eyes are one of the most prominent things,” Barrie said.
He uses software that allows him to adjust the color of eyes and add a gray glaze.
“It’s not over the top,” Barrie said. “It’s in the believable range. They stand out from the crowd.”
“Still: The Web Series” has garnered many online fans and has become a critic favorite at web festivals throughout the United States. Holbrook is piling up the awards.
Holbrook and his cast and crew have recently finished filming the ninth of 14 episodes. The second season could start filming in the fall.
“I’ve not heard one negative thing about it,” Holbrook said. “People tell me it scares them. It’s crazy.”
“Still: The Web Series,” can be found at www.facebook.com/StillTheWebSeries.
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