Artscape: Vikings vs. Zombies benefit

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

True Studios' Greg Kissner and Aaron Syler have made all sorts of movies together since enrolling at CCAD early last decade. But after dabbling in comedy during college and making the political drama On the Lam with director Corey Aumiller, they never thought they'd be working on a project called Vikings vs. Zombies.

Yet that's just what they're doing thanks to an offer from Tom Seymour, a former colleague from Kissner's stint at a New York comedy website. Seymour guaranteed the duo a distribution deal through Brightly Entertainment for any B horror movie they wanted to make, so Kissner started thinking hard about horror.

"I ran into my cousin, who started a Viking metal band," Kissner said. "It was really actually the music that inspired the idea for the movie."

For reasons he can't explain, his cousin's band made Kissner think about Vikings fighting zombies. So he pitched the concept to his creative partner Syler, who often balances out Kissner's excitement with a healthy dose of common sense.

"Our working relationship just works really well because I build pyramids from the top to the bottom, and he builds pyramids from the bottom to the top," Kissner explained.

Syler initially balked, but ardent persuasion by Kissner and the prospect of guaranteed distribution proved too lucrative to resist.

"It's nice knowing that we're working toward something," Syler said.

So the pair spent an afternoon drive from Toledo to Columbus crafting the story, based on pre-existing elements of mythology: At the dawn of the Viking age, a handful of the Nordic pillagers shipwreck on an island with an ancient treasure guarded by zombies. Chaos ensues.

The plan is to begin shooting this spring in Columbus and New York. B movie stars like Lloyd Kaufman and Rachael Robins are on board. To pull off such an ambitious plot on a budget of $10,000, they plan to make most of the movie in front of a green screen and maximize the post-production aspect.

"We never used special effects," Kissner said. "Now the entire movie is special effects."

They hope to raise some of their budget this weekend at Junctionview Studios, where they'll host an all-night fundraiser event. Besides featuring a swarm of quality local bands and DJs and offering free beer with your $10 admission charge, they'll debut a teaser video, raffle prizes and auction off an executive producer credit and roles as extras.

"It's really just credit only," Syler said regarding the producer credit. "But they'll be welcome on the set to hang out, and I'm sure we'll take some of their opinions if they're good. We'll make it worth the money."


Dane Terry

Karate Coyote

Sleepers Awake

Terribly Empty Pockets

Midnight Wild Streets

Abbey in the Oaks

Ride to Ruin




Vikings vs. Zombies benefit

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Where: Junctionview Studios, Grandview