Inside Zombie Office Interactive Horror Video Game

Zombie Office

Today we talk with Jean Francois Rouze. Jean is the co-founder of a video production company and a video game agency. The production company was founded when Jean was only 22 years old. Now they have over 10 years’ experience producing and developing entertainment content for Disney, Marvel, BBC and Porsche. Jean is passionate about video games and movies ever since he was a child.

We will be talking to Jean today about Zombie Office. We were so impressed with the trailer that was made for Kickstarter that we had to find out more. Zombie Office is shot like a movie to be played as an interactive video game. This is the modern day version of the choose your own adventure books we all had as kids.

Visit Zombie Office at http://www.zombieoffice.com

Follow Zombie Office @ZombieOfficeTW

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Highlights of the Zombie Office Interview

Whats your background in making films?

I started a movie production company when I was 22 years old as I was graduating film making university. I was interested in starting my own business because I was not going to work for television or film industry. We started with advertising and collaborating with films in France and Spain as well as interactive content.

How did you find work that paid the bills so early on?

I had no clients when I started. I took my laptop and went to see clients to tell them I can make any type of video production for them. We moved into mobile and web video production in 2007. It was a good time to be in digital.

Who was your first client?

Our first client was L’oreal Paris. We started making advertising for their social media and eventually got more business for their television advertising. It was a big client and very exciting.

Where did you attend university?

I attended the University of Madrid. It was difficult because at that time there was not a lot of universities offering studies in film. Between 500-600 people applied that year and only 12 were accepted. It was a bit like Hunger Games. You had to fight for your spot. I was only 18 and had to compete with people that were much older. It was exciting and educational but I think the best school is going outside and shooting with a camera and sharing your projects with people.

Where did you get the film making bug?

Actually I never touched a camera before I arrived to school because my Dad never let me touch his video camera. It was a big fight at home. My uncle worked in the movie business and I used to read his scripts when I was a kid and I loved it. When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor like Maculey Culkin in Home Alone. I said to my Mom, stop calling Jean Francois, call me Kevin.

Then I went to a movie shooting and I saw a guy with a cap giving orders to everyone. I asked my uncle who that guy was and he told me it was the director. I said now I want to be the director.

Were you a fan of horror movies growing up?

That came later. Everything used to scare me when I was a kid. I started to watch them more and more and also the making of when I was in university.

What film makers inspire you?

This may be typical but Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director. I remember a book written by a French director named Francois (XXXX). It’s an interview with him and Hitchcock. Francois asked Hitchcock why he made so many scenes without any dialogue. Hitchcock replied by saying, “If I can make people understand a scene without any dialogue, then when my characters speak they will only say what they need to say.” This was a big thing in my head.

I started to film a lot without sound to be sure that what I’m going to show can be clearly understood. I only add dialogue now when it’s necessary.

Where did you get the idea for Zombie Office?

Driving. It was in 2008 at the beginning of my video production company. The iPhone 3 had just come on the market and everyone was talking about apps. I was thinking about apps with interactive content. I was driving and I just thought we should make an interactive video game series with zombies because I like zombies. It’s an amazing subject for interactive content.

I went to my brother and told him the idea and he said okay, but we need developers and we have no money to hire a developer. He said we should go to the university and ask programming students if they want to help us.  We started like that and then the project just stopped on my desk for about 4 or 5 years because we needed more technology to develop what I had in my head.

When virtual reality, augmented reality and smartphones became more powerful all the pieces were ready to start the adventure again. Now we have a full team of developers ready.

“Interactive Content With Zombies. Let’s Do That!” Click To Tweet

Has your video marketing skills helped you for this project?

Yes, we definitely learned a lot along the way. We are capable of making great scenes, even ones that are not in the market right now. It was great training. In the last 5 years we’ve made a lot of mobile apps for Disney, Marvel, and BBC Television. Every time it was a new challenge.

When we start to shoot for Zombie Office we are ready because we have touched so many pieces of the technology already. Now it’s a matter of merging different technologies with one purpose. To entertain the audience with great content.

What are the challenges in shooting an interactive game vs a film?

For the script and the producer, it’s a nightmare. For me it’s super fun. We have to theme up to three different paths and it all has to make sense. We need to put it all on paper so when we start filming interactive content. We take a big wall and start to design all the pieces of the tree which are the ways each character can go.

It’s a very interesting process but also exhausting when you’re filming and the script comes to you and says you just filmed option 1. Now you have to film option 2, 3 and 4. It’s like oh my god I forgot that.

Did you assemble a team specifically for Zombie Office?

It depends. We started with people coming from different universities in Spain. We also have people joining the project from the UK and the US as well as France and Russia. Some joined us when we launched the trailer and others were on board since the writing process. At the last count we have 15 different nationalities involved in the project.

When does Zombie Office begin crowdfunding on Kickstarter?

We had planned to launch the Kickstarter in 2016 and as you know we are in 2017. When we launched the pre-campaign with the trailer we had a lot of people excited about the project. There were companies contacting us about merchandising and how to make the project even bigger.  It was decided to delay the launch until February or March of 2017.  We care about the community.

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Will the project be fully funded through crowdfunding?

We are confident in our project and think it can be 100% funded by the community. We are also very open to private investors and merchandising. That’s why we are still open before we make any final decisions.

Have you started shooting beyond the trailer yet?

We decided to film the first 10 minutes of the game and a 360 degree video because we are into virtual reality. We filmed virtual reality scenes with zombies and it’s also interactive. We also film with regular HD camera’s.

What are three lessons you learned from this project?

First, I never imagined that the zombie community was so active. It’s amazing how people got involved when they knew about the project. I’m very grateful for the zombie fan community. Everyone, including the actors who will wait 5 hours in zombie makeup for me to call action. Also, the people who watch the trailer and ask questions and take time to read up on your project.  I was not expecting people to be so engaged.

Second, I never imagined that from just the trailer it would get so big and we haven’t even launched the final project. We are still in prototype and developing and already have so much interest.

The third thing is never stop filming. With my company many times I have to stay away from the camera and manage the company and teams. For me coming back behind the camera and having a great time filming a horror was like going back to university. My advice is never stop filming even if its something small.

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