How teenage filmmakers Sam and Mattie got director Peter Farrelly to produce their film

Sam suchmann and Mattie Zufelt are the best friends who met when they were 8 years old. They share a deep passion for movies and for years they were determined to make one. They presented their dream film to whoever wanted to hear it.

Imagine a racy 1990-flavored teen zombie flick that explodes with action, stunts, comedy, drama, love, gore and more. Two teenagers are tasked with saving the world after the devil appears with zombies and demons, ruining the prom night and attempting to destroy all of humanity.

Suchmann and Zufelt, now 25, enlisted Sam’s older brother Jesse Suchmann and his filmmaker friends to help them make their dreams come true. “When Sam introduced me to the storyboards he drew with Mattie, I just remember thinking, ‘These are so well thought out! They put so much energy into it. It has to be done !’ Jesse shares.

They’ve also been able to convince friends and businesses in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island to come in and help them out. Their only rule was that their original artistic vision had to remain intact. This meant that the best friends would script, script, produce, launch and star in their movie. Spring Break Zombie Massacre.

Mission accomplished. After raising $ 70,000 in a Kickstarter campaign and arming themselves with gallons of fake blood and a serious mind, Suchmann and Zufelt finished their bloody, and sometimes wacky movie.

It’s difficult to make a cinematographic period. But these young filmmakers, who also have Down’s syndrome, are unstoppable. Their film premiered in Providence, Rhode Island on July 7, 2016.

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“We started out thinking that we would shoot their movie with iPhones and ketchup, but Sam and Mattie’s big dreams were contagious, so everyone volunteered to join in,” the director said. Bobby Carnival. “The fact that we’ve ended up with such an amazing movie proves that when you bring the right people together, you can do it all. “

News of the Kickstarter campaign sparked interest in the film. He caught the attention of Today the weather, Conan O’Brien, PBS News Hour and much more. Also among his legions of supporters was the Oscar-winning director Pierre Farrelly (Green book, There is something about Marie, Stupid and even more stupid).

Another Rhode Islander who heard of the Carnevale film, Farrelly took Suchmann and Zufelt under his wing. And when it was time to make their documentary promised by Kickstarter on the making of Spring Break Zombie Massacre, not only did Farrelly appear in the documentary, but he also became its executive producer.

Just this spring Sam and Mattie make a zombie movie debuted on Apple TV. The documentary also includes the full zombie movie. Bursting with heart, the documentary reveals what happens when people with disabilities are brought to the fore and in charge of the creative process.

As Farrelly points out: 20% of Americans have a disability. However, in movies and television, only 2% of characters are disabled. “They are massively under-represented, one of the reasons being that very few people with disabilities are behind the camera or in leadership positions,” he explains. “It is therefore not enough to start putting them in front of the camera, we have to start authorizing them in the writing rooms and at the DGA and in all the departments. Fortunately, that is changing quickly thanks to organizations like the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Media Access Awards, which celebrate and encourage inclusion of people with disabilities.

Additionally, CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony and Paramount have pledged to follow the Ruderman Foundation guidelines for hearing more actors with disabilities. “This will change things. There are some superstar actors right now that you’ve never heard of, because they never got a chance to show their stuff, ”says Farrelly.

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There is a lot to take away from the documentary. “It tells the most honest version of this story that we have been able to put together. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be the inspiration to go on your own creative adventure with a loved one, ”shares Sam’s brother Jesse. “It will double for families of people with disabilities. This collaboration created incredible new dimensions of connection for all of us and was the most fun we’ve ever had. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Farrelly suggests that people shouldn’t just watch the movie because two people with Down’s syndrome made a movie. “Watch it because it’s really good and fun,” he says. “And because you’ll be smiling from ear to ear the entire movie.”

Peter Farrelly shared more about working with Sam and Mattie and making the inspirational documentary.

I imagine a lot of people are asking you for advice. What prompted you to embark on this particular project?

I love Sam and Mattie. They are nice guys. Originally, I just thought I would meet them and give them some advice, as a favor to Bobby Carnevale. But once I heard what they were doing and how much planning they had already put in place, I got excited and wanted to see where it was going. Also, we laughed a lot and wanted to spend more time with them.

How precisely did you see that you could help them?

I didn’t want to mess with their script because they knew what they wanted. But I also knew they were on a tight budget, so I wanted to make sure they got the most bang for their buck. For example, did they really have to shoot a ferry or would a mid-size boat do that? And I could see they were getting nervous about the shoot, just like any newbie actor / filmmaker would. But I explained that they had already done the hardest part, which was writing the script, so they should just have fun and everything would work out. This was important because in order for their personalities to translate to the screen, they had to be cowardly.

What went through your mind when you first met Sam and Mattie?

I was impressed with how they complemented each other. It was sort of a miracle actually. They both had very different strengths and personalities, but they worked perfectly as a team. I could tell they had the kind of solid optimism it takes to see a movie from start to finish.

They are both very outgoing, but Sam also has an introspective side. Left alone, I could see how he could turn into the brooding type of poet. But Mattie is a stick of dynamite that makes Sam move and shake and come out of his own head. At other times, when Mattie hits a wall, which is rare, Sam is there to pat her on the back and rekindle the fuse. It’s a great team.

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Why do you think Sam and Mattie’s bond is so strong?

I believe they found each other when each of them needed a friend, and they are grateful to have one in their life.

It’s great to see how families and the city have come together to support Sam and Mattie. Why was this important?

Despite everyone’s motivation, ambition and best intentions, it is still difficult to make a first film. Because there is so much that you don’t know. For example, my brother Bobby and Bennett Yellin and I had been writing scripts for a decade when we had our first movie Stupid and even more stupid done, but we still needed help. Lots of help. From people who understood camera lenses and lighting and who collected money, hair, wardrobe and a million other things.

Sam and Mattie wrote a great screenplay, but they needed some help making it through and they got it with Sam’s brother Jesse and Bobby Carnevale, their families, the city and even the State of. Rhode Island. This is why I am so proud to be from Rhode Island. It’s a small enough state that everyone is about two degrees apart and there is a connection if you come from Rhody. We support each other.

(Dwight Wilkerson / Small Frye Photography)

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