Owatonna Film Maker Prepares To Release “Zombies: The Movie”


Zombies The Movie

Hollywood, California is widely known as the movie making capital of the world. Rightfully so, as the many studios of Hollywood together released approximately 300 movies in the year of 2015. Although, that number is small potatoes compared to the number of independent films made each year. In 2013 alone, over 4,000 indie feature films and over 8,000 short films were submitted to the Utah-based event, Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival competition in the country.

Minnesota may be a few thousand miles away from the “action,” but that hasn’t held back Owatonna resident Hamid Torabpour from creating motion pictures of his own. Hamid has had a passion for creating movies since he can remember, but with dreams at such a scale, deniro is a large part of the equation and i’m not talking Robert.

Owatonna Church

One Sunday morning, he and his family attended church service. The pastor walked up and down the aisle speaking his sermon to the congregation. He passed the Torabpour family, then stopped, turned to him and proclaimed, “God wants you to make movies!” In that moment, Hamid knew he must not give up on his wish to be a part of the big screens.

Children celebrating at a Color Dash event
Children celebrating at a Color Dash event

Hamid and his wife, Camille began brain storming business ideas which would enable them to fund the high dollar production bill of a motion picture. It wasn’t long before they became successful by creating a 5k Family Fun Color Run, The Color Dash. Giving 50{a43c2147d37bcf8b898f59ebaaf066dc60bd9fbfc7430ae40ed3f9adbaab469e} of their profits to partner charities, The Color Dash has donated over 2.5 million dollars in just three years. It’s important to Hamid and Camille that they share not only their fortunes, but also their praise by giving God the credit for allowing their dreams to come true.

Hamid Torabpour
Hamid Torabpour promoting The Color Dash 5k

On to his third film, Hamid is eager to release Zombies, a film which he not only wrote the screenplay for, but also directed and produced. So far, he has been apart of two films and a television pilot prior to Zombies. His first film, To Say Goodbye, depicts the aftermath of suicide. “I still get emails and messages about how people’s lives have changed because of the movie! They now want to live.” Hamid then took on the title of Producer for the movie War Pigs, a World War Two story starring Mickey RourkeDolph Lundgren and UFC fighter Chuck Liddell.

To Say Goodbye War Pigs

In the beginning of October 2015, film crews came from all over the United States to take part in the making of Zombies. An array of actors, actresses, stuntmen, camera operators, art departments and more shacked up in dorm rooms of the claimed-to-be-haunted Pillsbury Baptist Bible College. The teams had one common goal in mind; shoot a movie in 30 days.

Luke targeting zombies in his sights
Luke targeting zombies in his sights

Hamid equally relied on the skilled hand and creative eye of locals like Minneapolis-based artist Ryan Schaddelee for special effects makeup, West St. Paul amateur wrestler and stuntman Scott Brault and his own brother Tim for cinematography. He also reached out to an old friend and composer Jon Oney to score the film.

Brothers Tim and Hamid Torabpour

Torabpour and Oney grew up attending the same church and high school together. However, they were rather acquaintances at the time than friends. After graduating high school, Oney moved to Hollywood to attend the Musician’s Institute where he studied film scoring, majoring in guitar. It wasn’t until 2009 when the two reconnected at the Steel County Fair in Owatonna, Minnesota. Oney recalls, “Hamid had a booth where he was doing martial arts demonstrations, breaking boards in half with his fists.” It wasn’t long into the conversation until they discovered a mutual love for movie creation.

Hamid Torabpour performing in a martial arts competition
Hamid Torabpour performing in a martial arts competition

If you are one to think movie making is on the side of “fun & easy,” Hamid will be the first to correct your thinking. “There were issues daily. Filmmaking is highly collaborative so you have to navigate it well. From city planning to casting to the weather, it all has to come together. If it doesn’t, you have to roll with the punches and think quickly!”

City of Owatonna, Minnesota

Torabpour asked the city of Owatonna, his hometown of 25,000 residents, for permission to block streets on a Saturday and Sunday to film crowd scenes involving dozens of zombie-painted extras. The city board members approved his request, but not without requesting a list of unattainable stipulations paired with an unrealistic deadline. In an interview with Southern Minn, Hamid commented that the city’s demands were overkill.

Among these stipulations included liability insurance policy of $1,000,000 and on top of that an auto insurance policy of $1,000,000 and a crew of security guards to keep residents and their property safe. “The city asked for unicorns and I couldn’t deliver,” he said. Road blocks such as these forced Torabpour to revise his screen play and scout for alternative locations while crews patiently waited for direction.

Zombies the movie

Fortunately, the Pillsbury campus had plenty of spooky-looking locations Hamid was able to work with. The 1886 structures included vacant hallways, a spacious church, and an underground tunnel system that connected to each building on the property. When Hamid was asked why the movie was to be made in his home town, he responded, “We wanted to boost my local hometown’s star status and the economy. Movies are a huge benefit to local communities.”

Zombies The Movie Luke and Reina
Scene of Luke and Reina in Pillsbury Church

“It was my first time writing and also directing. It’s hard to be a writer and have your movie produced on a lower budget. There were so many things that we wanted to do, that were in the script. However, we didn’t have the budget to get it done. I had some pretty elaborate fight and chase scenes, some of which we had to cut, but we did get to keep the most important ones.”

Since zombies are very popular in our current western culture, it makes sense to film and release a zombie movie, especially around Halloween. But, Hamid isn’t simply about the cheap thrills.

“My take with this film was the social issue of social media. The internet seems to give people the right to viciously tear each other apart because we disagree. Our hope is people will think twice about what they post. We can disagree and still be civil.”

Tony Todd: Zombies The Movie
Scene of Tony Todd warding off zombies

Hamid was persistent in making this project a feature film, acquiring actor Tony Todd, known for his role in Candyman (1992) and currently most recognized as the voice of Zoom, villain in the television show, The Flash. As expected, Hamid was thrilled to work with a seasoned professional such as Tony. “Tony was incredible! He is a true professional! I am very excited to work with him again,” Hamid commented.

When asked if movie-goers can expect to see more work from the Torabpour brothers, Hamid responded with an excited “Yes! We have several films in the hopper. Our next film is tentatively “Elijah” (a Bible epic) and then Hopefully a Zombies 2.”

Zombies is scheduled to be released October 6, 2016 in more theaters than you’d expect for an independent film. The movie was recently picked up by Regal Entertainment Group, the largest theater circuit in America, consisting of 7,334 screens in 588 locations in 44 states.

Hamid also secured partnership with the toy company Nerf, hosting Zombies: Nerf Attack events all over the country to promote the film. In addition, Hamid has also partnered with The American Red Cross by donating 50{a43c2147d37bcf8b898f59ebaaf066dc60bd9fbfc7430ae40ed3f9adbaab469e} of the profit from Zombies: Nerf Attack. Sign up today to slay zombies and save your fellow humans!

Zombies The Movie 2016

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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