Social News Daily reached out to Jon Hurst, the man who directed the Sundance Film Festival documentary When The Zombies Comeabout his inspiration for the film, the message he meant to convey, and the fate of those poor ACE Hardware employees once corporate learned of, and subsequently damned the short film.
In case you haven’t seen When The Zombies Come, we’ve once again embedded it below. It’s about 10-minutes long, and is a simple documentary that details one small town’s plan should a zombie apocalypse ever happen. It stars late-teen to twenty-something employees of a small-town ACE Hardware, and shows them detailing their plan to fortify their place of employment against waves of undead.
The film is awesome, but ACE corporate didn’t take too kindly to their brand being associated with the film. On the YouTube post of the film, they replied:
They have also since filed a trademark complaint with YouTube, who forwarded the concern to director Jon Hurst. We reached out to Hurst to learn how the battle with ACE is faring, as well as his inspiration for the film and how he felt about the attention his documentary is getting.
Social News Daily: Tell me a bit about the process behind When The Zombies Come. What inspired you to make the film?
Jon Hurst: Well, I made it for a class assignment for my documentary film class at Georgia State University in 2011. The whole idea of making this into a documentary came from knowing my friend Alex Warner, who is the main employee telling his zombie invasion day plan. We make sure to watch The Walking Dead as soon as it is aired, and then he would just discuss the show with people at work and it would just spiral from that.
SND: Tell me about getting into Sundance and DragonCon. Did you submit the film yourself? Was the selection expected?
Hurst: DragonCon was amazing because of all the fandom, and this short documentary addresses fandom as a root. It was really interesting having people in the audience dressed up in cosplay. DragonCon was really fun and I am honored to take Best Documentary away from that festival. As far as getting into Sundance, I was really taken aback. I submitted it as a gamble, really. Then when I for the call from them, I was floored.
SND: Tell me about the response When The Zombies Come has gotten so far. Mostly good reviews? Any negative? What did you expect?
Hurst: The film has had an interesting response so far. There are some that get the intentions of the film and can find a meaning I was hoping to express, and others do not. You can’t get all good reviews, everyone’s views on what they like are different.
SND: You talked about the “meaning” you wanted to convey. What were you trying to convey exactly?
Hurst: The meaning I was hoping to express in the documentary was a dark comedic relation between killing time at work and the fandom [around zombies].
SND: Has ACE Hardware, to your knowledge, attempted to block the film on YouTube? Have they attempted to curb/control the release or coverage of the film?
Hurst: ACE has made a public statement about the film on their Twitter/Facebook and other outlets.
We are aghast and outraged that these individuals used our nationally recognized brand in this film.
— Ace Hardware (@AceHardware) January 19, 2013
We are making every effort to remove this video from all online sources.
— Ace Hardware (@AceHardware) January 19, 2013
ED NOTE: The above tweets are two of a total of five regarding When The Zombies Come. You can view them all here. I also asked whether or not the ACE Hardware store’s management approved of the filming of the documentary, but Mr. Hurst declined to answer.
SND: I have to ask. Did any of the cast get punished for their involvement in the film, up to and including termination?
Hurst: The main employee that shares his plan (Alex Warner) has not been officially fired, but he has lost all of his hours and has been taken off the schedule, though he is still an employee. Pretty much backing him into a corner to quit.
SND: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects?
Hurst: I am writing a feature film, which I hope to shoot this summer. It’s a satire. I am also (though it is not official yet) hoping to help on my friend Matt Ryckman’s next project. He has made a short that made it into the Cannes Film Festival in the past, and has given me valuable consultation. Until then, I am hoping to find some work.
We’re really tempted to say “shame on ACE” for how they’re handling this micro-controversy, but we want them to have their say too. I’ve reached out to Luke DeMarte, who sent the above email to Jon Hurst, and will let you know if he gets back to me.
Until then, we want to thank Jon Hurst for reaching out to us, and wish him the best of luck moving forward in his career. Here’s When The Zombies Come once more, and again, it’s totally worth your time:
Author: Dusten Carlson
Dusten has written for web and print and currently spends his time working on his upcoming graphic novel. He is also almost 30 and still has all of his hair.