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SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington state recently passed a 10 year extension for film tax incentives, granting films and TV shows created within state borders financial help under certain circumstances.

TV shows like Z Nation. The zombie apocalypse's cast and crew once again have taken over Spokane.

Z Nation is just one of the many parts of Washington state’s film industry. The industry is said to bring millions of dollars to the state each year, create jobs and give an economic boost to local businesses.

The recent legislation extended the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program until 2027 and has allowed the industry to continue to grow.

Z Nation creators, cast and crew are in town shooting season four of the hit Syfy channel show. Show creators said they are here for a concise list of reasons.

“We came for the incentive and stayed for the location and the crew,” Executive Producer Karl Schaefer said.

Schaefer is the man behind all the TV magic for Z Nation. He said there is no way the show would be able to film in the Evergreen State without help from the state legislature.

The state's ten year extension for film tax incentives grants film and TV producers financial help from the state if they shoot in Washington and employ its residents.

So, Z Nation creators set out to employ Washington residents. One of them is local state representative from District 3, Marcus Riccelli.

“I'm taking this real seriously. I mean this is a fun opportunity but also I don't want to look like the only person who doesn't know what they’re doing,” Riccelli said.

Riccelli was one of the sponsors of the bill pushing for film tax incentives.

“This means jobs and economic development,” the State representative said.

Producers of the zombie show agree, the state of Washington has a lot to offer in creating their TV show.

“You can play anywhere. It can be urban, it can be rural, it can be industrial,” Jody Binstock, Z Nation Co-Producer, said.

Several places around Spokane have served as the backdrop to Z Nation landscapes. However, filmmakers said it is not just the diverse landscapes that are inviting, it is also the people.

"Part of what makes the show so funny and weird are the people making it funny and weird," Schaefer said.

There are around 90 cast and crew regularly working on Z Nation and a majority of them are from the state of Washington.

"It allows people to be employed for a very very long time, and it not only affects them, it affects their kids, their parents, and their grocery, and their mechanic and the spider web goes very very long,” Binstock said.

In the end it's really about giving people the opportunity to work. Two of the shows characters, Sleezy and Sketchy, are played by actors Doug Dawson and Mark Carr. Dawson is from Spokane and Carr is from Seattle.

"It's great. I am actually from Spokane so when our episode rolls around each season I'm working right from home, I'm staying in my own bed getting professional work so it's fantastic,” Dawson said.

"You know the film incentive is a massive boost for the economy around here and for people who like us who have sort devoted our lives to this art form,” Carr said.

The massive economy boost will continue as filming for season four of Z Nation is set to wrap up at the end of September.
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[personal profile] froodle
EXCLUSIVE: As we await Season Four of Z Nation to begin, I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with co-creator Karl Schaefer.

“It’s a man eat man world!”

Z Nation first aired Sept 12, 2014. It began as a low-budget series, with big dreams. Filmed in Spokane, Washington, they have a multifaceted arena to use. From mountains to woods to cityscapes, they are able to make us believe the characters are traveling across America. The show has taken fans by storm with a unique view of what a zombie apocalypse would look like, and kept us laughing along the way.

With Season 4 arriving next month, Z Nation co-creator Karl Schaefer paid a visit to 1428 Elm to talk with me about the Syfy series. You can read the entire exclusive interview below!

What was your inspiration for creating a zombie show with the humorous twist?

My inspiration for everything I write is real life. Real life mixes tragedy with humor, and some of the funniest things that happen occur in very dark times. We also determined from the beginning that humor was a necessary survival skill, and that people with no sense of humor would just curl up and die in the zombie apocalypse.

When you first decided to create Z Nation, did it start with Murphy’s character and build around him?

Z Nation began as a group of survivors going to California to find a vaccine. In writing the pilot, I decided to turn the “vaccine” into a human being who had the antibodies they needed for a vaccine. This made the characters’ mission important to the whole planet, not just themselves.

Had you planned from the start on creating new and unique zombie hybrids?

Yes. We wanted to be the anti-Walking Dead. They have the same slow zombies they had from the beginning. We wanted to mutate our zombies to keep the threat ever evolving. Where The Walking Dead is all about DREAD – you know something bad is coming and you wait three episodes for it to happen. We’re all about the unknown and surprise, we wanted the audience to not know what was around every corner.

As a co-creator of the show, did you have a preconceived overview of each season and then leave it to other writers to bring them to life? Or do you give them specifics that must happen for each episode?

Before starting the show, I had a basic outline of where the first five seasons went, and what a possible finale might be. Each season when the writers get together I lay out a basic plan for the season, then all together as a group we break up each story and outline it in detail as a group. Then an individual writer goes off to do the first few drafts, then I rewrite the script to fit our locations and the casting in Spokane.

Did you envision going into the show that Z Nation would be the hit it is today?

Nobody expected us to be a hit. We’re the little show that could. We get higher ratings than shows with 10 times our budget.

I read that you have a five-year story arc and with its popularity has that changed along the way?

The show becomes its own thing that grows organically as all the different people, actors, crew, writers, and audience, add their own ideas and talent. I just try to keep it all going in the same direction, while being open to letting the show go where IT wants to go.

Have there been any thoughts of a spin-off show when Znation does come to an end?

Yes. We may do a spinoff about Black Summer.

All the fans are anxiously awaiting season 4 to start, can you give us any tidbits of what to expect?

It’s a season filled with mysteries. The heroes have a new mission, driven forward by a prophetic dream Warren has about the end of the world. The zombie virus has mutated again, and now zombies are nearly unkillable. They no longer die when you kill the brain, you have to completely destroy them. Plus we get to see more of Zona this season.

Thank you, Karl, for taking a moment out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for the fans. We are all looking forward to more zombie fun.

Thanks Theresa. Anytime.
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We’re rewatching Z Nation on Netflix, and today we’re looking back at when the show hits a new high in episode 112 “Murphy’s Law”.

The “Operation Bite Mark” gang comes across a Country Club, filled with “middle-class” zombies. After trapping themselves inside the clubhouse, things get a bit dicey. They are quickly aided by a few new strangers, that once again are too nice to be true.

Zombie golf, anyone?

Meanwhile, Murphy (Keith Allan), who can walk amongst the zombies, practices his golf swing. This leaves the newbies to question why he can do this, and they develop a scam of their own.

Murphy’s big mouth gets himself kidnapped by the new gang, however, he devises a plan to leave a “trail of crumbs.” With the help of a random spy cam, he leaves clues for Citizen Z to lead his friends back to him.

It so happens that the kidnappers want Murphy to waltz into a horde of crazed zombies, at an untapped drug lab, so they can load up on OxyContin. Upon arrival at Mesa Pharmaceuticals, they find the zombies tearing about and it’s clear that they have consumed different drugs, from speed to Viagra! Plus, Murphy discovers that he has some more tricks in his blood stream. He’s evolving into something else.

Aided by Citizen Z, and an errant road sign, of course the gang find Murphy and help him to escape the trouble he’s in. They also get a first-hand look at his new power.

They then use a radio in the office to talk with Citizen Z. He informs them that he discovered that Dr. Merch (Lisa Coronado), whom they need to see in California, may not have made it all the way there herself. So, he redirects them Fort Collins Colorado for the next and final episode of season one.
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Skeezy’s Brown Ale, 5 Rights Brewing, Marysville

Style: Brown ale

Stats: 5.8 percent ABV, 30 IBU

Available: On tap at the brewery, NYP Everett, Emory’s on Silver Lake and Creekside Alehouse and Grill.

My thoughts: Church and zombies rarely go together, but for 5 Rights owner and head brewer R.J. Whitlow they do — and the combination inspired a new beer series.

Whitlow, who was the media director for Northshore Christian Church for 16 years, met Dan Merchant while the producer visited the Everett church to promote his film, “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” in 2008. When Merchant debuted his next project, “Z Nation,” a post-apocalyptic zombie show on Syfy a few years ago, Whitlow and his wife, Kristi, couldn’t help but dive in.

“It’s a total guilty pleasure and very bingeable,” Whitlow said. “It has no gravity on our life, so we can just sit back and enjoy.”

The show is shot in Spokane and has a number of memorable characters, including Murphy, the only known survivor of the zombie infection. Because of the local connection and his friendship with Merchant, Whitlow reached out to the show’s creator to see if it would be possible to brew some beers in tribute to the show.

“I was worried about rights and all of that and Dan was like, ‘Oh, I own all of it. Go for it,’” Whitlow said.

Skeezy is named after one of two low-life grifters on the show, Skeezy and Sketchy, who travel around the zombie wasteland getting into mischief and stealing money to build a wall. (Sound familiar?)

The ale named after Skeezy is a nicely balanced American-style brown. Hopped with Centennial, Willamette and Cascade hops, the brown ale has a solid malt backbone like any good brown, but the hops give it an assertive if measured hop character that complements the malt well. The beer is a drinkable 5.8 percent and isn’t too sweet like many brown ales.

The brown is the second in the Z Nation Tribute Series, which kicked off with the Z Wacker IPA, named in honor of the spikey baseball-bat-like weapon popular in the show. Z Wacker is an IPA made with Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops. The late addition of hops and some dry-hopping gives the beer a big tropical nose and a dry finish. It’s on tap at the brewery and NYP Everett.

When he finally brings his 10-barrel brewhouse online later this spring, Whitlow plans to brew more beers in the series, including a Citizen Z Pale Ale made with HBC 431 hops, a saison, Belgian dark strong and a not-so-Irish red ale named after the star of the show, Murphy.

He’s hoping one day to even parlay it into a bit part as a zombie entree.

“Kristi and I would love to be extras on the show,” Whitlow said.

Season 4 of Z Nation is scheduled to premiere on Syfy in the fall of 2017.

From the brewery: The second in our series of tribute beers to our favorite zombie apocalypse show, “Z Nation” gives a shout-out to one of our favorite post-apocalyptic shysters and all around patriotic and fun-loving characters. Like our friend Skeezy, this American brown ale is not quite as advertised, bringing a bold and assertive hoppy edge to a typically malty, rich and somewhat sweet character of this chocolate malt forward style. Our generous use of Centennial and Cascade hops will help make America America again.
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[personal profile] froodle
Check out the names of some of these scientists, guys. We might see Justin Shenkarow's character Iggy again. Steve didn't get eaten by dogs, and apparently they sent him top a fairly high-end medical school. Harold is probably one of Marshal's New Jersey cousins.

Read more... )


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