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Zombie Filmmakers Have Stellar Advice for Other Teens With Down Syndrome

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Last year Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt made headlines when they launched a Kickstarter campaign to gain funding for their yet-to-be-titled zombie movie. After just three weeks on the crowd funding site, 1,494 backers donated $68,936 to the teens, and in August, Suchmann and Zufelt finished principal shooting the film. So what’s next for the boys? Not only are they looking forward to releasing the film this spring, but they’re already thinking about a sequel.

Small Frye Photography

Their zombie flick is currently in post-production, but in between busy school schedules and the production of a documentary about the making of their film, Suchmann and Zufelt made some time to chat with The Mighty via e-mail. They also shared some awesome photos from the set, and we got an inside look at candid moments with the cast and crew. The teens, who met in elementary school while competing in Special Olympics, discussed their first filmmaking experience and offered advice to other youth with Down syndrome.

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The Mighty: When you realized you met your Kickstarter goal (and then some!) what was your first reaction?
Sam: OMG
Mattie: It was awesome!

The Mighty: Do you have a favorite character in the film?
Sam: Tom the little nerdy kid, because he makes geekiness so cool
Mattie: Favorite character was Pauly D because he’s Pauly D.

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The Mighty: If you could choose three words to sum up the experience of making the movie, what would they be?
Sam: Fun, creative,powerful
Mattie: Fun, funny, entertaining.

The Mighty: What was your favorite part about filming? Least favorite part?
Sam: [My favorite part was] the social life behind the scenes…eating together, laughing dancing and singing (particularly singing songs from “Grease”). [My least favorite part] was drama during filming and meltdowns from being hot and stressed.
Mattie: Favorite parts were filming the spring break and boat party scenes. I had no least favorite part!

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The Mighty: Will you make a sequel to this film? Or are you interested in trying a new genre?
Sam: Yes [we are] working on a sequel, maybe with Zompires and werewolves, but we might try other genres too.
Mattie: Possibly set in the south, maybe with werewolves.

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The Mighty: What advice do you have for other teens with Down syndrome about following their dreams?
Sam: Never change who you are, follow your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you different and s*%ew the haters! Be timeless… rock on, go wild!
Mattie: Do what you gotta do, you can do it.

Not only did the best friends write and and star in the film, but they had visits from a number of famous faces, including DJ Pauly D and legendary director Peter Farrelly. Director Robert Carnevale shared his thoughts on the film’s Facebook page and wrote, “Watching Sam and Mattie grow over the past few years has been amazing. But even more amazing is how much I’ve found myself growing and learning from them every day.”

Small Frye Photography

The young men will also be the subject of a documentary about the making of their movie, so we’ll be looking forward to that as well. And the trailer? We hope to get our eyes on that by the end of the year.

Originally published: September 15, 2015
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