Milan Todorovic is a serbian film director, producer and writer, who co-directed the first serbian zombie movie Zone of the Dead (2009) with Milan Konjevic from a script by Konjevic, Vukota Brajovic and Todorovic. For Zone of the Dead (Apocalypse of the Dead) he has been awarded as the best producer of the year.
In 2013 Milan directed and produced the horror fantasy movie Nymph, starring the italian actor Franco Nero and Kristina Klebe (Halloween). The director is currently preparing Zone of The Dead sequel – Wrath of the Dead. DarkVeins had the opportunity to interview him.
L: Hello Milan, tell us something about you.
M: Ciao! I am a movie fanboy. Fan of genre cinema. I love horrors, sci-fi, action, westerns… I am a comic book geek. And I make movies…
L: You’re a Serbian film director, producer and writer. What was most challenging? How did you get into filmmaking?
M: I grew up watching movies. It were the 80’s and VHS was at it’s peak. I watched tons of movies. So I wished to make my own movies when I grow up. After the highscool I got accepted at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, which is a Serbian national university for film. It was in the year 2000. I was pro-genre student at the most artistic academy. I was producing horrors and crime short films even then. Then when I got my degree (Bachelor of Film and Television Production) I said – the time has come for the first Serbian true genre movie. So picked up zombies as they were popular at that moment, but not too much as now. There were just a few zombie movies back then. It took several years to raise enough funds for the Serbian zombie movie – so once we have finished the film the wave of zombie popularity had already begun.
It is very difficult to be the producer and the director at the same project. Very hard. But I managed somehow, since I really love both aspects of filmmaking. Writing is secondary, as I don’t have enough time to relax mind for it, so I closely work with writers and they apply my ideas to the treatments or screenplays. I always wanted to be a writer… like a novelist. Hope I’ll be able to do it one day.
M: It was a fantastic ride. The making of that movie could be a movie itself. When I said I wanted to make a Serbian zombie movie everybody laughed at me here. Then I said – not only I want to make a zombie movie, I want the world’s greatest zombie killer – Ken Foree – in it. The laughter was even stronger. But then all pieces got together and I had my zombie movie starring Ken Foree! Then we got Kristina Klebe, hot from Halloween, and we got my favorite Serbian actor – Miki Krstovic, and then my childhood hero – comic book writer – Milan Konjevic – got on board and re-wrote my screenplay and accepted my offer to direct it together. And it was a great experience. It was a big movie. With lots of extras, lots of action, lots of everything. It was a pioneer work for Serbian cinema.
I think it’s a pretty cool movie. Milan and I wanted to make it like an homage to B-movies from the 80’s. You know, the movies we liked to watch when we were younger. Especially those of Carpenter. I think we managed to do so, although people didn’t really recognize our intention.
M: It’s a story of two young American women (Kristina Klebe and Natalie Burn) who go on a Mediterranean vacation and uncover the watery lair of a killer mermaid hidden beneath an abandoned military fortress.
I always wanted to make the movie that will take place at the Mamula island, which is at the entrance of Boka Kotorska bay in Montenegro, at Adriatic sea. The fortress looks very filmic. So when a friend of mine, film director Marko Backovic, suggested to me to do a movie about a mermaid that lives on that island I knew I have my new movie! There is a very few movies with mermaids, and not either one in horror genre. Not that I know. So we started developing together the background and the story outline. Then we brought in Milan Konjevic and Barry Keating to develop our story into the screenplay. Since we wanted to make this movie very fast, not to lose the summer time, we needed to cast it and prepare it while the screenplay was still under development.
I am very happy with the story, and the connections we made with the myths, legends, with “Moby Dick” and with fallout of Yugoslavia.
Also, having Franco Nero in the movie gave full speed to our imagination, so we have his character in the core of everything that happens in the movie.
L: An interesting horror movie with a killer mermaid is She Creature (Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature), written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez. I recommend you to watch it. 😉
Tell us something about the title of your movie. Why “Nymph”?
M: Well, the working title was “Mamula”, as the name of the island. Then once we started filming, everybody was using that title that we have made it official Serbian title. But… it wasn’t strong title for the international release. First we decided to use the title “Dark Sea”, but it was too generic, so one day, a week before the official presentation of the movie at Berlin film market, I was talking to CEO of Epic Pictures, Patrick Ewald, and we were throwing dozens of titles… hundreds… then I mentioned the word nymph in some context, and Patrick yelled “Stop!! We have the title!! It’s NYMPH!!”
And it makes more sense. It’s mysterious, sexy, irresistible… the mermaids are nymphs and I think that the title was the absolute right choice!
L: What’s your favorite moment in the movie?
M: It is the final battle sequence. It was very hard to film it, but it looks great and has Franco Nero and Kristina Klebe fighting the monster mermaid above the water, under the water, on the boat, on the land, with stormy waves, and cool CGI.
L: How was the casting process for Nymph? It stars the italian actor Franco Nero. Why did you choose him?
M: Well, the first one to join our movie was Kristina Klebe. She’s a very good friend of mine, and I love what she did in Zone of the Dead, and I am a huge fan of her work. She is a great dedicated and talented actress. So she was my top choice. I called her immediately as soon as I had the story in my mind. She thought it was funny that I was offering a role to her and I didn’t have the script yet, but she believed in the project and said – yes! The rest of the cast also liked the story very much, so all my top choices said – yes. Natalie Burn, Dragan Micanovic, Miki Krstovic, Slobodan Stefanovic…
As for Franco Nero… He is one of my favorite actors. And a living legend. One of the most prolific actors in the history of world cinema. He is a movie star, in the real sense of the word. And he was the perfect choice. I met him at Grossmann film festival, and I told him I have a role written for him. As soon as I started explaining the character and how would I direct it, he liked it. Because it was a character made with him in mind, and also with the most popular characters he has played in mind. So it was a Franco Nero character from the very beginning. He’s archetype of a hero. He’s name is Niko in the movie. Which means “Nobody!”.
L: Can you tell me what are you currently working on? Wrath of the Dead is your next zombie horror movie with Ken Foree. The movie is currently in pre-production and will be released for 2015. What can you say about it?
M: Ken Foree became a very good friend of mine after we worked together on Zone of the Dead. He called me one day and just said “We just have to make another zombie movie!” So we came up with the story together and we will produce it together. I cannot reveal too much of the plot, but when hell rises, you will be glad Ken Foree is on our side!
L: Which filmmakers and movies influence your work?
M: John Carpenter and all of his movies!
L: What’s your favorite horror movies of all time?
M: The Fog, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre… you know – the classics… But also REC, The Descent…
L: What are your future plans?
M: To make more Serbian horror movies. Not only to direct, but also to produce for other directors. And to make WRATH OF THE DEAD. And maybe NYMPH 2 if all goes well.
L: Leave a message to the DarkVeins community!
M: Horror genre is like a rock’n’roll of film art. It liberates! It’s great! Watch horror movies!
L: It’s been great talking to you, thanks!