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An Interview with Filmmaker and Director Zack Burkett and Actor Kevin Saunders, of Kung Pao Corpse

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

What do you think would happen when a delivery guy delivers pizza to a cemetery? (Funny question, right?) This was the question that came across the mind of filmmaker and director Zack Burkett, (Atlanta Film and TV's own! ) before writing the hilarious short film, Kung Pao Corpse.

Kung Pao Corpse tells the story of Ryan, a Chinese food delivery guy, and his surprising experience making a delivery.

Last week, Atlanta Film and TV sat down and chatted with Zack Burkett and award-winning actor, Kevin Saunders, who plays George Hanksmith.

Atlanta Film and TV: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what it is you do in the Atlanta Film and Television Industry.

Zack Burkett: I’m Zack Burkett, and I moved to Atlanta, GA from Maryland about three years ago to try my hand in the film industry. I’m a writer and I’ve directed a handful of short films that have screened in film festivals. I sometimes do freelance editing and I'm also a contributing writer for Atlanta Film and TV. Writing is definitely my greatest passion.

Filmmaker and Director, Zack Burkett

Kevin Saunders: I’m Kevin Saunders and I’m an actor, and I’m also a writer and director. I have worked as an Audition Coach, where I coach actors on how to prepare for their auditions. I also worked with Atlanta Movie Tours, where we showed all the filming locations for productions that were filmed in Atlanta, such as Black Panther, The Walking Dead, as well as the Marvel movies. When I’m not pursuing my acting career, I’m helping other people reach their goals and showing them the great things that are happening here in Atlanta.

Award-winning actor, Kevin Saunders

Atlanta Film and TV: Describe the process of bringing Kung Pao Corpse together?

Zack Burkett: It was a super-fun process, and everybody we worked with was incredible! It’s all thanks to our friend Pierce Lackey, who got the project in motion with an event that he hosts called, The Pool which is a showcase for local independent filmmakers. It’s like a mini film festival, minus the judging and the awards. We attended The Pool, and that was where we met Jack Ha who played Ryan in Kung Pao Corpse, and Brady Holcomb who became our director of photography.

I’d already had the idea for Kung Pao Corpse in the back of my mind, which I shared with Kevin while driving home from attending The Pool that night. I told him, Dude, you and that guy Jack would be perfect for this idea that I’ve got. I basically pitched the story to Kevin in the car and he loved the idea. Immediately after that, we got the ball rolling on the project! We were fortunate to get Jack and Brady involved in the film and everything just fell into place perfectly. Without the networking we did at Pierce’s event that night, Kung Pao Corpse would definitely never have gotten made.

Kevin Saunders: One thing I’m big on is the community here in Atlanta, and I was friends with Jack before filming this project and I also knew Pierce from an acting class we took together. So, it was cool that Zack met these guys that night, and saw how we all meshed. The Pool was an awesome event to meet other collaborators. So, when Zack brought up his idea, I thought wouldn’t it be cool if we all came together to get the film created?

Atlanta Film and TV: What was the timeframe - (from writing to filming to editing) of this entire project?

Zack Burkett: We attended The Pool event in July 2019. After meeting some of our future cast and crew, I was so inspired that I wrote the script within a day, with Kevin and Jack in mind. The vision was so clear that everything just flowed out naturally onto the page. After the script was written, we had a couple of production meetings and began planning, and that’s when we got everyone else on board.

We shot the film over two long overnight shoots in late September, from sundown until early morning. I spent a couple of weeks editing. We had a final product by October, in time for Halloween. In all, the project took about three months from conception to completion.

What was the inspiration behind Kung Pao Corpse?