"The Door" by Hetong Zhang

After a critical zombie attack, the only survived police must face an investigation from his superior that reveals a painful fact.

"The Door" by Hetong Zhang

Check out the Q&A with the filmmaker below:

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
 
Not really. Believe it or not, I am not a big fan of horror films because I'm fearsome at some point, but I learned a great deal about horror films at school and their impact on modern film history.
 
Due to the pandemic impact in 2020, I lost the chance to make my thesis film, a piece that may break into my film career. The Door, one of my school projects, which was a practice to one of my film courses, has become the last film I ever made during my undergraduate study, and I think that I don't have much choice to define myself as a certain type film director, but to be a part of a horror community as a start of my film career is not bad at all, right?
 
As a witness to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, I begin to ask myself, "What is the meaning of making a film?". A famous Chinese filmmaker Zhangke Jia spoken at a film festival last year. "There are only two types of film left after the pandemic. One is the before-pandemic, and the other is the after-pandemic". Living through the COVID-19, I begin to concern more about making the after-pandemic films right now, which means I would make or participate in the film as long as the film can be last and has a timeless meaning to the human condition.
 
However, at the end of The Door, the upcoming mission to police officer Liu and the uncertain destiny of the unfounded police officer Wang are suggested as untold stories that can be extended into a larger film, which may help me to get closer to the horror community in the future.
 
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
 
Reference is always important. Watching good relevant films can be an efficient way to build the world of the film, but I believe if you want to better narrative, you need to build a character that is strongly connected to the real world. The emotion that is delivered from the character to the audience should be authentic. This is why I prefer to look for a reference from the real world. I did talk to my friend who works in the local police department, but he did not like my idea of having a villain in their team. I agreed with him since the real world surrounding me and the experience I gained in the past do not support the idea of developing a zombie story connected strongly with reality. I had to focus on building the connection with the audience psychologically by creating the atmosphere rather than convincing the audience through physical settings, such as the opening scene with flashback works well. You have to be flexible during the creation process and always looking for the chance to resonate with the audience. I just learned those things during the making of The Door, so I wish I could bring some better works in the future.
 
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
 
Go and get the vaccine if there is any! Or stay home, or wear the mask when going out! I would help reduce the risk of infestation to the community. But in most zombie films, the virus is transmitted through contact with an infected person's blood, not like the Covid-19 is capable of spreading through the air. So, be safe!
 
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
 
It may be the someone has not appeared in the film yet.
 
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
 
Jason;Stephen King;Practical ;Pre Apocalypse
 
(If applicable) How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
 
I was lucky enough to have an amazing production art team assembled by students from my current school, Central Academy of Drama, and some friends from Beijing Film Academy and the Communication University of China. We have a tight budget, but they did their best to fit into the harsh situation.
 
From my perspective, there are two types of zombies in cinema. One is fresh, and one is decayed. The decayed one requires a lot of work from the art department, and our budget could not support it. The fresh one is much easier to achieve. I think it has become the most low-budget zombie film choice.
 
It's rare to find a zombie film made in China, so I do not have to make something different. It is unique right away. I want to reflect on the real world, so I did ask the art department to achieve the sets as real as possible. It saves a lot of money. Oh, the police car was decorated base on my grandparent's car.
 
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
 
The destiny of death. Not long time before, I start to prepare The Door. I experienced a panic attack when I heard that I lost a very close colleague, John Sheils, a visual effects veteran from New Zealand and best known for his work on The Lord of the Rings. We built a strong relationship during the work in a feature film in China when I was his assistant. I took care of him when he got sick. It was my first time to experience the loss of life in my young adulthood, so I start to search for the answer to how to face the destiny of death as a human. This experience inspired me to make this film, and I did discuss it in my film.
 
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
 
The Shining and Final Destination? There are tons of good scary movies. As a beginner in the film industry, I still learn from and appreciate good movies. Although I made a horror film, it does not mean I am not fearsome sometimes when watching other scary movies.