Dean Persons talks zombies and the pandemic in ‘World Ends at Camps Z’

Provided by Ding Wang.

Dean Persons stars as Julian in this year’s highly-anticipated Canadian zombie thriller World Ends at Camps Z.

Headlined by Age of the Living Dead‘s Anne-Carolyne Binette, World Ends at Camps Z is set during the pandemic and fixes on a camp owner that learns that the person he is selling the grounds to has evil intentions for the land. In order to stop the sale, he has tricks up his sleeve, but a zombie uprising was never one of them.  

Dean Persons, Michael Czemerys, Osawa Muskwa, Rafaela Salomão and Arthur Bussières Gallant with Ding Wang as the director.

Check out my interview with Dean!

Provided by Ding Wang.
How did you come to be a part of this movie?

Dean: So I go to university for theater in acting and someone who is in the program as well was on the casting team, that’s important for later on in the story, but I applied to it, but I got rejected. Like, I didn’t get a call or anything like even to audition. So I kind of just put that out of my mind and I continued looking for other things. But then that friend, she saw that I submitted for the role and she asked the director if I could just come in and audition that day and he said, ‘Yeah.’ so I got a text that morning and she was like, ‘yeah, if you can make it here by three, then you can audition.’ So I was going into this like totally unprepared. I had no lines memorized, I didn’t know what the script was. It was scary. So I just walked into this room and it was my first live audition during COVID, so that adds a little bit of extra stress. But yeah, I suppose I did a good enough job to get the role because I got it.

Did you know that it was going to be a zombie movie when you auditioned?

Dean: I did, yeah. I knew it was gonna be a zombie movie. I was a little confused as to what the story was going to be just because I only read the synopsis, but during the audition, I started to get the idea of where the story was going. And I was a huge fan, I guess. I was excited.

And you play Julian. How would you describe him?

Dean: Julian is someone who is passionate about things and people that he is very close to and he holds a lot of value to those people like, as you saw, without giving away too much. But he’s very attached to this campground that he’s been spending all of his summers at with his uncle Clay (Muskwa). He’s very protective in that sense. And obviously, he also doesn’t like when people threaten the things that he cares about. I think overall he’s a pretty nice guy. I like to think that he’s funny, I’d like to add that in, like he’s just the kind of guy that makes people laugh, but that was never explicitly told to me. I just made that choice myself, which hopefully was okay. 

Provided by Ding Wang.
What do you think sets this movie apart from other zombie movies?

Dean: I think that the fact that we are still going through a pandemic and that this movie revolves around that pandemic is one of the things that definitely sets it apart, because I can’t really think of a zombie movie right now that was created during a major global event that was about the major global event. I also think stylistically. You see some elements and themes of 80’s zombie movies in there, which was a nice throwback. And I feel like this movie is very character focused.It’s focused on the characters of the movie more so than necessarily the zombie situation that is going on. And when I watched it, I thought that was cool. I found that it added sort of another element to the story, like being able to get closer to the characters. 

You seem to be getting a little meta with filming- a pandemic in the real world, but also in this fictional world. What was it like doing that?

Dean: It was strange because filming felt a little bit like an escape from what was going on, but also just this huge, overbearing reminder of what was going on. We filmed up north in Montreal, Quebec, like pretty far up north in a small town with a very low population, which meant that the COVID numbers just weren’t very high, like they had one active case in the town. Before going, we had to be tested multiple times, so we’re very safe. So, when we were there filming, we were staying at this campground, actually. We were living in the RV that you see in the movie, and it felt like we were all camping and in that way, it felt like an escape because we didn’t really have to worry about getting sick because we had been tested and there were no cases really in the town. It was nice. We still took all the precautions while filming that we had to, but it was nice to get a break in that sense. But then, you know, when we’re working 12 hours a day filming, it’s constantly about what we were trying to escape from by going to film this movie. It was weird. Yeah, I don’t know how to describe the feeling. It just felt like you said, it was very meta, like, I can’t quite put a finger down on how to describe that, but it’s definitely strange.

Provided by Ding Wang.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast and with Ding, the director?

Dean: Since we were all together, like the whole time, at this campground, when we finished filming, we would just hang out by a campfire. So we felt close pretty quickly. I remember, even in the first rehearsal, I felt very comfortable with everybody right away. Like with Anne-Carolyne, or ACE as we called her, on set, we were just joking around the first day we met and that just helped build the chemistry of the cast. We were able to joke with each other and be ourselves with each other and I appreciated that a lot. Working with Ding was really interesting. He was so hyper-focused when we’re filming. When I wasn’t in a scene, I would watch from a distance and you can tell so many thoughts are going through his head all at once while he’s watching the scene unfold. It was cool to work with someone that has that much passion.

Is there anything that you want your audience to walk away with after watching World Ends at Camps Z?

Dean: As cheesy as it might be- in the movie we see that even though my character hates quite a few of the other characters because they’re threatening his lifestyle, that when we, like as people, need to work together, despite our differences, we can find a way to do that.

Provided by Ding Wang.
World Ends at Camps Z  is now available on Digital and On Demand