Tom Berdinski – La Dolce Vita!

The Cult of Moi and Vous Film Producioni Company (aka “the great big basement”) is located in Muskegon which is on the west coast of Michigan. It is home to Tom Berdinski a man with a passion for movies. Tom produced / directed / wrote and made the tea on ‘The Italian Zombie Movie’s part 1 and 2‘.

He is a testament to what can be achieved if you are dedicated and passionate enough about what you do. He may not have a house in the Hollywood hills, but he is certainly looking at the Stars.

Tom Berdinski - Italian Zombie MovieDid you always want to be a movie director?
I think at first I just wanted to do special effects. I grew up a “Star Wars” kid, but even more than that it was the Godzilla movies and giant monster TV shows on cable in the 70’s that inspired me.

My first films involved Clay-mation monsters, puppets and even live snapping turtles all on my HO scale train board! Even at very early age I realized that special effects alone won’t interest people for long. You have to tell a story; so I think I became a filmmaker (at least initially) so I would have movies within which I could show off my effects.

How old were you when you made your first film?
I was 8 years old. My grandfather gave me an old wind up 8mm camera for my birthday and I immediately proceeded to make science fiction movies with it. I loved playing with the frame rates – shooting things in fast motion and slow motion – for comic and dramatic effect. I bought a backwind so I could do ghostly super-impositions. My parent’s basement was my studio – filled with miniatures and cardboard stages.

Can you give us a brief outline to the plot to The Italian Zombie Movies?
When his twin brother is killed on a secret mission, Sergeant Bruno Deodato, his estranged sister-in-law, an evil succubus, her oafish boyfriend, two utility workers (who might just be aliens) and the Michigan Militia inadvertently combine forces against a landfill of the living dead!

The Italian Zombie Movie is a two-part, mini-series that pays homage to (and pokes fun at) European horror movies from the 1970’s and 80s; movies like ‘Zombi 2‘, ‘Burial Ground’ and ‘City of the Living Dead‘. If you like ridiculously sexist characters, jaw-dropping dialog, chunk-blowing gross outs and more plots than a cemetery, I think you’ll like it.

What was the budget for The Italian Zombie Movies?
These were no-budget movies. What I mean by that is we did not raise any money to make them. Everyone involved was a volunteer and supplied their own costumes, props and equipment. For consumables (like blood and guts) we would pool together what money we had in our pockets and head off to the store (or butcher shop).

The cameras we used were all loaned to us from family members or picked up at Best Buy for around $300. By far our largest expense was the hard drives that stored all of our footage. We probably spent a couple thousand on hard drives over the course of the shoot.

How long did it take to make?
It took us nearly 4 years to shoot both “Italian Zombie Movies” simply because everyone involved had a day job and was volunteering their time. Scheduling soccer moms and soccer dads ain’t easy!

Tom Berdinski

After the shooting was done, it took over another year to edit, score and add the special effects to. In all, it was almost a 6 year project, but we made two 90+ minute movies in that time that we are quite happy with and that have received some great reviews and have even won a few awards.