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Nuclear lab facility becomes movie set for students' zombie film

November 3, 2012 5:50pm
After making a major contribution to science with its involvement in the search for the so-called "God particle," the prestigious CERN nuclear research lab is now making a contribution to filmdom, too.

CERN recently served as a set for a "Zombie," a science movie by physics students that dwells on what happens when the Higgs Boson particle turns out to have horrific side effects.

“The dark, creepy atmosphere got us thinking it would be a great location for a horror film,” writer-director Luke Thompson, a Ph.D. physics student at the University of Manchester who thought of the idea in 2010, said in an email to tech site Wired.com.

The feature film, titled "Decay," is set entirely at the Large Hadron Collider.

In the film, zombies were created due to exposure to the recently discovered Higgs Boson.

The idea for the film came when Thompson was exploring the maintenance tunnels of the European Organization for Nuclear Research with fellow student Hugo Day.

Day eventually became the film's fight choreographer and "props guy."

Involved in the film as well was Clara Nellist, another Ph.D. student at Manchester, who served as assistant director and associate producer.

The three used $3,225 of their own money for the movie, which took them two years to complete. It is to be released before end-November as a free download.

The film's story is set in the underground tunnels of the Geneva research center, and looks at what happens to a small group of students when the particle accelerator malfunctions and "zombifies" its maintenance crew.

But the movie was filmed only in areas accessible to anyone working at CERN, though CERN officials did not endorse the project.

'For free'

The three also decided to make "Decay" available for free and remixable through a Creative Commons license.

“We’ve been given a great and rare opportunity to have fun and make something awesome, so making money was never the point. We’re hugely proud of what we’ve achieved — the fact is that it’s a no-budget indie and there’s no reason to expect we’d sell more than a few hundred copies. So we’d rather our two years of work was seen by more people by releasing it for free,” Thompson said.

Indie film

The movie has the ingredients of "Night of the Living Dead," a classic by George A. Romero in 1968.

Romero's movie had been filmed mostly in rural Pennsylvania and used cheap props to lower production costs.

Like its 44-year-old counterpart, "Decay" leaned heavily on the do-it-yourself attitude of indie filmmakers.

Despite their lack of experience, Thompson and company borrowed digital SLR cameras, recruited 17 other people, and made fake blood.

Wired.com said the film might also prove educational, with Thompson noting the theme and location "also gave us a great chance to do some satirical commentary on various aspects of people’s perceptions of science.”

“So there are some hidden depths to the film too, beyond us just having fun!” he said.

For its part, CERN told Wired/com the movie was not filmed in the sensitive LHC tunnels.

“The story is amusing and pure fiction, but shows how pure science can stimulate creativity,” it said. — LBG, GMA News
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