'Life After Beth' Takes a Personal Approach to a Zombie Apocalypse

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Jeff Baena wrote the script for Life After Beth ten years ago and then, when it never went into production, he practically forgot about it. Until real-life girlfriend Aubrey Plaza was looking for a starring vehicle and she and Baena realized that the time was ripe for the zombie romantic dramedy to make its debut, with Baena taking the reins as a first-time director.

The film takes place during a zombie apocalypse, but focuses on a specific relationship within that world—a mourning man who gets an undead version of his ex-girlfriend back. “I wrote this with the intention to direct it, so I knew if I was going to make this movie, I wouldn’t have a lot of money, and in order to accomplish the sense of world building or scale, it had to be more in the periphery and subordinated to the interpersonal dynamics. At the same time, it’s not even just that I had to make a cheap movie and I didn’t want to show stuff,” Baena explains of his narrative decisions to Moveable Fest. “Personally, whenever I’ve been through any traumatic experience or anything on the scale of a zombie attack — for me, it would be hurricanes because I grew up in Miami — you’re not dealing with an objective experience. You’re dealing with a very personal subjective experience, so instead being the guy that is the meteorologist at the call center figuring out how to save the day from the storm or the fisherman out at sea who has to get back in time, you’re just some guy that’s stuck in a house with your family with the shutters up.”

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