Sunday, February 12, 2017


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Director, writer, producer, and few things more, all that is Dan Merchant, a talented and prolific artist developing great stories now, in “Z Nation” a Syfy Tv Serie. “Z Nation” is a famous and very entertaining show about an apocalypse zombie and yes it’s not a new thing on the table, but you must know that sometimes is not what you tell but how you tell it, and this Tv serie tells about a zombie apocalypse very particular with a sly humor and good stories, and I had the pleasure to talk with Dan Merchant; producer, writer and director of the show and the following was what he told me.

EFF: Where are you from?

DM: I was born in california but have lived most of my years in the pacific northwest (portland, oregon & seattle, washington).

EFF: When began your journey on the film industry?

DM: As a youngster I wrote comedy skits for talent night at summer camp and really enjoyed the creative process and making people laugh. That led into high school drama, short films and television projects in college and then a career in television followed. My initial projects were local television shows and commercials which eventually led to Hollywood projects like "Strange Frequency" and "Z Nation".

EFF: You have been producer, writer and director per equal, what role do you enjoy more and why?

DM: Each role offers something different and comes with different challenges.  As an experienced producer I enjoy the big picture strategy and working with other veteran talent.  As a writer I enjoy the creative burst of the writing room and the solitary "dream it up" part of the process (though it may be the hardest).  Directing is it's own creative discipline, the chance to bring the vision to reality.  Directing is much like a sport in that you are working against the clock (and the budget) and you have to marshall the resources and energy of the entire team in order to achieve the goal.  The camaraderie on set, working with the actors and the physical demands set directing apart from the other, more relaxed, aspects of production.

EFF: What is the best z nation episode you written and directed, and why?

DM: Hmmmm.  That's a tough one.   I liked "The Siege of Murphytown" from season 3 because it was a big episode, lots of set pieces and we had to bring many storylines together - The Warren-Murphy confrontation was very cool (they're so good).  I also loved "The Collector" from season 2.  I like that combo of dark humor and horror and it was fun to work the scenes with Murphy (Keith Allan) and The Collector (Tom Beyer).  Usually there is so much to juggle but some of those two person scenes with those guys are among my favorite moments. 
Scene: Season 2 - Epidode 8"The Collector"

Season 3 - Episode 12

EFF: How did you get into "Z Nation"?

DM: I was invited into the writer's room for season one by showrunner/ep Karl Schaefer. We had worked on ideas together in the past and he was familiar with my sensibilities and broad skill set.  I moved into a co-executive producer and director in season two and we've just been working as hard as we can ever since.

EFF: What is the best challenge of directing and writing a Tv Series as “Z Nation”?

DM: The budget on z nation is a modest one which means we have to work quickly and have fewer shoot days and less resources than most hour dramas.  Our challenge is to make the most ambitious, exciting, excellent show within these strict confines.  We often marvel that z nation has more action and excitement than shows with 2x or 3x our budget and that is a challenge we enjoy trying to meet.
Dan Merchant

EFF: Why changed from documentaries to a Zombie Tv Series?

DM: I like storytelling in all its forms.  I recently co- hosted a morning radio show at Kink-fm in Portland - so telling stories and doing bits between songs is yet another way I like to connect with an audience.  Documentaries are definitely a work of passion and often take many years to create.  I'll do another documentary sometime I'm sure but it's sure been fun making crazy, funny, scary z nation episodes.

EFF: For those people who haven't seen “Z nation” yet. What is “Z Nation” and why they must see it?

DM: Z nation is a fast, funny and thrilling action adventure set in the Zombie apocalypse in America.  Oddly hopeful and empathetic, “Z Nation” follows a group of survivors on a mission to save humanity by protecting the only man to survive a zombie bite and transport him to a medical laboratory in hopes of creating a vaccine.  Rich characters, all kinds of weird zombies, sly humor and all the gross zombie action a true fan of the genre could desire.

EFF: Zombie world has been uprising itself from certain years ago, why do you think this horror category it's attracting more and more people?

DM: Good question.  I think horror/suspense projects are especially popular in uncertain times.  In America it's been a bit of a roller coaster since the attacks of 9/11 so I suspect that and the ensuing wars/violence lingers in the subconscious of horror fans.  “Z Nation” and other movies/TV shows become an outlet or release for this tension.

EFF: Asylum is very well known for its "b movies" parodying the concept of other famous movies, for that reason I must to ask you what relation keeps “Z Nation” with “The Walking Dead”?

DM: I don't see “Z Nation” as a parody of “The Walking Dead” but rather another entry in the genre exploring the "what if" of the zombie apocalypse like 28 days later, warm bodies, dawn of the dead and so on.

EFF: What advice would you give to those want-to-be filmmakers?

DM: Write if you want to be a writer.  Make little movies if you want to be a director.  Write/make a bunch of bad stuff until you figure out your own style or voice.  Then try to connect with someone who does what you want to do and by then you'll have the right questions.

EFF: What is coming new for your career now? What do you have in folder?

DM: Presently, I'm prepping for season four of "Z Nation" and writing a couple of new supernatural/fantasy shows that i'll be able to share more about in 2017.

EFF: What would you like to do in a few years?

DM: Writing and producing more television shows and films.  Stay tuned!


DAN MERCHANT'STwitter | Facebook | Imdb WebPage

Z NATION'STwitter | Imdb | WebPage


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