Nathan: What first inspired you to set up Zombie Uprising?
Ryan Collins: Zombie Uprising began in Sept 2014. I actually acquired the business in May 2016. I attended as a player in July 2015 and had the most amazing experience. Afterwards, I contacted the business owners and began to be a zombie on a regular basis. I thought the whole concept was amazing but had lots of my own ideas I wanted to bring to the table. After a short while I acquired the business and began to put my ideas into play. I’m so proud of my team and where we have taken Zombie Uprising over the last 12 months.
N: What processes do you go through to scout out new sites, and what would be your dream location?
R.C: The sites we use really have that authentic feel about it. Looks the part, has dark rooms and that chill as you walk down corridors. When looking at sites. You just know if it will work by simply walking around it.
I have always wanted to go big in terms of location size and dreams have become a reality recently by securing what we believe to be one of if not the biggest site used for a zombie survival experience in the UK. The abandoned RAF base in Kirton in Lindsey covers 31 acres and has around 20 buildings. It has so much character and one can only imagine what real events took place there. We launched there in April this year and it was a huge success. We will now run regular events at this site and continue to build on that dream.
N: Take us through the audition process of becoming a zombie. What makes a good undead actor? What makes a good SWAT marshal?
R.C: This is a tough one, can you really teach someone to be a zombie? It is a physically demanding role as you are forever picking yourself up off of the floor. You are the star of the show, you are what the players have come to see. A mentality of wanting to give the players a great experience and putting your own spin on things really helps. As everyone has their own unique personality this really shows in the character you play. Being able to use your initiative and improvising with what is happening around you to give that extra scare is always an added bonus.
SWAT team play 2 roles. The 1st is the character. They have this real authority about them so a good pair of lungs being able to raise your voice is key. As a player, you know you are on the same side but they still have this sense of fear around them that you feel you must tip toe around them. The 2nd role is the actual running of the event. Making sure the event runs as smoothly and as safely as possible so the SWAT team must be alert at all times. As they are the only “non” dead people that players interact with then possessing a strong ability to build a rapport with players is key and to help create a picture in a players head as to what they can expect before they have even got into the building.
We have an amazing team and what is great for me to see is the friendships that generate through working at Zombie Uprising.
N: Zombie Uprising is a fast paced, immersive experience. I saw grown men scream like seven-year-old girls. What’s been some of the funniest/surprising reactions to the zombies?
R.C: It’s the element of surprise. As no one attending really knows what is going to happen everyone handles things different. As you witnessed yourself, grown men screaming is always a zombie’s personal reward for doing a great job. Men pushing their partners to the front is also a funny sight as well as leaving them on their own out in the apocalypse as they have ran back to the safe zone.
N: Any plans to do a Walking Dead themed event? Or are you happy creating your own storyline and content?
R.C: I myself, like many others am a huge fan of the series. We can take inspiration from the vast amounts of TV, film and video games that are out there, but by doing our own thing ensures that no paying customer really knows what is going to happen. We keep our events as tight lipped as possible with very little if any actual footage made available. We wouldn’t want people to get a heads up before attending now would we?
N: Both seem very fun, but what role do you prefer? SWAT marshall or Zombie?
R.C: Both are different in their own way and I enjoy playing both roles. The first people that players see are the SWAT team. They really set the tone of the event and definitely bring the element of seriousness to the table. They get to see the players before the event really starts. The look of fear on player’s faces at the start is not uncommon. If the SWAT team notice something about you, you can be sure you will be told. Zombies are what keep you on your toes, waiting behind every corner and chasing you down darkened corridors. They are the ones that terrify you and just keep going. The combination of both SWAT and Zombies are what makes the event really special and equally as terrifying. People are paying to attend a Zombie Apocalypse, and that’s what we deliver.
N: Any future plans to expand elsewhere?
R.C: Zombie Uprising are always on the lookout for new sites and we hope to bring our events to as many places around the UK. For now, watch this space.
N: Finally, favourite zombie film?
R.C: There’s so many. I really enjoy the realism in 28 days later and though it was a great film. Seeing London deserted looked great. I also loved how the film REC was shot. Slightly off subject, Resident Evil 1 and 2 on the PlayStation will always be the ultimate for me. Playing them with a bunch of mates after school terrified us all.
Tickets for Zombie Uprising are available from www.zombieuprising.co.uk