‘Every time it does feel like climbing a mountain again. I keep thinking, ‘I’ve done that film, now I’ll get a ton of offers.’ But maybe it’s because I’m trying to be more auteur-ish, and I have an interest in shooting my own stuff and doing it with creative control. Then the muse comes along again and I think, ‘Am I ready for this slog again?’ But then the ball gets rolling, and it’s not a slog – it’s wonderful.”

Meet Kyle Rankin, independent filmmaker.

Of course, some Portlanders know Rankin already. The Maine native (alongside one-time filmmaking partner Efram Potelle) was behind the Maine-made indies “Pennyweight” and “Reindeer Games” before winning the Ben Affleck-Matt Damon filmmaking competition Project Greenlight, leading to their first Hollywood feature “The Battle of Shaker Heights” (starring a young Shia LaBeouf). Since striking out on his own in Los Angeles, Rankin has made the acclaimed alien invasion comedy “Infestation” and the post-apocalyptic “Nuclear Family,” among others.

And now he’s looking to bring the carnage back home.

Rankin is preparing “Night of the Living Deb,” a Portland-set romantic zombie comedy (or “rom-zom-com” according to Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, who made the great “Shaun of the Dead”), which he plans to shoot on the streets of Portland this summer – with your help.

Turning to the ever-more-popular “crowdsourcing” route, Rankin has started a fundraising campaign at Kickstarter.com looking to raise the film’s quite reasonable budget of $99,000. Especially reasonable considering that he has assembled a cast including Michael Cassidy (TV’s “Men At Work”), David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs,” “Serenity”) and veteran character actor and scene-stealer Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper”) who has appeared in most of Rankin’s films to date.


The story of a young woman (yet to be cast) who wakes up in a handsome stranger’s house and whose “walk of shame” is disrupted by one of those zombie apocalypses you read about, “NOTLDeb” is, according to Rankin, the rare horror film with a strong female lead.

And the film’s production will partake of the best aspects of the L.A. and Maine filmmaking scenes.

“In L.A., you get to meet people doing fine financially, on TV or whatever, and then a very cool, funny indie film like ours comes along and they’re like, ‘I wanna be a part of it.’ Almost everyone attached to the film has already put in money,” says Rankin, laughing. “So I guess I’ll just be paying them their own money back.”

As for Portland, Rankin says that although Maine still doesn’t provide tax incentives to filmmakers, there are other benefits to filming back home.

“Coming back to Portland to shoot has been a dream of mine for a long time,” he explains. “There’s so much character there. Plus, I have a sense, what with the zombie marches and stuff like that, that zombies are still loved there. I’m hoping for support – people turning out to be zombies or extras. Plus, the location and housing costs in Portland are so inexpensive compared to L.A.”

In addition, Rankin says he’s always wanted to destroy his hometown. “I always think of my old apartment on the West End,” he says. “Whenever I envision anything happening, I always think of it going down on Brackett Street.”


So, should all go well, look for the shambling undead not only by Fresh Approach market, but in Monument Square, and at other local landmarks.

“Deb runs a TV camera for the local news,” Rankin explains. “She’s always wanted to be on-air and now she gets her chance. Honestly, I’d love to shoot at the Channel 6 building, since it’s so centrally located.”

At writing, the film’s fundraising campaign is well underway, with more than half of the goal pledged – much, apart from Rankin’s generous cast and crew, coming from some unexpected sources.

“I was a little worried because it feels like a very public way to fail,” jokes Rankin. “Instead, it’s been a very affirming experience. We’ve had donations from people in Australia and Germany and France – people saying ‘I love Ray,’ or ‘I have “Infestation” on DVD.’ Plus, I love cutting out the middle man.”

So if you want to help fund Portland’s own zombie apocalypse (or, you know, support one of the city’s most accomplished indie filmmakers), then head to www.kickstarter.com/projects/1364524925/night-of-the-living-deb-a-feature-film. The deadline is Saturday, so time’s running out, people – Kyle and all those zombies are counting on you.

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.



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