Clark Collis' new book, You've Got Red on You: How Shaun of the Dead Was Brought to Life, sees the Entertainment Weekly senior writer tackling both the creation and success of the romantic comedy with zombies (or rom-zom-com for short), along with following the careers of its primary creatives, director/co-writer Edgar Wright, actor/co-writer Simon Pegg, and actor Nick Frost.
Collis offers up mini-biographies of each of the principal figures before tracing the way the trio came to work together on the iconic sitcom Spaced before moving into their first feature film together. Unsurprisingly, the road to Shaun of the Dead's creation was a rocky one and were it not for the enthusiasm of those involved in its creation, as well as the dedicated fans of Spaced whose volunteer numbers swelled the zombie ranks, it seems as though there were many points where this now-classic film could've fallen apart.
Thanks to the author's seemingly inexhaustible trove of people with whom to speak, there is no shortage of new information about which to ooh and ah over. Collis speaks with Wright, Pegg, and Frost, along with all of the major actors in the film, as well as tracking down those who volunteered as extras to get a sense of just what it was like from all angles. This is a fascinating commitment to granular detail, but when Collis applies the same approach to covering the financial aspects, in terms of securing funding and the hoops jumped through to procure it, You've Got Red on You gets a trifle bogged down.
That said, for those looking to put together their own indie film, it's invaluable, as every aspect of the filmmaking process is covered. Props, set decoration, location scouting, casting, financial – each and every segment is touched upon in some detail, making You've Got Red on You a less-scatological, updated version of Troma head Lloyd Kaufman's All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger.
However, despite its in-depth approach to moviemaking, it's the emotional heft that the book brings to bear which makes You've Got Red on You such a wonderful read. So many relationships grow and expand over the course of Collis' book that readers will find themselves falling in love with Shaun of the Dead – to say nothing of Wright, Pegg, and Frost – all over again, twenty years on.