Z-O-M-B-I-E-S- 2 was just released in February of this year. This follows up to the award-nominated (Canadian Cinema Editors) film Z-O-M-B-I-E-S sees Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly returning in this Paul Hoen (multiple DGA award winner) directed teen comedy/musical/romance story populated with supernatural/horror characters. A large part of what makes the film not just another status quo teen film is its uncommon blend of creatures-meets-teens with exceptional talent throughout the production. Not since “Thriller” have you seen nightmarish creatures move with such grace to create such a dazzling spectacle.
Michael Scheitzbach and Kevin Scheitzbach (also known as dance due FlowXS) appear in Z-O-M-B-I-E-S- 2 as these ironically graceful undead/cursed beings (and others). These Canadian brothers have been in a number of productions but their work this Disney film has brought them to the epicenter of film making on planet Earth; a red carpet premiere in Hollywood. Z-O-M-B-I-E-S- 2 is where fun, horror, music, and dancing meet. The film is a sign that with the proper talent behind a production, the most unexpected genres of film are being welcomed by a modern audience.
It is quickly evident that the work of Michael and Kevin in this film is an ideal example of acting within dance. Director Paul Hoen gave specific input about the different emotional qualities and motions he wanted to see in the different characters being portrayed. The physicality with which cheerleaders, werewolves, and zombies are imbued is remarkably different by necessity. The embodiment of these different characters by FlowXS is so disparate that it seems unimaginable that they are in fact the same dancers.
Such a presentation required extensive research and training. Michael relates, “The physicality of each character was really fun to try and train for. As a cheerleader, I would watch clips of other cheerleading sets online as well as ask questions to the professional cheerleaders and coaches we had in rehearsals and onset. For example, when we were learning the ‘Fired Up’ dances in both Z1 and Z2, we had to learn how to keep proper form and technique with and without pompoms and while clapping.
We had to learn proper lifting and catching so everyone was safe and it looked effortless. As a zombie, trying to find new ways to push the boundaries of creating interesting shapes within our freestyling and dancing while staying in character was demanding and exciting.
On our breaks or downtime, some of us would be dancing in a cypher or dance circle and just trying to do new things and get our brains going.” Kevin adds, “In regards to the character of a werewolf, there were many moments where Paul [Director] told us to be fierce and intimidating. This involved a lot of creature-like movements, aggressive body language, and intimidating facial expressions.
We had to growl, hiss, and look like we were ready to attack anything or defend ourselves. At another point in the movie, the werewolves were getting sick and dying because they couldn’t recharge from the moonstone. This required acting as if I was very sick, with no energy; weak and fragile. On the other end of the spectrum, playing a zombie required me to act excited, happy, and enthusiastic because Zed [a zombie]was running for school president.
When Zed’s Z band malfunctioned and he started acting like a mean zombie, I had to reassure the Seabrook students that they wouldn’t get hurt.” It’s obvious from these comments that Z-O-M-B-I-E-S- 2 and the work of FlowXS in this film pushed the definition of these types of characters into a completely innovative realm.
It’s highly unusual for the same artist to appear as multiple different characters in the same film. Zombies 2 choreographer Jennifer Weber worked extensively with the cast to hone the differences in the characters for the film, especially the musical features. As highly experienced dancers, Michael and Kevin worked closely with the film’s lead actors to help them perfect their moves for these all-important dance numbers.
Kevin appears as one of the main werewolves in the pack appearing in many of the main dance scenes such as “Fired Up Reprise”, “We Own the Night”, “Call to The Wild”, “Flesh and Bone”, and “One For All” as a werewolf but switches to a zombie for numbers such as “I’m Winning.” Michael is seen as a zombie (“We Got This”, “Like the Zombies Do”, “I’m Winning”, “One For All”, “Flesh and Bone”), a werewolf (“Call to the Wild”), and a cheerleader (“Fired Up Reprise”) throughout the film.
Their appearances in the story as these different characters testify to the belief of the director and choreographer that they were the “ringers” in making so many of these featured musical pieces come across realistically to the audience. The twelve to fifteen-hour shooting days included overnight filming which was particularly taxing on the physical demands of the dance scenes.
When not filming, the FlowXS schedule was also taken up with teaching dance classes in downtown Toronto. Both members of this dance duo confirm that the chaos of this time period was well worth it when they attended the red carpet premiere of this Disney film in Hollywood earlier this year. Kevin recalls, “I have never experienced anything like it. The cast was seated alongside family members while Disney executives, the movie writers, director, producers, choreographer, and many other Disney stars were all in attendance.
Seeing the movie on a giant screen was slightly overwhelming but also one of the best experiences of my life. Seeing myself on the big screen was an epic experience because I was myself doing what I love on such a massive scale.” Disney is the home of doing entertainment on a massive scale and it’s likely that FlowXS will continue to be a part of that tradition.