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TV stars making teenage zombie movie with OU's participation

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
TV stars making teenage zombie movie with OU's participation
OU Cinema Studies students get professional film experience on the set of Michael Manasseri's zombie comedy, "Detention of the Dead."
Actors from Fox Network's smash hit "Glee," Summit Entertainment's vampire phenomenon "Twilight," ABC Family's college comedy "Greek," MTV's "The Hard Times of RJ Berger," Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101," and ABC Television's new series "Revenge," have descended on Pontiac, Mich., and Oakland University to star in a teenage zombie comedy that will provide real-world, professional experience for OU Cinema Studies students.

"Detention of the Dead" – directed by Alex Craig Mann and produced by Brooke P. Anderson of Gala Films and Michael Manasseri – unites comedy and horror in a "The Breakfast Club" meets "Shaun of the Dead" tale about a group of oddball high school students who find themselves trapped in detention during a zombie apocalypse. Can they put their differences aside and work together to survive the night? Fat chance! This is high school after all.

Jacob Zachar (Greek), Alexa Nikolas (Zoey 101), Christa B. Allen (13 Going on 30; Revenge), Jayson Blair (The Hard Times of RJ Berger), Justin Chon (Twilight) and Max Adler (Glee) are bringing their acting skills and loyal fan base to the production, currently shooting in the area.

Thanks to a partnership Oakland University has established with Manasseri, a Michigan actor, director and film producer, students are getting valuable professional experience while helping to create full-length feature films like "Detention," which will be distributed to commercial markets around the world. Manasseri has been able to attract various film production companies to Michigan because of the "surprisingly high production values" achievable here due to the combination of local cast and crew and special relationships like the OU partnership.

Last year, for example, 14 OU Cinema Studies students served as interns on Big Screen Entertainment Group's production of "Sucker," a comic book/science fiction comedy directed by Manasseri and filmed primarily in Pontiac. "Sucker" is now in the final stages of postproduction here and in Los Angeles and is expected to be released commercially later this year.

Many of those OU interns were hired onto other film productions in 2010 as a direct result of the experience they gained working on Sucker.

Andrea Eis, a member of the OU Cinema Studies Executive Committee said, "Our students are getting this production experience within the context of an academic environment, and that is immensely important." She added, "These are educational and professional opportunities that are wonderfully unique."

"For a lot of students, it's very hard to get that first job in production," Manasseri said. "This way, they're getting much needed professional experience while they're still students. For example, Cinema Studies students in the Digital Production class will partake in the behind-the-scenes content for Detention's DVD release."

"We are evaluating several other film projects that could be made in conjunction with OU", Manasseri said. "OU is committed to expanding its Cinema Studies program and we are working together to provide professional productions as well as ongoing workshops featuring knowledgeable industry professionals. The goal is to utilize these on-the-set opportunities to help Oakland University build a viable, state-of-the-art film production program where students attain resume building credits and invaluable experiences they won't find anywhere else."

Manasseri has strong ties to the Golden Grizzlies. His younger brother and sister, Jason and Chelsea, graduated from OU in 2009 and most of his immediate family resides in the Rochester Hills area.

To learn more about the Cinema Studies program at OU, visit oakland.edu/cinemastudies.