Aaron Marshall is a young talent with an eye for editing and a knack for documentaries. He has recently released “Zombie Girl: The Movie”, a story about a 12-year old girl, Emily Hagins, who is set on making a zombie film. With the help of her mother, she pursues her dream and gets results.

I talked with Aaron in early October 2010 and got the scoop on “Zombie Girl” (and briefly tried to get more out of him on “Teeth”, but he wasn’t talking).

GS: How did you get involved with “Teeth”?

AM: A friend recommended me for the job.

GS: You were assembly editor for “Teeth”. What is an assembly editor?

AM: I worked during the production of the film to assembled each day’s footage into a rough cut of the movie for the director to watch. He would use this to make sure he was getting everything he needed.

GS: What about “Zombie Girl” made you decide it was worth investing two years in?

AM: We were initially drawn to the story because of how cool it was that a twelve-year-old girl was making a full-length zombie film. But, what emerged over time was not only the persistence that Emily had in the face of obstacles, but the encouragement and support she was getting from her parents. Her dad was out there holding the boom mic and running kids between film sets and her mom — who is a movie buff like Emily — really dedicated herself to helping Emily realize her vision.

We sometimes call Zombie Girl: The Movie “the bloodiest mother/daughter story ever told.” Not only were Emily and her mom squeezing a full scale indie film production into their school and work schedules, but Emily was becoming a teenager (she’s 13 by the time she finishes Pathogen) so it’s a coming-of-age story, too. Seeing their relationship overcome the strains of a grueling film shoot, but ultimately grow stronger in the end was one of the joys of making the documentary.

GS: Do you find it ironic that you came to film Emily because you found her project interesting, but ultimately she gets her movie widespread distribution thanks to you? You formed something of a symbiotic partnership.

AM: Our goal when shooting was to remain “flies on the wall” as much as possible and not let our own experiences as filmmakers pollute what Emily was doing. We took a hands off approach. But now that Zombie Girl is coming out on dvd, it’s cool to be able to package the films together so that people can see them both. Though, Emily’s already been doing a good job of getting Pathogen out there for people to see without any help from us!

GS: What is “Hands on a Hard Body”? I hear you think it’s hilarious.

AM: It’s an amazingly funny documentary about people competing in a contest to win a new truck. If you love documentaries (or just good movies in general) you have to check it out.

GS: For aspiring film editors, why should they use Final Cut?

AM: Final Cut Pro is inexpensive, yet able to handle just about anything you throw at it. I’ve cut projects in about every format with it, from VHS to telecined 35mm that would be finishing back to film. It’s a workhorse.

GS: Did you know who Harry Knowles was before the documentary, and what was it like meeting him?

AM: I definitely knew who Harry Knowles was before the documentary. Ain’t It Cool News is pretty ubiquitous, especially in Austin. We were very glad that he agreed to take part in the documentary. His commitment to spreading cinema awareness to children through events like his free Kids Club screening series was pivotal in Emily’s early development as a filmmaker. Plus, he’s just a nice guy and gave a great interview.

GS: Where do you see Emily ten years from now?

AM: Making movies!

GS: Did you get a sense of pride watching Emily work and seeing her pleased with her progress and success?

AM: Seeing her confidence grow as she worked her way through Pathogen was very cool to see. And she hasn’t slowed down since. She already made her second feature film and just shot her third one this summer. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

GS: What’s up with the “Zombies Rock!” guy in the truck?

AM: He rocks!

I encourage everyone to check out this documentary. It’s a great mother-daughter story, and not bad for a behind-the-scenes on how to make a film. It’s slick, crisp and very professional. For more information on Emily Hagins and her projects, check out her website.

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