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DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER’s Producer and Writer on Video Game Adaptations

We caught up with Dead Rising: Watchtower‘s writer Tim Carter and producer Tomas Harlan at Wondercon in Anaheim Ca., this past weekend. The film is an awesome video game adaptation which follows Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) and Crystal O’Rourke (Meghan Ory), as they fight to stay alive during a zombie virus outbreak. In this roundtable interview, Carter and Harlan discussed bringing the video game to life and which other video game adaptations they want to work on.

Left to right: Zach Lipovsky, Tim Carter, Dennis Haysbert, Tom Harlan, Jesse Metcalfe. FilmMagic/Getty Images


Q: So what was the attraction for this project for the both of you?

Tomas Harlan: I love the game. I’m a big Frank West fan and I love ‘Dead Rising 2’ and ‘Off the Record.’ I like zombies, I like the universe of ‘Dead Rising.’ It’s very unique, where unlike other zombie universes where the whole world is post-apocalptic, this one is focused on this one area which is quarantined and you know that in three days, the whole place is going to get fire-bombed if you don’t figure it out. I love that. I love the ticking clock, it’s almost like ’24.’ It’s like ’24’ meets ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ I thought it was a chance for us to tell a cool story and not try to be ‘The Walking Dead.’ We can have some light-heartedness.

Tim Carter: For me, I think it was that I come from a game development background, so I’ve worked on open world games where I’m crafting the story. I’m always sort of thinking, how would I make this work in live-action? Even when I first played ‘Dead Rising,’ it was all about where was the through line to the movie to be found in here? One of the unique things about it is the tone, the setup. It’s a media event, it’s also a political event and it has ramifications for how the rest of the world operates. All of those things were really attractive.

Q: If you had the chance, what franchise would you turn into a movie?

Tomas Harlan: A bunch! (Laughs). Let’s talk about one that we will never have, how about that? The ‘Uncharted’ series is great. I mean, we aren’t going to get any Naughty Dog titles, are we? We look for titles that are interesting to us but that we can think we can adapt well into live-action. My number one is ‘Alan Wake.’ I would do anything, anything, anything to do that. I ask them for that title three times a year, religiously. (laughs).

Tim Carter: It’s almost to the point where I have to talk to Remedy because they are just like ‘you can’t just listen to Tomas’ (laughs).

Tomas Harlan: I want that title so badly. It’s ‘The Shinning’ meets ‘Twin Peaks.’

Tim Carter: For me, it’s ‘X-Com.’ I have to stop talking to 2K ’cause I’m just annoying the living hell out of them but X-Com is like ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ You have high level politics and you have the action soldiers on the ground that are going to die like flies and are terrified the whole time. I’ve wanted it since the mid 90’s.

Q: How do you react when you see that someone like Virginia Madsen wants to audition for your movie?

Tomas Harlan: It’s funny ’cause when Tim was creating the character, we kind of used her for our prototype. We are both familiar with her work and like we just took a punt and seen if we are going to get her. We reached out to agents and made this passionate plea. Now we are going onto our next projects and I have a very simple premiss which I think that video games are theoretically kind of the next comic books, in terms of adaptation and that the generation that grew up on video games, is now moving into power in Hollywood. A lot of video games need to be told and I think they can be told better than they have in the past. I mean, we can all agree at this table. Even we still face challenges, don’t get me wrong but having a group in Hollywood now, who grew up with video games and appreciates video games, I think this new model is evolving. I think we can tell some great stories.

Tim Carter: It’s interesting ’cause we always say the same thing, that video games are the next comic books and that there’s a transition in Hollywood. And for the first time as we are talking, we are a part of that. We grew up on video games and working on them, building them.

How awesome would an Alan Wake film be? Let’s get some better video game adaptations out there than we have seen in the past. The fans want it and deserve it, don’t you think?

Dead Rising: Watchtower is now available on Crackle for free. It’s a really unique zombie film, in my opinion. The film star Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Rob Riggle, Dennis Haysbert and Virginia Madsen.