Athena Stevens – a local actor, screenwriter and filmmaker – hails from the States and has lived in Surrey Quays SE16 for over six years. She has co-written (with Kate Ryan) an online web series that is a satirical take on politics and zombies called Vote Z leading up to the UK General Election. Filmed around SE16, the cover blurb says
When Grandpa Zeke returns to his family as the undead it is difficult in imagine a bigger surprise… unless of course its the sweet family patriarch is now being vetted to run for MP.
We took the opportunity of catching up with Athena at Canada Water Cafe to ask a few questions about the series.
So how did the idea for Vote Z first arise? What got you thinking about these themes?
The inspiration for the series came from a crazy dream Kate had. She dreamt that a middle-class family were visited by a zombie of their dead grandfather who was being sized up to stand for election as MP. We realised that zombies are found in all the political parties and decided to use Grandpa Zeke’s zombie nature to point out how silly our politics have become.
We also wanted Mia [his grand-daughter] to become aware of how politics works through both having her grandfather and not having him. He sort of stands for all the people who are outside the norm, who are present but not really a part of things. The family is stuck with Grandpa; he can’t die and they can’t put him in a home!
Grandpa Zeke was a florist in his former life and keeps his humanity enough to continue to bring his granddaughter flowers. But we really need our politicians to wake up, to come alive! Too many are apparently dead.
How did you go about bringing together the people, skills and money to make the series?
Well, most of the filming happens in my home! We don’t use much beyond the simplest equipment and I find the actors through networks of friends and acquaintances. So far we’ve kept the costs to the minimum but perhaps for the next series we will use crowd-funding to raise some more money.
In the early days, I was really helped to get my first production off the ground by my landlords – Nigel and Anthony – who also own this cafe. Lots of people have really helped out along the way.
Living near Greenland Dock, you must have things you like about SE16 and things you don’t like. Tell us…
I’ve lived near Greenland Dock for over six years now and I’ve fallen in love with the place. The folk who live on the Dock are just amazing! They are intelligent and creative in surprising ways. They’ve become my family, my support network. But I guess if there’s something missing in the area, I’d say it needs more places for informal meetings, just to hang out – places that let you be who you are and let neighbours become friends.
Vote Z is an online web series published on Tuesdays and Fridays starting this Friday (13 February). Each episode in this first series is 5-10 mins long and will run through to the day after the UK General Election on 8 May. Find the series at vote-z.co.uk