Like the monsters it portrays, the zombie movie genre has proven to be difficult to kill, which is great news for local actor Jayson Duckett.
Duckett, 35, of Tarboro has been cast as one of the main characters in an upcoming zombie trilogy, of which the first film, “Test Group,” is in production in Atlanta.
“I put in for it, and Keith Bailey, the director, contacted me on Facebook,” Duckett said. “He added me to the ‘Test Group’ group, where everyone was talking and what not. I did a video audition first and sent that in. He said he really liked me because I follow directions.”
“Why we cast Jayson for the part is he was so passionate about the role that we could not imagine anyone else in the role,” said Bailey, who also wrote the script and co-produced the film.
Duckett will be playing the role of Carl Avondale, a mechanic whose life took a turn for the worse after his wife and children left him.
“He is miserable,” Duckett said. “He is kind of bipolar. He is volunteering, hence the name ‘Test Group,’ for this procedure. We do not know what it is, but he gets paid for it. He’s basically putting himself as a guinea pig because he makes very little money.”
“Test Group” will be different from most zombie movies because it will show viewers the infestation from the beginning, instead of picking up after the attack already has begun, Bailey said.
“These zombies are different than the ones that have been on film before,” he said. “We are bringing the scare back to zombies.”
Duckett should be familiar to Twin Counties audiences, previously having been in several of the Tar River Players’s productions of “A Christmas Carol,” “The Mousetrap” at the Imperial Centre and in the touring show “You Wouldn’t Expect” through the Nash County Arts Council.
Although he got his start on the stage, Duckett said he really enjoys working in film, something he knew he wanted to pursue after his performance as the ghost of Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol.”
“At that point, when I came out as Marley, and those kids were getting scared and it was always applause after I do it,” he said. “Always. I said, ‘This is not enough.’ I need more. I want to do films.”
Duckett will have the opportunity to continue acting in films, as his character will be in the next two movies in the series.
The plan is to film all three at once, Duckett said, hopefully finishing before the end of the year.
“It is great because I was only supposed to be in the first two, and then (Bailey) added me into the third,” Duckett said. “A lot of times in the filming process you get rewrites and add-ons.”
Being in a movie like “Test Group” just makes it sweeter, Duckett said.
“There is a whole lot of up and down in it, and there is a whole lot of different emotions that come with it,” he said. “There is going to be some shocks. There is a whole lot of shock in these films. It is an independent film, but it really is going to raise the bar as far as the zombie genre goes.”
The film is scheduled for a September 2015 release on more than 900 screens across the country.
The movie is expected to premiere in the Twin Counties, but details have not yet been set.