Tina Teeter: The Culture Brats Interview

The townspeople of Jasper, Alabama have been making a zombie movie, Thr33 Days Dead. But here's the rub: it's taken them six years to do it. Syfy has told the group that if they finish making the movie, Syfy will air it. Syfy is also documenting the townspeople's attempt to finish filming Thr33 Days Dead in the hilarious weekly series, Town Of The Living Dead. We spoke to the film's funny and honest producer, Tina Teeter, about the movie, being a producer, how much support she receives from the town, and that boat.

How did you first become involved with Thr33 Days Dead?
I was buying my daughter a telephone at Radio Shack and that's how I met John and kind of how I got involved.

Did you have any producer experience prior to the movie?
Absolutely not. I had been an actress for many years. I was a theater actress for a long time. I had piddled around, people had asked me to do things, some directing, which I never did. I frankly enjoyed the acting part rather than the production part. I'm not a producer. I'm just playing one on TV.

It's rumored this film is based on a local urban legend. What is that legend?
There was a legend around at one time that there was a body that was buried and it was opened and it bursted. The guy was really sick and he went into the hospital and he stayed in the hospital for a long time. That had been around for a long time. I had never heard it a whole lot. But since this has come up, I have heard it a couple of times. I wasn't involved when they first wrote the movie. I'm sure John picked that up probably in a bar. That's what I understand. He heard somebody talking about that in a bar and that's how the urban legend got started. It is true, I understand.

Why has it taken so long to film the movie?
One of the reasons it's taken so long to film the movie is because we had so many hardships come up along the way. First of all, we could only film on Thursdays because John's off day was Thursday. Our computer went down on us and we lost almost a year's worth of footage. When I initially started, the cast and crew that we had at that time, it was just a problem. Some needed to go back to work. It was getting to where they were not cohesive as a cast. We shut down for a little while and regrouped and recast a few things. It took us six months because I didn't want to go forward until we found people that clicked with each other. We finally got rolling and then we lost footage. And then we were rolling some more and John had a stroke. John was thirty-two and had a stroke, so of course that set us back. And then one of our co-stars, Gary Carreker's little son Colin Pickle, he was sick for eight or nine months. He stayed in the hospital that long. We lost Colin a few months ago, it hasn't even been a year yet.

Just life in general. Maybe if we had been filming every day, seven days a week, I'm sure we could've finished this film earlier, but circumstances just weren't convenient for us to do that. We just had to do what we had to do and that was just chew away at it a little piece at a time.

Has there ever been a point when you've just thought, "Heck with all this, let's just shut the whole thing down?"
Yes sir. I think I've probably quit now ninety-eight times and still rising. I've quit many times but I love this crew and I know we've struggled together so as upset as I got, we were still in it together and I'm not a failure. Failure was not an option. It's still not an option.

In the second episode, you tell the boat guy that you'll bring the boat back when you're done. What was your plan had you successfully blown up the boat?
Well, that's one of those instances where being a producer, it's either you is or you ain't. I would've had to thought on my feet. Actually, I would've made that right if I'd of had to pay for that boat myself. I would've righted it somehow. The man's name was John. He was a really, really good sport. I did speak to him a little bit and he was good about it. "It'll be okay. You're going to bring the boat back just like you said." I didn't have the faith he did in me. I guess he knew the boat wasn't gonna blow up. Maybe he didn't think we had the technology to do it. I think he was so supportive of us for what we were wanting to do, he knew that if anything did happen, I would make it right somehow. I might've had to sell my car, but it would've been okay.

Speaking of support, how much support do you receive from the town?
We actually receive a lot of support from the town. There's mixed feelings, too. Not everyone's going to like it. We do get that here. And because it's a small town, sometimes we get more of it. Everybody really supports us. Even the ones that don't support us are sitting back right now thinking, "I hope they make it." I don't think there's anyone that absolutely wishes that we'd completely fail. We've been at it so long that even if they don't like what we're doing, even if they don't like zombies, I still think the town is supporting us and pushing us forward.

The season previews show Robert Englund showing up. How did that come to happen?
How about that?

Well, I don't know. We just needed him. I got wind that he was around. He did a big favor for us and you'll just have to tune in to see what it was and how he helped us. He's a wonderful man and it was just one of those situations where it was luck on my part.

Where did the phrase "You just got Teetered" come from?
Just me being silly. I was always saying, "Boom! Boom!" when I get excited. Somehow or another it just came about and the next thing I know, "You've been Teetered!"

Do you remember the first time you ever used it?
I do. We were actually trying to find a location and everybody was in the car and I just turned around to them and said, "Boom! They just got Teetered!" and it just stuck and never went away.

You're probably not allowed to tell me this, but did you guys finish the film?
Now you know I'm not allowed to tell you that.

I thought maybe I'd catch you slipping.
You'll have to tune in and see!

Final question: any plans for a sequel?
We are rolling around something, sure. I wanted to do a prequel. John, the director, wasn't crazy about a prequel. But yeah, we've got some marbles rolling around in the pot. The only problem is if we don't do better than we did this time, I ain't gonna live to see it. I'll be 70 years old!

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Town Of The Living Dead, Syfy's docuseries on the filming of Thr33 Days Dead, airs on Syfy on Tuesdays at 10:00 PM.

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