The post-apocalyptic zombie road trip comedy Zombieland (2009) centers on four survivors of a viral pandemic: Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). After most of the world’s population has turned into zombies, surviving humans are locked in an ongoing battle against the hungry undead. The seemingly-mismatched central characters journey towards an alleged safe haven in Los Angeles, following a strict set of survival rules and zombie-killing strategies as they travel.
Script to Screen was delighted to welcome screenwriters/executive producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick for a virtual Q&A. The conversation was moderated by Pollock Theater Director Matt Ryan.
Screenwriters/Executive Producers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Writer-Producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick met in high school in Phoenix, Arizona and have been creative partners since 2001. The pair wrote and executive-produced Twentieth Century Fox’s Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds. The 2016 superhero action-comedy remains the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and was nominated for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) at the Golden Globe Awards and Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writer’s Guild. Reese and Wernick subsequently co-wrote and executive-produced Deadpool 2, which became the third highest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
Reese’s and Wernick’s first feature collaboration was Zombieland, which they wrote and executive-produced for Columbia Pictures in 2009. Reese and Wernick also wrote the screenplay for its sequel Zombieland: Double Tap (2019). Other screenplay collaborations include G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), starring Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, and Bruce Willis, for Paramount Pictures, and Life (2017), starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, for Sony Pictures.
Reese’s and Wernick’s initial partnership occurred on Spike TV where they created, wrote, and executive-produced The Joe Schmo Show. The series drew Spike’s highest-ever ratings and was named to numerous Best Of lists, including TIME Magazine’s Top 10 TV Shows of the year and Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best TV Shows Ever on DVD. Reese and Wernick followed up with Joe Schmo 2 and Invasion Iowa, a high-concept comedy hybrid starring William Shatner.
Reese has worked on scripts for Pixar Animation Studios (Monsters, Inc.), Walt Disney Feature Animation (Dinosaur), and Warner Brothers (Clifford’s Really Big Movie), among others. Wernick has produced several network reality shows. He won three Emmy awards for his work in news.
Moderator Matt Ryan
Matthew Ryan has been the Pollock Theater Director since the theater opened in October 2010. He created and hosts the Script to Screen series, which has welcomed prestigious guests such as writer/director/producer Jordan Peele (Get Out), writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), screenwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), and writer/director/producer David Mandel, actor Tony Hale, and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (VEEP).
Ryan oversees the Pollock Theater Internship, which offers industry-level experience in live multi-camera television production and event planning. TV shows produced by students through this program have generated 15.1 million online views on the UCTV broadcast cable station.
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center, the Department of Film & Media Studies, and the Scott Frank Fund for Screenwriting.
Script to Screen
The Script to Screen series examines the screenplay and its transition to the screen from the perspective of writers, directors, producers, editors, and actors. The Pollock Theater connects artists to our audience of aspiring production students, and Guild & Academy Members. Our Q&As transform into a television show that airs on UCTV. The series is hosted by the Pollock Theater Director, Matt Ryan, and co-produced by the Pollock Theater student staff.