Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2008
Release Date: USA, 2005
Director/Editor/Composer/Cinematographer: Ryan Graham
Writers: Ryan Graham, Tracey Graham, Curtis Crispin
Cast: Deborah Allison, John Bennett, Mike Bennett, Bradley Burgess-Donaleski, Kelly Clendenon, Ian Corey, Curtis Crispin, Aaron Cullers, Brock Fanning, R. Scott Graham, Scott Graham, Davon Hall, Lindsay Haynes, Jason Henley, Steve Kolbe, Paul Lindeman, Nikc Miller, Dallas Shelby, Amy Smith, Lewis Smith, Ryan Stachurski, Gary Sugai, Kevin Tan, Steve Thomas, Abir Trivedi, Michelle Trout, Kara Webb, Lori S. Yanke
Livelihood is a horror comedy that is comprised of three separate stories that are all bound together by featuring zombies and loved ones coming back from the grave. The first story is about a hair metal band and their lead singer named Billy Jump who accidentaly dies when his Jack Daniels is spilt on his guitar thus electrocuting him. The second story is about a corporate lackey who also has a girlfriend who cheats on him. The final story is about a vindictive mother in law who detests her daughter in law.
The structure of the film is told via a narrative that jumps between the three stories. The transition between each story is done with Zombie related commercials that include offers like government money for the dead, zombie bowl syndrome and zombie retirement homes. These shorter commercial bits are all hilarious takes on advertising for the dead. The film pacing and narrative structure keep things moving along at a brisk pace.
Filmmaker Ryan Graham wore many hats on the set of Livelihood including director, composer, editor, cinematographer and producer. Visually the look of the film far exceeds its meager budget. The cinematography looks polished and at times very stylish. On the production end Livelihood it is impressive just home much the cast and crew accomplished despite their lack of resources.
The one thing that almost always sticks out in every low budget feature is the acting. Surprisingly the acting in Livelihood is really good and one of the reasons the film works on so many levels. All the performers do a solid job in their various roles. Comedy in not one of the easiest things to pull off and the cast does a superb job delivering the goods.
The score for the film was composed by the film’s director Ryan Graham. The score especially the songs performed by Billy Jump’s band are all dead on parodies on hair metal. The band that would emerge out of the result of recording these songs is a band named The Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad. Since working on music for Livelihood they have recorded a album titled Die Humpin! The album is a collection of tongue and cheek songs mostly due in 1980’s metal style.
Livelihood does feature some mild violence. The zombies in the films are not your brain eating or vicious type. This is satire about the genre and today’s society in general. The zombies are more interested in picking up where they left off then eating human flesh. Ultimately Livelihood is refreshing and innovative take on the zombie genre.
- Dolby Digital Stereo English
- Audio commentary with the producers
- Audio commentary with the cast
- 17 Deleted Scenes (29 minutes)
- Outtakes and Bloopers (8 minutes)
- "MacGyver DIY Filmmaking" Featurette (9 1/2 minutes)
- "The Real Billy Jump Band" Featurette (8 minutes)
Livelihood is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The image looks great with strong colors and details look sharp throughout. There are no problems with edge enhancement, compression or artifacts. This release is flagged for progressive playback. One audio option has been included on this release a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. The audio is clear, clean, robust and evenly balanced. Overall the audio is dynamic and strong throughout.
This release comes with a wealth of extras which are spread over two DVD’s. The first disc contains two audio commentaries one with the production end of the film and the other with the cast. Both audio commentaries offer plenty insight into independent filmmaking. Extras on the second disc include outtakes from the film and count them seventeen deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are just as funny and entertaining as the footage that was not cut. Rounding out the extras are two featurette’s one about the music in the film and the band behind it. The other featurette is a behind the scenes segment which shows how the crew accomplished so much with their limited budget. This two DVD special edition for Livelihood is a impressive release that showcases the film to its fullest.
Note: 37.5 Productions is running a promotion where one winner will receive the guitar that Billy Jump plays in the film. All entries must be received by Sunday June 29th, 2008. You can enter to win Billy Jump’s guitar here.