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Survival Skills

13 Sep, 2013 By: Justin Levine

'World War Z'

Paramount hosts apocalypse training camp as it readies ‘World War Z’ for disc

LOS ANGELES — What better way to mark the release of World War Z than with zombie survival lessons?

Paramount Home Media Distribution marked the arrival of the Brad Pitt film on Blu-ray Disc by hosting an “apocalypse survival” theme camp in the back recesses of Griffith Park Sept. 12, bringing together survivalist experts, technical consultants who worked on the movie and actress Daniella Kertesz, who stars in the film as an Israeli soldier helping Pitt track down the cause of the zombie pandemic.

World War Z arrives on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 17.

Paramount had Sam Sheridan, author of Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse, and Mark Mikita, a knife-fighting instructor and grandmaster martial artist, on hand to give reporters a few tips on how to survive the type of apocalypse depicted in World War Z.

Sheridan said the zombie genre has actually become a valuable teaching tool to represent a broad range of real-life disasters people may face.

“Denial is always a big part of how people react to disasters," he said, explaining how people cope with their denial instructs how well they will perform under stress. “People’s initial reactions are ‘This can't be happening.’ … No water. No power. No sewage for a month. … That’s why I love the zombie apocalypse.”

Actress Kertesz — a 24-year-old Jerusalem native — had only done a smattering of TV roles in Israel with no feature film experience when she asked her agent to find her additional work.

“A television show, a commercial, anything,” she recalled.

Kertesz was more than a little shocked when her agent got back to her with an offer to star in a major American production staring Pitt. She won the role after an initial audition where she had pantomime shooting zombies.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Kertesz said. “I thought it was a joke.”

When it came time for the production, Kertesz received military training by former Marine Sgt. Freddie Joe Farnsworth, who served as a technical advisor on the film. Farnsworth said he was impressed with Kertesz’s dedication to the role in learning military tactics and weapons handling.

“She was ready to go,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone who picked it up as well as her.”

Kertesz herself ended up becoming an unofficial technical consultant for World War Z when the crew decided to use the island of Malta as a stand-in to depict her hometown of Jerusalem. She said she was “impressed” with how close the production designers made the location feel like Jerusalem, but had to correct a few of her fellow actors on set who were reading the Hebrew-language newspapers upside-down.

“I had to explain to them, you read right to left, right to left,” she cracked.

In addition to various extras detailing the production of the film and an exploration of the zombie genre, the home video release of World War Z features an unrated version of the film, boasting an extra seven minutes of footage not seen in the original PG-13 theatrical release.

Although Kertesz said hadn’t yet seen the unrated cut of the film, she welcomes the new unrated version, insisting that she is not squeamish.

“I love the intensity of it all,” she said, smiling.

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