Kim and Mike drive to their friend’s remote mountain cabin with their baby Lily and dog Teddy. The two couples have a night full of food and drink, unaware of the tragedy about to befall them…

The cabin. Now boarded up. Claustrophobic. No power. No food. Scavenged books and other diversions. A box of walkie talkies, CB Radios, and all the detritus of an electronics-dependent civilization now gone forever. Kim and Mike are there, but no sign of the other couple, their dog, or Lily. They have survived a mysterious pandemic through routine and isolation. Their world is this cabin. Mike ventures out to scavenge for food and supplies, but any time they open the door or make a noise they invite ravenous assailants. In this new reality, these assailants might be desperate survivors, or, far worse, the infected. They’ve scavenged all the edible food from the nearby cabins, and animals are not a reliable source of food as they may well be infected themselves, a lesson Mike and Kim learned the hard way. Mike has no choice but to venture further in search of more supplies…

Kim remains in the cabin alone, armed only with kitchen knives and garden tools. She is tormented by images of the dead and her life that was and will never be. That night, something attacks… She survives the horrifying ordeal but her increasing paranoia gets the best of her. When Mike returns he can’t remember their pre-established secret knock. To the frazzled Kim, he seems odd, unfocused… Was he the attacker from last night? He tries to convince, cajole, and manipulate her into letting him in but she won’t open the door. Will he persuade her to let him in? Is he infected? Will his anger escalate as he desperately tries to enter the cabin? Should she trust him? Leave him to die? Or take care of him herself? What is real and what is in the mind?

“This is a relationship drama in the guise of an unconventional zombie movie,” says director Ben Wagner. “Instead of a group of survivors fighting off a horde of monsters, this is an isolated tale of one woman fighting off one persistent attacker: her boyfriend.” But are those attacks real, or merely perceived? According to Wagner, “The film is a metaphor for a toxic relationship: Kim can’t leave Mike no matter how stifling their relationship has become.” The couple hide behind memories of better times and never confront the reality that they must separate to be happy. Mike doesn’t treat Kim with full respect, but loves her and believes he has her best interests at heart. She doesn’t think he can be a provider and can’t see a future with him. She would have left him had they not been forced together to survive. Ultimately she must choose between an unfulfilling life with him or an uncertain future alone in a dangerous world.

The majority of Dead Within was shot over a 72 hour period. The actors developed the backstory and the first scenes that establish this new world. After shooting these initial scenes the actors were isolated in the cabin where they improvised the second act. They did not know how the story would develop beyond the establishing scenes. Beats were pre-planned and partially scripted, and the actors were provided with scripts and scenarios only as the story unfolded.

After the marathon three day, round-the-clock shoot, production took a two-day hiatus. The crew then returned for four additional days of traditional production during which they shot missing scenes, reaction shots, VFX, and other beats necessary to complete the story. This is not a found footage film. Two cameras manned by experienced camera operators ran at all times, with remote focus pullers guaranteeing a high quality image and composition throughout. With total control of the location, the skilled crew was able to properly light scenes, anticipate camera angles, and capture usable audio. The crew worked in shifts, recording almost 24 hours a day during the initial three-day period. On-set assistant editors immediately ingested footage and strung out scenes on Final Cut Pro to identify missing shots while time remained to pick them up on the spot.

Composers Joshua Bradford and Clayton Worbeck joined the project early on. Joshua created cues that were used to set the tone for the actors in the cabin during production. Wagner supplied the composers with production audio immediately after production, allowing them to weave the “soundscape” score in and out of diegetic space. The result is an immersive soundtrack that captures the tension and psychosis experienced by the characters.

  • Amy Cale Peterson | Kim

    Amy’s film credits include Fran’s Daughter (Official Selection, SXSW) and Southbounders (Narrative Competition, Los Angeles Film Festival), which was also directed by Ben Wagner. She has also appeared on numerous television shows, including on Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Lie To Me, The Defenders, The Event and various Hallmark movies of the week. Recently, Amy wrote and starred in the short film, You’ve Got This, and is currently collaborating with Matthew Lillard on his next feature script.After graduating with a degree in Theater from Northwestern University, she went on to study with The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival and Steppenwolf Theatre. She has starred in several theater productions in both New York and Los Angeles. Her favorites include Marat/Sade (LA Weekly Award for Best Production), Raising The Bar with IAMA Theatre Company, and The Pitchfork Disney. The process of creating Dead Within with director Ben Wagner was unlike anything Amy had experienced. The story unfolded during the course of the shoot, allowing the actors to really live and breathe in the given circumstances, without knowing what was going to happen next. This kind of working together demanded an immense amount of trust and collaboration that was incredibly rewarding.

  • Dean Chekvala | Mike

    Dean found working on Dead Within both challenging and rewarding. The intimate setting and creative approach gave the actors the freedom to develop and explore their characters together in real-time which made the experience that much more rewarding. Dean’s other feature work includes People Like Us, Arthur Newman and Mulligan. Dean also worked on the hit web-series comedy, Reception, where he plays an aspiring writer stuck in a dead end job as the receptionist at a casting facility. After receiving his BFA from Wayne State University, Dean went on to study with The School at Steppenwolf in Chicago.  After working in Chicago for a number of years and establishing himself as a talented young actor, his work brought him to Los Angeles. On television, Dean’s credits include Legends, Intelligence, The Masters Of Sex, True Blood, Longmire, Harper’s Island, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS: LA, Breakout Kings, The Defenders, Justified, Lie to Me, E.R., NCIS, and Numb3rs. Dean has performed with theatres across the country and just finished a run of Do Like The Kids Do in NYC.  Other notable performances include The Accidental Blonde, Hamlet, House Of Yes, A Flea In Her Ear, Noises Off, ll Bidone, Romeo And Juliet and Twelfth Night.  He continues to study, work in, and produce theatre when not filming. 

  • J Claude Deering
  • Ben Wagner | Writer-Director-Producer

    Ben Wagner is a storyteller working in film, television, comics, and interactive experiences.

    Famed filmmaker Werner Herzog declared Wagner’s film 6:00 “the roguest of rogue films. Beautiful.” In 6:00, a cop confronts a gang who “done her wrong” in a non-stop, real-time fight through busted alleys, abandoned houses, and in a speeding car – all in one shot. This visually arresting and highly technical work epitomizes Wagner’s outlook on storytelling – good stories should challenge, captivate, and entertain. Wagner’s original graphic novel BAJA was released by IDW Publishing to commercial and critical acclaim and was recently re-released in the Mean Streets Anthology. The twisting crime noir plays with conventions as it follows two couples whose fates are closely tied together. BAJA was recently re-released in the Mean Streets Anthology. His screenplay The Boundary was optioned by ABC Studios for adaptation to series.

    Wagner wrote and directed the feature film Southbounders, which premiered in the Los Angeles Film Festival narrative competition and screened at festivals worldwide. Wagner is a Film Independent Producers and Writers Fellow. He studied film at Northwestern University and received an MBA from UCLA Anderson business school.

  • Matthew Bradford | Writer-Producer

    Matthew Bradford is a Los Angeles-based screenwriter who made his way westward from Connecticut via Chicago (or, more specifically, Evanston), where he studied film with a certificate in Creative Writing for the Media at Northwestern University. He is the co-creator of the comic book Night and Fog, which has been optioned for the screen by Superman Returns producer Gil Adler, and was in part inspired by his love for the Hammer horror movies of the Sixties and Seventies. Another passion that has informed his career path is a love of James Bond and spy movies in general–particularly of the Sixties variety. Bradford is the author of the popular pop culture blog Double O Section, dedicated to the spy genre in every imaginable medium, and has lent his expertise to special features on DVDs and Blu-rays of classic spy movies. He has also produced Making Of documentaries for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy DVDs and Blu-rays. Bradford and Wagner are currently collaborating on their third screenplay together.

  • Charlotte Pai | Producer
  • Jennifer Westin | Producer

    Jennifer has produced a number of independent feature films including dark comedy The Big Ask starring Jason Ritter, Melanie Lynskey, David Krumholtz and Gillian Jacobs. Tribeca Films issued a day and date release of the film in May of 2014. Mutual Friends, starring Cheyenne Jackson and Caitlin FitzGerald, is an ensemble comedy featuring a different writer for each storyline. FilmBuff released the film in July of 2014. Both films had their world premieres at the Seattle International Film Festival. Jennifer’s first feature, The Lake Effect, starring Kay Panabaker (Fame) and Ross Partridge (Baghead), premiered at the Raindance Film Festival and won awards at festivals worldwide before heading into distribution. Jennifer has produced numerous short films including The Dawn Chorus which played film festivals including Sundance and London. She also produced Twenty Dollar Drinks, starring Sandra Bernhard and Cady Huffman, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her episode of the PBS series Futurestates was the season three finale. Other credits include several web series and a transmedia project for Emmy-winning Fourth Wall Studios.

  • George Folsey Jr. | Editor-Producer
  • Gabriel Roth | Producer

    Gabriel Roth is a producer and director, known for Grindhouse (2007), Hostel: Part II (2007), and Cabin Fever: Beneath the Skin (2004).

  • Aengus James | Executive Producer

    As co-founder and head of creative of TIJAT (This Is Just A Test Productions), Aengus runs development and oversees creative of all projects across all platforms. He is an award winning filmmaker, commercial director, and executive producer. He is currently producing a slate of television series and specials for networks including History, Discovery, and Sundance. Aengus has created and directed campaigns for major brands such as Pepsi, Dove, Claritin, Jaguar, among others. His most recent commercial transmedia campaign generated 90 million media impressions in a single week. Aengus’ feature documentary American Harmony received critical acclaim (Variety) and film festival prizes (San Diego Film Festival, Sedona Film Festival, IDA nominee).  He co-created and executive produced the 13 episode series Madhouse for History.  He was the cinematographer for Academy Award winner Barry Levinson’s film essay PoliWood. He then teamed up with Levinson again to produce a documentary on the obesity epidemic.  A core portion of Aengus’ work can be seen in campaigns for non-profits such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Vets, The Creative Coalition, and Children’s Action Network.

  • Colin King Miller | Executive Producer

    As co-founder and head of production, Colin runs TIJAT and manages all of TIJAT’s projects in production across all platforms including television series, digital and commercial campaigns, and films.  Colin brings a comprehensive understanding of film production from the major motion picture industry to the independent production world. For seven and a half years, he worked in production for the Walt Disney Company where he served as the Production Finance Lead on a number of Disney’s tent-pole animated films (Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Prep & Landing).  In addition, Colin produced the critically acclaimed film and audience favorite, American Harmony which won various film festival awards.  Prior to working in the entertainment industry, Colin served time on Wall Street working as an investment banker for Citigroup Corporate and Investment Bank (formerly Salomon Smith Barney).

  • Peter James Cooper | Executive Producer

    Peter James Cooper is a screenwriter, film producer and businessman. He began his career working in commercial film production and then made the jump to the creative side of entertainment as a screenwriter. After writing deals at Warner Bros., Fox Television and Paramount Pictures, Cooper produced the independent romantic comedy Love and Mary, which premiered at the South By Southwest festival in Austin. Currently, his script The Sleeping Dogs of Amagansett is scheduled for production in late summer of 2014.

  • Gregory R. Schenz | Executive Producer

    Greg Schenz most recently served as the Head of Business & Legal Affairs at Beacon Pictures where he worked on such motion pictures as “The Guardian” and “Ladder 49”. At Beacon, Mr. Schenz also oversaw a first look deal with Walt Disney and a revolving production credit facility at JP Morgan. Prior to Beacon, Mr. Schenz was a Senior Vice President in Business & Legal Affairs in the Los Angeles office of InterMedia, an entertainment investment and production company, which produced “Terminator 3” and “Sliding Doors” among other commercial and critical hits, and an associate at Loeb & Loeb LLP, where his practice focused on development, production, finance and distribution in the motion picture and television production industry. Mr. Schenz started his entertainment industry career as legal counsel for the motion picture completion bond company, International Film Guarantors. Mr. Schenz received his B.A. in Soviet Studies from George Washington University while working on Capital Hill for Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson. Mr. Schenz received his J.D. from Loyola of Los Angeles Law School, and has been a member of the California Bar since 1993.

  • Timothy Gillis | Director of Photography

    Tim is an experienced commercial, film, and television photographer and gaffer. His first feature as a cinematographer, Booster, was selected to the 2012 SXSW Film Festival.

  • Rick Grayson | Editor

    Rick Grayson studied film at Emerson College in Boston where he first discovered his love for the art of film editing, and continues to be a student of the craft even as he practices his career today. He has been working on feature films since 2002 when he got his start as a post-production assistant on the film Godsend. He then worked his way up the ranks on the next few films, from an Apprentice Editor on The Passion of the Christ to Assistant Editor on Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Rick has been a 1st Assistant Editor on many Hollywood Studio films including One Missed Call and Arbitrage. Rick was an Additional Film Editor on The Road.

  • Joshua Bradford | Composer

    Joshua is known primarily as a rock musician whose band affiliations include Stayte, Simple Shelter, Revolting Cocks (RevCo), Ministry (co-conspirator), and The Great Americon (with members of Ministry, Lords Of Acid and American Headcharge). What Remains is his first feature film score, though he’s long been interested in film soundtracks. Since 1999 Simple Shelter has been Josh’s one-man side project of, though he’s been joined over the years by many talented friends including Clayton Worbeck of Stayte/RevCo, Peter Distefano of Porno For Pyros, Paul Barker of Ministry and Tom Coyne of The Last Dance. Simple Shelter has defined itself as a project not easily defined. Each album includes an eclectic mix of instrumentation from Acoustic to Electronic/New Wave to piano instrumentals. This makes Simple Shelter a better project with each listen. In 2004 Simple Shelter hit the road and toured the world for years as an audio/visual performance, combining a passionate soundtrack with projected imagery.

  • Clayton Worbeck | Composer

    Clayton is a composer, music producer and audio engineer. He has mixed and mastered tracks for multi-platinum artists, collaborated on various albums with Grammy-nominated musicians and toured as a musician throughout North America. His works have appeared in films, video games and soundtracks including EA Sports NHL 10, the Saw V Soundtrack and most recently, the feature film Dead Within. He has engineered/produced/remixed in numerous recording studios across North America and is a Voting Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He runs his own audio production company (The Sonic Sietch) which is currently focused on remixing and composing for film.