History 5

January 28, 1978
Invited by producer Richard Rubinstein, New York School of Visual Arts teacher Roy Frumkes and his team of six crew members join Dawn’s Monroeville production to shoot footage for a documentary (to be released on home video as Document of the Dead 11 years later) over three nights. Both Frumkes and his associate producer Sukey Raphael feature prominently as “lead zombies” during the biker pie fight scenes in the finished film.

Happy Birthday George Romero

February 4, 1978
On-location shooting at the Monroeville Mall wraps up on George Romero’s 38th birthday. Following a little party where Romero is being presented with a cake and a special director’s chair, the cast and crew assemble at the mall’s fountain in their Dawn of the Dead t-shirts for a commemorative group photo. This is also the last day of explosive effects man Gary Zeller on the film’s production team.

February 11 – 14, 1978
Dawn of the Dead’s production goes into its final phase with two days of shooting the opening TV studio scenes at Pittsburgh’s Channel 53 WPGH station, and two more at the Fort Pitt Boulevard “hideout” location.

February 20, 1978
Principal photography wraps up after filming some additional pick-up shots of the WGON helicopter, and Romero hits his editing table to compose a first rough cut that will eventually clock in at a reported 173 minutes.

February 26, 1978
A mere six days after shooting has been completed, the first raw footage clips from Dawn of the Dead are shown by Channel 53 WGPH in Pittsburgh during a live interview with George Romero hosted by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entertainment editor George Anderson that follows the debut local television showing of Night of the Living Dead. This vintage preview, which runs for about five minutes and is commented by the director off-camera, features several takes that will not make it into the finished movie, including a hilarious scene of Roger clumsily attempting to help Stephen out of an air duct opening by having him standing on his hands (and both men ultimately falling down), as well as a couple of interesting alternate-angle and “clipboard” shots.

March 23, 1978
An extensive four-page Rolling Stone magazine article by Chet Flippo, covering his visit to the Monroeville Mall set the previous January, introduces Dawn of the Dead to a wider “pop culture” audience. A translation of Flippo’s piece will also be included in the German pressbook for the film the following year.