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Bed-Stuy Middle-Schoolers Fight For Their Lives in Zombie Outbreak Film

Detention Goes Wrong
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Tribeca Film Institute

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A group of students is fighting for their lives in a quarantined Bed-Stuy middle school.

That's the premise of "Detention Goes Wrong," a student film that premiered last week at the School of Visual Arts Theater as part of a Tribeca Film Institute teaching program.

The film focuses on a group of students — which include archetypes like the loner, the nerd and the popular girl — who all get dragged to detention at the Eubie Blake School at 787 Lafayette Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. After dropping an infected blue (gummy) worm into their teacher's food, she gets sick and turns into a zombie, resulting in a quarantine at the school.

"It was fun," said Shaquala Warren, 11, who plays a zombie in the film. "Each step has this emotion like, 'Hey, I might not [be able to] do this,' but once you try your best it comes out beautiful."

About 150 middle-schoolers from across the city participated in creating 13 films for the Tribeca Teaches program, where students write, shoot, edit and act in their own short films over a six month period.

The diverse group of films included a documentary on Jorge "the Angel of Queens" Munoz, a Harlem Shake-inspired meme and a fake infomercial for ChapStick.

The 12 students at Eubie Blake decided on "Detention Goes Wrong" after batting around a few ideas for horror movies. It's the brainchild of Annette Hampton, a 13-year-old who modeled the short on her favorite zombie movie, "Resident Evil."

"I just wanted to do a zombie horror film, where the kids have to fight to get out of the school," Annette said. "We had made up a script of what we wanted to say, and each person would say we want to do this or that."

After a brief learning curve, the kids took over the process, said Donal Foreman, the Tribeca teaching artist.

"I tried to let them do as much of the work as possible," Foreman said. "The script was written by them, the dialogue was all theirs, all the casting choices, and one thing I was impressed with was the editing. They did all the editing themselves."

The students even enlisted the help of an after-school instructor, Beverly Norman, to star as the infected teacher.

"You would have thought I got cast for a really big Hollywood part," Norman said. "I just took it really seriously, because I thought it was a really great idea."

Some of the kids didn't interact with each other before the filming, partly because of age differences, said Shaquala, the young zombie.

But after working together, the group became fast friends. 

"It brought us closer together," Shaquala said. "Now it's like we see each other every day, like, 'Hey! Hugs!'"

To see all of the student films, go to the Tribeca Teaches website.