Editor: Matt Bean
Director of Photography: Lisa Berman
Design Director: Tim Leong
Picture Editor: Michele Romero
Photographer: Dylan Coutler
Heidi: Why the split cover run for this issue?
Michele: Magazines do split-run covers whenever the subject can yield a series of photos to communicate a single topic. So, ESPN’s Body Issue, for example, or GQ’s Coolest Athlete’s of All Time. EW has done split-run covers for a variety of shows and this is the magazine’s 3rd time doing a split-run series for “The Walking Dead.” Single images always make better cover photographs than group shots and fans like the idea of “collecting them all”.
What photo direction where you looking for that made you choose Dylan Coulter?
I had liked Dylan’s multiple image photography on athletes and he did some covers on Footballers for The New York Times Magazine for The World Cup. I admired the videos he did for that cover story. It reminded me to try and use him.
This was my third time working on “Walking Dead” covers and over time I’ve become somewhat of an expert on what fans like about this show. I realized that zombie kills were a type of physical/athletic sport. The actors are archers and baseball batters and shovel bashers and epic swordsmen/women and they are a team whose goal is to stay alive. The survivors are athletes in the game of knock the head off the zombie.Here’s a few of the many multiple images works I used when I was putting Dylan forward to my bosses. Edward Muybridge was someone whose work I had in my initial pitch along with some Jazz Musicians that shot this way in the 50s…
When you’re photo directing the talent, are you directing the character, the person or both?
Depends on the story. If we’re shooting Meryl Streep, we’re photographing the actor. If we are doing a piece on a character, we let the actor do their thing and create that other being. In some cases, an artist, is a character, you would talk to Paul Reubens about where you want PeeWee Herman to stand, etc.
Did you experience both roles with interacting with the Walking Dead actors?
I communicate to the actors and then we watch as they create the characters. In this case the actors REALLY get into their roles and it is thrilling and intense to watch the energy that goes into creating that persona.
Was this a challenging edit, getting the pieces for each cover?
Dylan and I communicated that we’d need what we called a “money shot” for the main image for the cover and that this moment would be fully opaque while the series evolved in varying ghostings behind this main shot. It was certainly a larger editing process than usual but my boss, Lisa Berman, reminded me that we were producing four covers that week. I did not leave the office for a month before 10pm.
Was it predetermined where the cover lines would fall so you could use the full cover space?
No, type is never predetermined before a shoot comes in, but I have learned to always leave room for it. Tim Leong, our Design Director, made the handwritten type himself for this cover.
There’s a lot of energy ( and blood ) on these covers, describe the mood on set. ( music and so on… )
This was my third time on a “Walking Dead” set and we were on location in Atlanta where the new season takes place. We set up shop in a warehouse on a gorgeous wreck of a broken train repair yard from the early 1900s. It was old and falling apart and for photography, it was beautiful. I’ve also never been so hot in my life.
The great thing about this show is everyone wants to give Entertainment Weekly 1000 percent. The actors work harder than anyone and that energy was definitely captured by Dylan on film (well, digital pixels). Norman Reedus played Mötörhead for his setup. Andrew Lincoln cranked Metallica and the duo of Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan were moving to The Black Keys new record. The only noise during Danai Gurira’s shoot was the sound of her blade slicing through the air. It was thrilling to watch them all in action.
You deal with celebrities all the time, when’s the last time you’ve been star struck? ( if ever ).
I get excited to work with people and have been privileged to have experiences that are meaningful to me. You treasure these moments. If I like someone’s work I am grateful that I get to tell them this fact. Sometimes I’ve had artists make music in front of me and I definitely “OMG” to myself quietly. Oh who am I trying to kid, I WORKED WITH DAVID BOWIE. Yep, he struck me as a star. When he walked into the studio it was like the sun lit up the whole room. He was an A+ professional and ate lunch with the crew. I stole the napkin he used to wipe chicken off his hands so in the future I could make a genetic copy of David Bowie. I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job aside from the schedule.
Working with uncooperative people.
Did you choose that warehouse location because the crew had shot there before and they were familiar?
The location is Terminus on the show. AMC happened to be shooting there and we got our own spot on that lot as well. AMC shot their ad campaign and Gallery Art/Specials on the same weekend we got time with the cast in Atlanta.
Tell me about the gallery feel you created on set, I know Dylan found this very helpful to set the tone.
Photographer, Art Streiber and my boss Lisa Berman actually taught me about having references up on the day of a shoot. I sketch cover concepts sometimes and get these pitches to the talent or the network/record label when we’re in concept discussions. Since we don’t have talent for very long it helps if you can quickly show them what you’re up to. There is no way to explain a multiple exposure to someone but as soon as they see it they get excited. I had a pretty great (and decrepit) gallery space. Dylan and I joked that it would be a great loft space someday. It was a Dylan Coulter show in a Zombie Apocalypse setting. No wine and cheese though, but lots of zombie blood.
Why did you chose a concept cover for The Walking Dead?
For a show like The Walking Dead I didn’t want to repeat a “hero pose” so Dylan’s work was a great way to make this action show dimensional. It was something new to get to fans and it worked out really well.