History 3

Summer 1977
Pre-production for Dawn of the Dead begins, and George Romero makes what well may be the very first mention of the project to any public media while talking with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entertainment editor George Anderson (who has literally covered every little step of the director’s career on a regular basis in his columns since the early 1970s) for an article that mainly revolves around his then most-current work, Martin. In addition to revealing that “it’s another horror film,” Romero also tells the journalist about the involvement of Dario Argento, and that he just recently has finished the script in Italy. According to Anderson’s piece, which is published in the paper’s July 13, 1977 edition, filming for the “untitled” movie is “probably beginning in September.”

Fall 1977
Casting sessions for the film are held in New York City. Two of the film’s three male leads, David Emge and Scott Reiniger, are recruited from the staff of a Lower Manhattan restaurant called “Lady Astor’s”, which serves as some kind of temporary workplace for what will eventually become known as “the Romero family” in between movie projects, and also includes John (Martin) Amplas, Dawn unit manager/lead zombie Jay Stover, and George’s assistant director (and later wife), Christine Forrest. The two remaining stars, Ken Foree and Gaylen Ross (who has no real acting experience whatsoever and thus hands George Romero a fake resume) are auditioning for their respective roles after they have heard about the local casting from friends.

November 6, 1977
Principal photography for Dawn of the Dead commences at the Monroeville Mall, with the first exterior shots of zombies roaming the facility’s parking lot being filmed.


November ??, 1977
Dawn’s four main actors travel from New York into Pittsburgh together, on a flight that has to circle over their destination airport for about 45 minutes due to heavy turbulences which, according to Gaylen Ross, affect Ken Foree so much he secretly throws up in the plane’s lavatory.

November 13 – December 12, 1977
A busy shooting schedule that has the cast and crew working six-day weeks (later even expanded to seven) will see Romero moving the film’s production back and forth between the Monroeville Mall and several other locations in and around Pittsburgh, in order to get as many set-ups and shots as possible. Key scenes filmed beyond the mall during this period include Peter and Roger getting the Macks at the “B&P” truck yard, the airfield sequence, the confrontation of the four heroes with a group of policemen at the boat dock, the redneck posse “hunting” scenes, and the S.W.A.T. housing project raid, which takes a total of seven days to shoot.