When I get asked what my job title is I'm usually left with a confused and eyebrow raised expression as a reaction to my answer, very much like that emoji we've all grown to love. Sometimes I'm met with the classic jaw drop and a “No way that's so cool!"
Or they just look at me as if I'm a weirdo and start scouting the room for the nearest exit.
Truth is, its quite hard to envision and understand what I do unless you experience it first hand.
As a simple 'I'm in charge of a horde of Zombies and throw civilians into an apocalypse every weekend' doesn't quite cut it.
So let's start at the beginning…
Hi! My names Ash and I'm the Event Manager here at Zombie Infection.
I help manage all our events spread across the UK. From Liverpool to Somerset. At each event the paying public are thrown into the most realistic apocalypse scenarios you could ever imagine, following our Zombie Experience storyline we like to call our 'Zombiverse'. I wasn't always in this position, nor did I ever think this kind of job even existed! I kind of fell into it.
I've seen my fair share of horror entertainment, from the classic horror attractions in Ohio, America to the Thorpe Park Fright Nights mazes that take place in October. But never had I ever seen anything like the production and immersion that Zombie Infection has to offer.
I started as a customer, I met Zombie Infection's director Greg Rudman through The Walking Dead Maze (Living Nightmare) at Thorpe Park Fright Nights, I was just your typical fresh meat zombie, latex in my hair, tooth enamel in my teeth, in awe of my surroundings. Greg was playing the almighty Negan along side being an IP consultant, considering he is a zombie experience expert. Well straight away I admired his acting style while playing Negan, that's when I got invited to try his experience as a customer. How could I say no?!
The way he described it I knew I had to go see what it was all about. I'm a massive scaredy cat, truth be told I was shitting bricks the entire way through! (Shhh don't tell anyone 😅)
I fell in love. Seeing how much effort went into the makeup, the costumes, the storyline, the way they managed to pull it all off as well as music and lighting cues. Everything was built and made from scratch, the Intel, the props, the sets, it felt like I was in the middle of a movie set. It was insane. I'd honestly never seen or taken part in anything like this before. I knew I had to be part of it and lucky enough I was asked to come on board and join the team.
Almost 4 years later, after starting out as a zombie, keeping my head down and pushing myself best I could (along with sweat, blood and the occasional tear from trying to put those bloody lenses in)
I'm now sitting opposite the Director as the Event Manager, in an office we constructed at Shepton Mallet prison.
My role as Event Manager involves many random tasks. Clearly, I keep them well fed with fresh meat every weekend to make sure their skin and teeth are well maintained. But my attention isn't solely on the staff, I also keep on top of kit we use for each zombie experience, making sure props are up to standard and weapon systems that we use are well maintenanced, I could go on for hours.
There's a large admin side of things too which involve working closely with the Director as well as our Social Media Manager, emails and relationships with venue owners. To be honest, I'm still learning the ins and outs of it all but what I've learnt so far is way beyond what I thought was involved. In regards to pushing a business and keeping staff happy and clients entertained, constantly keeping on top of things. It can get a little overwhelming sometimes. Seeing the behind the scenes of a business down to its core has definitely been an eye opener, but it is a giant learning curve which I'm grateful to be a part of.
It's definitely been a journey. I've been lucky enough to see things like abandoned castles, giant manors (just like Resident Evil), bunkers and caves. The list goes on! And meet people like directors, opportunities in taking part in movies as zombie extras, we've even had influencers such as The Wave House from TikTok set foot on our turf.
I've learnt many things, life skills that will help me in years to come and learning what it really takes to run a business like this. It's a graft, and yes there are days where you just want to bang your head against a wall. I won't lie to you, it's not all rainbows, it's hard work and it's not for everyone. However, the pay off and the feeling I get with this job is unlike any other and makes everything worth it. It is the most unique and rewarding job I will ever have, no doubt.
Seeing people you've hired grow and enjoy the job is a personal highlight for me. That and the sense of community, the memories I've made and the people I've met here aren't just colleagues, they truly are family and when I think of Zombie Infection I don't just hear the screams and see the jump scares, I also hear the laughter and stories we all have to tell.
If you ever get a chance to take part in one of our award winning zombie experiences, take it! I promise you won't regret it.
That's it from me, I'll hope to see you next time at an event or we're always hiring zombie experience scare actors so in years to come you might be the one writing the blog as an Zombie Infection Event Manger!