David Lynch, Johnny Depp and other superstars join forces for cancer stricken filmmaker

David Lynch may not have made a movie in over a decade, as he tends to spend his days focusing on the Transcendental Meditation movement.

That didn’t stop Lynch, along with some celebrity friends, helping out a young admirer who wanted to make a zombie movie.

Anthony Conti, a 16-year-old hospital patient who is fighting stage IV adrenal cortical cancer wanted nothing more than to make a zombie movie.

Thanks to the Make A Film Foundation, his dreams were able to come true.


In addition to David Lynch, a number of high-profile filmmakers Sam including Raimi, Catherine Hardwicke and Ted Melfi also got involved.

This Expendables-style team of masters was joined by acting elite in the form of; Johnny Depp, J.K. Simmons, Laura Dern, Penelope Ann Miller, Richard Chamberlain, Jade Pettyjohn, Chad Coleman, Pritesh Shah and Keith Allan.

The result of everyone’s combined efforts was Conti’s zombie short ‘The Black Ghiandola.’


The Hollywood Reporter broke the story, which was subsequently taken up by a number of horror movie sites and went viral:

Make a Film Foundation — a nonprofit launched in 2007 by Tamika Lamison (who also works as a researcher/consultant in the Education Department at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) that grants film wishes for children with serious or life-threatening medical conditions — collaborated with Conti to get the short film off the ground, a zombie project called The Black Ghiandola which Conti wrote with Scott Kosar (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and additional writing by Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice).


Black Ghiandola tells the story of a young man, played by Conti, who risks his life saving a young girl he has grown to love after his family has been killed during a zombie apocalypse. Producers included Lamison, Adele Rene and Bettina Fisher with supervising producers Peter Farrelly and Sean Furst.

The three directors, Rami, Hardwicke and Melfi, took turns behind the camera during the five-day shoot, which Lamison described as a magical piece of “guerrilla filmmaking.” The project, which went before cameras in mid-November, marked the fastest preproduction and production schedule in Make a Film Foundation’s history. The org, which typically plans each project out for almost a year, saw Conti’s idea go from conception to set in one month, all with the help of the aforementioned talent who generously donated their time.

“His film has nothing to do with cancer. It’s him making his film, his way,” Lamison notes of Conti, who also recently participated in an Academy experience that included a screening of his previous short film Twinkle, Twinkle on the big screen at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, and a surprise video clip showing a shout-out from the cast of The Walking Dead. “What I love about Anthony is his courage, his sense of humor, his profound sense of self, his huge heart and intensity as a human being and a filmmaker. We are all better for having Anthony Conti invite us to be a part of his life and his film.”

David Johnny Depp

Colin J McCracken
Colin J McCracken

Director and Executive Editor

Colin J McCracken is an Irish editor and writer of both fiction and journalism. Coming from a background in education and film, his passions are split between the environmental and the entertaining. Constantly striving for a more sustainable existence and trying to balance it while simultaneously buying too many books.