There is a message that the creators of The Driving Dead and Michael Rooker want you to hear and the best way to make you hear it, is with these ingenious PSA videos found at their website The Driving Dead Series.
The Driving Dead is a campaign for safety behind the wheel blended with Americas hottest TV property, The Walking Dead. Aided by The Walking Dead's superstar actor Michael Rooker (Merle) who lends his outstanding talents to the safety service announcements.
I recently had the pleasure to chat with Michael Rooker himself at this years #WWMadison Comic-Con about this fantastic project that he is so very proud to share with everyone.
Here is Moviepilot's exclusive interview with Michael Rooker:
Alright Mr. Rooker, all I want to talk about is The Driving Dead!
Michael Rooker: "Let's get it!"
The first time I watched an episode I was in a friends basement. I was telling my friend about the webisodes which he had no inkling about at all. So I said, "look for the YouTube videos and lets rock this!"
Michael Rooker: "What did you think?"
I loved it! My friend had these huge house speakers connected to his PC so we had the first Driving Dead episode start playing, and it was just perfect! It was LOUD, it was OBNOXIOUS, and in one word: It was BADASS.
Michael Rooker: "Hell yeah!"
Now to get it clear: That is not Merle from The Walking Dead show right?
Michael Rooker: "No"
Right, It's a whole different character, correct?
Michael Rooker: "Yeah, It's a WHOLE different thing, yes. They're were inspired by The Walking Dead. 'Cause the idea was to reach young drivers and influence them in a positive way to buckle up and be safe on the highway. What better way to use the most popular TV show and one of it's most popular characters (actors)? They built it around that whole concept."
That worked brilliantly!
Michael Rooker: "Yeah!"
There's quite a few webisodes being produced, right?
Michael Rooker: "There is going to be a couple more. They did enough filming and they'll break it down into episodes."
Are you going to be featured in all of them or was it just the one time?
Michael Rooker: "They'll have me in and out."
How proud are you of this project compared to all of your other projects?
Michael Rooker: "I love the concept. My brother died in a car crash, he didn't have his safety belt on. He got thrown from the car, the car rolled over him and he died. So when they asked me to do it...I jumped and said, 'Let's do it!' If I can get anyone to think twice about drinking and driving, or driving without their belt on, or irresponsible driving.....I'm all for it!"
I have to say; I do love how they draw you in with these stories and then at the end of the webisodes they hit you with the message. It's a bit cheesy but it works. It gets the fans in and then, BANG - you teach them something while you're at it.
Michael Rooker: "I think it's cool. I LOVE IT! It's a great concept."
Like I said, I loved it as well.
Michael Rooker: "I am really glad you brought this up!"
The Driving Dead has all the look and feel of a Walking Dead episode but with a more dramatic tone and emphasis on Rooker's character. I do highly suggest you watch these webisodes with surround sound and just take it for what it is. An over-the-top PSA announcement, not just another Walking Dead spin-off. You will more than enjoy it...if not, dead Merle will find and eat you!
With loud cars, heavy machine gun rounds blasting, and music blaring, I can describe the The Driving Dead webisodes in only one word: BADASS!
I have provided you with the first two Driving Dead Episodes below:
The Driving Dead - The Complex (Episode 1):
The Driving Dead - The Gas Station (Episode 2):
The Driving Dead - The Escape (Episode 3):
The Driving Dead - The Chase (Episode 4):
MannysPlace extra Interview bonus: While the interview was about to begin I had reminded Michael that we had crossed paths before a few times. Michael Rooker Media posted one of my Moviepilot blogs on his personal website (GotG Q&A with James Gunn and Michael Rooker) which I had to thank him for. Also Michael and I have met before, at last years #WWChicago Comic-Con where Mr. Rooker gave me a sweet picture of himself flipping me off!
So this part takes place after the interview is concluded and I am showing Michael Rooker the photo op he did for me last year at #WWChicago where he gave me the bird:
Here's the picture you gave to me last year, sir.
Michael Rooker: "Well you deserve it"
It was funny because you were going to give me a chest out Superman style pose and I said, "Give me your best side!" and the next thing I know you're like BOOM - you flip me off! It had the whole room dying laughing! So, if you do not mind, sir... if you could give me something new?
Michael Rooker: "Just for you...DOUBLE!"
[laughing] Thank you again Michael, for another wonderful meeting.
Michael Rooker: "No, thank you!"