Two Young Filmmakers with Down Syndrome Discuss Their Dream Zombie Movie

Thursday, June 10, 2021
sam and mattie discuss their zombie movie

   Young filmmakers Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt discuss their zombie movie and the journey that got them there.

Sam and Mattie Make Their Dream A Reality

As teenagers with Down syndrome, Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt used Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, to fund their dream of creating a zombie movie. Their latest work,”Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie,” takes a look at that journey and the creativity, determination, resourcefulness, and friendship they picked up along the way. Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript of the video above, click here.

Discussion Questions 

  • What is Sam and Mattie’s movie about?
  • Why did Sam and Mattie make the movie?
  • When and Where did Sam and Mattie film their movie?
  • Who were some of Sam and Mattie’s biggest supporters?
  • How did Sam and Mattie get the idea for this movie? How do Sam and Mattie’s different personalities complement each other?

Focus Questions

  1. Sam’s older brother, Jesse, says that Sam and Mattie’s “unwillingness to compromise” gave the whole team the confidence to move forward with the movie project. Compromise, however, is usually considered a good thing. How might an unwillingness to compromise also be a positive trait? 
  2. At the beginning of the interview, Sam says, “I feel like I never fit in anywhere or had a voice.” What are his unique challenges, and how did he face those challenges as he made the movie? How can we make sure the people around us feel seen and heard?
    • Disability is often ignored and not talked about. How might this do harm to disabled people? What are some ways we can include people who are disabled in our conversations and awareness? 

Media Literacy: Sam and Mattie’s condition, Down syndrome, is mentioned only once each in the article title and summary. In the interview, there is very little focus on this aspect of their identities. Why might producers have chosen not to focus on the fact that Sam and Mattie have Down syndrome?

Additional Resources

Check out these news stories about Sam and Mattie’s movie:


The nightmare zombie movie that started with a dream (transcript)


Meet Sam and Mattie, two inspired zombie teen movie makers – Transcript


Dig Deeper: 

  • Learn how to make your own movie! Check out how to get started here.
  • Learn about Down syndrome here.


Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.