Puppets, zombies and boxers.
These are just a few of the characters that 1995 College graduate Todd Lieberman has worked on and developed throughout his career in Hollywood as a movie producer.
On Friday, Lieberman’s latest film “Warm Bodies” hit screens around the country.
“Warm Bodies” is a zombie love story set during the apocalypse but it is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. “The film is making light of the earnestness of those genres, but treading that fine line [so] that it doesn’t become a spoof,” Lieberman said.
“It is a romance, action, horror and comedy — all of these blended together,” he added.
Lieberman’s latest film has captured students’ attentions precisely for its blend of different genres.
“I basically watch every movie trailer, but this one caught my eye because its meshes the new popular genre of zombie, vampire movies that are currently big in Hollywood, with romantic movies as well,” College freshman Efraim Saltzman said.
College freshman Neera Thavornvanit agreed,“I want to go see the movie because its different from other movies that I’ve seen … it combines both a scary plot line with a romance and I think that’s going to be really interesting.”
The movie is based off of a book with the same title by Isaac Marion, published in November 2011. The novel is about a young zombie who falls in love with a human girl. When the materials landed on Lieberman’s desk, he thought it was “really unique” and had a tone that he hadn’t really seen before in this type of genre.
Lieberman has worked on a variety of films since leaving Penn. He has produced movies spanning multiple genres, including “The Muppets,” “The Proposal” and “The Fighter” — which got him nominated for an Academy Award for best motion picture in January 2011.
“The job of a producer is to have taste enough to be discerning and find things that I love and hope that the general public will love them as well,” Lieberman said.
His love for producing began at a young age and developed through his time at Penn. He wrote, directed and produced for the group Mask and Wig, which is the oldest all-male collegiate musical comedy troupe in America.
According to Lieberman, Penn helped “through Mask and Wig and took those same exact desires” for storytelling and made them grow.
Lieberman said that the troupe became his mentors, and eventually helped him land his first job in the entertainment business.
Ryan Dew, a College senior and chair of Mask and Wig said, “[The group] gives an incredible experience for people who want experience at comedy writing because it’s not just for a class but something where you work with a group of people.”
The writers for Mask and Wig produce full-length shows in the spring, Dew said. It gives them the opportunity to come up with funny ideas, incorporate them into a show and discover what things work and what don’t.
“A lot of people say they came to college and majored in Mask and Wig and minored in whatever they studied,” Dew said.
Though Lieberman has been gone from Penn almost two decades, his experience here still influences his life today.
“I always loved the idea of people being able to tell stories and move people in emotional ways,” Lieberman said. “Penn helped grow that.”