George Romero | The A.V. Club
In a nutshell: romero wants to examine how observing an event can distance you from that event, and what that means in the context of our modern YouTube/CitizenReporter culture.
George Romero: Oddly, that's a complicated question. Land Of The Dead was a grueling film to make. I just felt that the whole franchise had gotten too big, and was sort of approaching Thunderdome. It had nothing to do with the roots that it grew from, which was just a bunch of young people making a movie in Pittsburgh. Partly, I was longing to go back to that simple, all-in-control, working-with-friends environment. Also, I did have an idea, and that idea had come even before we started to shoot Land Of The Dead. I was stunned by the effect of all this emerging media, and how everybody was getting sucked in not only as viewers, but as reporters. It says on CNN that if you see something outside your window, shoot it and they'll put it on the air. I wanted to write something about that. I've never done any of the other zombie films without that sort of inspiration. In fact, I've always resisted doing a zombie movie for the sake of doing a zombie movie.
So I had the idea, and the idea was very suitable for going back to "the first night." There's a couple of collections of short stories called Book Of The Dead, written by horror fiction writers of note, including guys like Stephen King, all writing stories about what was happening to people on that first night of Night Of The Living Dead. And I said: "Well, I could do that, too." My idea was to have these film students out shooting a school project, and then the shit hits the fan, so they go out to document it. And that has to be the "first night," because if it were three years in, they wouldn't be attending classes any more. That was it. It all came together and seemed right.
And on the casting of the lead in the original Night of the Living Dead:
I made the first film, then all of a sudden people started to write about it like it was an essential American movie. And a lot of that was accidental. We cast an African-American actor because he was the best actor from among our friends. And when we finished the film, literally as we were driving it to New York in the trunk of a car, that was the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. So the movie became a reflection of the times. There's a certain anger in the movie already, but a lot of why that film gets applause is because Wayne is a black guy. In the script, his race is never mentioned. In my mind, when I wrote that initial scene, he was a white guy. And he would've been shot by the police even if he was a white guy. But because he happened to be an African-American, that made it much stronger, particularly after the assassination. We shouldn't take all the credit for that. A lot of it was an accident.