MONSTERS Takes Guerrilla Filmmaking to New Heights
Published: September 19, 2010 - 12:58pm
Monsters is constantly being compared to last year's District 9. Just as D9 did nearing its release, Monsters has been gaining momentum with critical praise and images on screen that do not reflect their meager budgets. One key component that is drastically different though is the style of filmmaking.
Director Gareth Edwards has used a guerrilla style usually reserved for documentaries to make “the world’s most realistic monster movie.” . If you are not familiar with the film's story, it takes place in Mexico six years after a good chunk of the country has become overrun by a creature-creating bacteria brought about by a fallen space probe. A jaded US journalist (McNairy) begrudgingly agrees to find his boss’ daughter, a shaken American tourist (Able) and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.
During the movie, the border is being solidified by a giant wall to keep the creatures away. The political and social ideas were not lost on the film's story:
“It’s different looking at America from the outside in,” says one character. Another character says the wall may keep things out, but you get locked in.
The first idea for the movie came to Edwards after seeing some fishermen pulling out a net and not paying attention to the contents. "It’d be funny if they pulled out a dead sea creature,” he recalled thinking.
Through careful planning and a series of fortunate events, the director was able to bring his vision to life. His first task was to cast the main characters which happened to come in the way of an acting couple that gave their scenes true chemistry. He also found"amazing local non-actors to work on the film" in Central America with one key character of a scene being cast a mere 10 minutes before filiming began. Dialogue was mainly improvised with just a blueprint of talking points in blue and black pages, one conveying the emotional beats, the other the physical.
The movie features downed fighter planes, ships lying upside down in jungles, and husks of buildings in the aftermaths of monster attacks. Most of that was done by CGI, as were the creatures themselves, but the part of the movie which features a devastated American neighborhood was real: it was shot in Galveston, Texas after Hurricane Ike ripped through it.
“It was delicate,” said McNairy of the shoot. "Everyone was mourning their losses.”
Edwards has certainly caught the eye of Hollywood studios as he is now collaborating with Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) on an untitled project.