Filmmaker Gareth Edwards brings giant aliens and cows together in an atypical film debut.
How does a filmmaker with a miniature budget bring his vision of larger-than-life aliens to life? In the case of Gareth Edwards, writer-director of “Monsters,” it took hard work, luck, and a heckuva lot of cows.
The young British filmmaker’s feature debut hits theaters this weekend, going up against “Saw 3D.” Clearly, “Monsters” is the underdog, but it’s still garnering some big buzz and strong reviews. Web searchers are intrigued. Over the past 24 hours, lookups on “monsters” and “monsters the movie” have both surged in the Search box.
Those finicky critics are also largely impressed. James Berardinelli of Reelviews calls the film “a remarkable achievement” and the Hollywood Reporter commends Edwards for adding “original touches to the genre, especially where production design is concerned.
That was no easy task. The budget was tiny (Edwards isn’t sure how much production cost, but rest assured it was a fraction of your average Hollywood flick), most of the cast had never acted before, and the script was sometimes being written just minutes before filming. And yet, amazingly, the chaos seems to have worked, because Edwards embraced it. After all, he had no choice.
“There is a point in the movie,” Edwards says, “when the characters come up against a bunch of cows.” The director explained that this bovine encounter wasn’t in the script. But the cows refused to move, so the guerilla filmmaker found a way to work them into the movie. No word on whether they were paid scale.
Indeed, the film went through a lot of changes over the years. Originally, Edwards explained in an interview, the story used “found footage” from a video recorder. But then “Cloverfield,” a movie that used that exact technique, came out, and Edwards had to change things up.
He now describes the finished product as less like a typical monster movie and more like, believe it or not, “Lost in Translation.” “It’s a drama and a road movie about two people who are stuck with each other,” he explained. Except unlike that Bill Murray-Scarlett Johansson picture, “Monsters” features giant tentacled creatures. Oh, and a lot of of cows.