Gareth Edwards Explains How He Created Monsters
Posted 11.10.10 by Ryan
Gareth Edwards's Monsters has impressed audiences since it debuted at the L.A. Film Festival, and was produced for only a $15,000 dollar budget, which was only possible because Edwards worked as writer, director, director of photography, and visual effects designer on the project.
Monsters follows a a photojournalist (Scoot McNairy) as he escorts his publisher's daughter (Whitney Able) through a quarantined area in Mexico filled with giant alien creatures. Edwards told Fangoria how he came up with the idea for the movie.
It was really a concept in search of a story, to start with. I was on holiday and watching these fisherman pull in a net from the ocean, and I just thought, "Wouldn’t it be funny if when they finally pulled this thing out of the water, it was this massive sea creature?" Obviously, the men weren’t actually reacting to anything, just pulling the net in, and it was like, "That would make an interesting premise—you have this crazy situation, but nobody reacts to it at all; it’s years down the line, and everyone’s gotten used to it."
Edwards explained that the actors were "completely free" to create their own dialogue, since Edwards had only written the story for the movie. Casting the movie was "very simple," Edwards admits, since "We didn’t have any auditions."
As part of the process of figuring out how we were gonna do the film, Vertigo, which financed and produced it, said, "You should watch this film we’re distributing called In Search of a Midnight Kiss. It was made for $15,000," or whatever. Scoot starred in it, and it struck me that he was a brilliant actor, but I really wanted a couple. They made a phone call about him doing another project, and during that they asked, "He doesn’t have a girlfriend, does he?" and he was like, "Yeah, and she’s an actress." He sent her picture thinking that would seal the deal, because Whitney’s gorgeous, but I just thought, "Nah, she’s too good-looking," and I didn’t want it to be this kind of Hollywood thing. But then I met her, and she was so not what I expected her to be. She was so down to earth and really keen to portray that as well, because she would get typecast as bimbos or bitches or whatever. So I thought, "If I can get just a piece of these two and their real personalities on screen, that would be fantastic."
Edwards also designed the monsters in Monsters, a process that became daunting after Edwards had created "thousands of sketches" of which 140 were presented to the movie's producers. Eventually, Edwards pointed to his favorite and that was that. Despite the seemingly arbitrary process, Edwards says there's a scientific theory behind the creatures in Monsters.
The idea was—and it’s actually in the film, very subtly—that if you ask any scientist about the most likely place you’d find alien life in our solar system, it would be a moon outside Jupiter called Europa. It has an ice surface, but it’s cracked and moving, so they know that inside is a molten core and a liquid ocean, and that’s exactly the same conditions that spawned life on Earth. So I looked at those volcanic vents, and the kind of life you get is crabs, crustaceans and cephalopods—octopi and squids. So I combined those two, and also bio-luminescence, because in my mind, the creatures are attracted to light, and in their world the only light they’re able to see is other creatures. So when they see lights, especially on another planet, they’d think, "Hey, there’s another...hello!" and go over and see what it is—which is why they attack the cities at night. So I had lots of silly extra details worked out.
Monsters is currently playing in limited release.