Recently, CineVue sat down with Monsters (2010) director Gareth Edwards to discuss his explosion onto the UK film scene and the challenges he faced in bringing his superb debut feature to life. He takes us through the process, discussing production, politics and even Doctor Who – though he’s not a fan. Shortly after winning the Sci-fi 48hr Film Challenge in 2008, Edwards had the pitch for his first feature, Monsters, green-lit by Vertigo Films. However, it wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind: “When you’re pitching a film, it’s best to pretend you’ve got three ideas – you have the one you want to pitch, then you purposely invent two really shit ones, so that your real idea looks better. Or that’s what I thought, then they picked the one I wasn’t really prepared to do.”
Anybody who’s ever tried filming anything on location will probably know what a hassle it can be. Edwards’ team had a few cunning plans along the way to make things look seamless. In one funny incident he explains “I kept saying: if there’s anything that we ever get near like ‘this’, you’ve got to tell us, and one of things that I kept asking about was massive barriers – like a crossing point – because I felt like there should be this Jurassic Park moment going into the infected zone; sort of like, “here’s the entrance to the scary place”. Everyone’s thinking about it and we’re like ‘surely, the border crossing from Mexico to somewhere is going to look like that, so that would be great. We looked at all the different crossings and the only one that looked half okay was between Belize and Guatemala – so, we went through Belize pretty much just to go through the barrier; it’s the scene in the film where they go into the infected zone and they’re spraying the truck. I was adamant that it was a one take deal, that we should really go through with our passports. They [the border police] didn’t really mind – they’ve got bigger fish to fry – and we shot it.”
Monsters has also attracted some of criticism for its ending, with some finding it too abrupt. Edwards explained to us how he arrived at that final edit and why. “The way it was written was that the ending happens at the beginning and then is repeated at the end. The first cut of the film had that, and everyone watched it, having gone on this massive emotional journey with these two people and then suddenly there was this ending that just knocked them for six. And they were just like ‘you can’t do that to people’. So I showed it to a handful of people that were in the office and everyone came back with the same feedback. For me it was the whole point of the movie and I was like ‘I’m not losing this battle’ and the producers were like ‘we’re not losing this battle either’. It wasn’t a fall out, it was ‘how the hell can we make this work for everyone’? And it just occurred to me at one point that if we cut it after they kiss, we kind of get our cake and eat it.”
Gareth Edwards’ Monsters is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 11 April, courtesy of Vertigo Films.