Filmmaker Gareth Edwards Talks About His Monsters

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Armed with two actors, a producer, a translator, a sound guy and a budget of less than $100,000, director Gareth Edwards set to make a feature-length film which would have him traversing from Central America to the United States border. Monsters is an interesting example of guerilla filmmaking. Besides the two actors, everyone else and all the locations were improvised from what was there on the day of shooting. Using careful Photoshop techniques and special effects, Edwards molded the movie to be what he wanted it to be about. The result: A “monster” movie that is much more than about those creatures that go bump in the night.

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Michelle Castillo: Monsters reminded me a lot of the first half of District 9. There’s a lot of social context behind it. Were you trying to talk about the immigration debate?

Gareth Edwards: I’ve never been to Mexico before we sat down and landed to start filming that movie so I had no agenda about Mexican immigration or anything like that. It was really not part of why this film was happening at all. Inevitably, it creeps into the movie because it’s so teed up, the metaphor of the wall and everything, it would apply to any country we went to. There’s always some internal politics in any country about two sides of something, so I think wherever we shot the film someone would have gone, “Ah you’re commenting on our internal problem!”

The one allegorical political thing that did interest me was the idea of labeling something a monster, calling it evil and then feeling like we have to eradicate it because it kills people, right, which is fine. But at what price do you kill a monster? If you are killing, in terms of eradicating it, if you end up killing 100 times or 1000 times more people than the thing you are killing ever kills, is that worth it? Or is it acceptable because it’s foreign people and not western people? So those sort of debates, I know we have a monster movie so it’s not serious as all that, but that’s the level of questions I really like. I again (regarding) the aliens in the film: I don’t think they would be evil or good. They just trying to survive.

MC: So, without spoiling too much what are the intentions of the aliens throughout the movie?

GE: It’s like they’re doing what the characters in the film are doing is that they’re trying to connect, they’re just trying to find a mate and they’re just trying to find a connection in a way. Their end goal is very similar to our characters end goal. I think some people it just goes over their heads.

MC: Some critics of your film have said there aren’t enough monsters in the movie. You brought up the point during your New York Comic Con panel is that some of the greatest monster movies, like Jaws, don’t constantly show the monster.

GE: I think what frustrates (people who want more monsters) is maybe in those other films they are constantly forced to think about the monster. Is it around the corner? Is it going to jump out? Is it going to do this? Whereas in our film, they are forced to think about things other than the monster. They are forced to think about are these two people going to make a connection. Are they going to get on the ferry on time? Is the military going to bomb? It’s not is this giant thing going to rip us to shreds. I think people get frustrated with the film because the main train of thought is not always the creatures.

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