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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

ef­fects. As he tells it, the money was so good and the work so plen­ti­ful that he started to be­come a bit com­pla­cent.

“I can re­mem­ber look­ing at com­puter an­i­ma­tion when I was younger and think­ing: it’s good, but it will take a few years be­fore it’s per­fect. In a few years, I’ll make a film us­ing these skills, I thought. Then a few years be­came a decade.”

Now es­tab­lished as a vis­ual ef­fects artist, Ed­wards found it dif­fi­cult to “claw his way” back into dra­matic film-mak­ing. Hap­pily, we are now in an era where, if you’ve got a good lap­top and a great deal of tal­ent, you can make a sci­ence-fic­tion movie for the price of an in­die woolly-hat com­edy. Join­ing forces with Ver­tigo Films, an up-and-com­ing UK dis­tri­bu­tion and pro­duc­tion com­pany, he set out to make Mon­sters us­ing guer­rilla strate­gies. Many of the sup­port­ing ac­tors are amateurs. Happy ac­ci­dents en­coun­tered on the shoot were in­cor­po­rated into the fi­nal cut. Much of the di­a­logue is im­pro­vised.

“Oh yeah, I would say about 80 per cent is im­pro­vised,” he says. “It was all to do with mak­ing it feel as re­al­is­tic as pos­si­ble. I didn’t want di­a­logue right on the nose. I liked all the ran­dom­ness. I had a para­graph writ­ten in black ink that de­scribed what hap­pened in the scene, then, in blue ink, there’d be a de­scrip­tion of the emo­tions we wanted to get across and what we wanted to learn about the char­ac­ters.”

He’s an in­ven­tive chap, this Mr Ed­wards.

irish­times.com/cul­ture

Where other bud­ding film-mak­ers might plough their way through Scriptwrit­ing For Dum­mies, wor­ry­ing over a “key in­ci­dent” for page 17, Gareth de­vised his own, im­pres­sively orig­i­nal ap­proach to the art. While trav­el­ling through Mex­ico, he made it his busi­ness to grab in­ter­est­ing strangers and drag them into the ac­tion. He seems to have grasped Jean-Luc Go­dard’s fa­mous dic­tum to the ef­fect that, to make a film, all you need is a “girl and a gun”.

“The Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties gave us this body­guard and he looked so cool that we tried to get him into as many shots as pos­si­ble. If any­body was about with a gun we tried to get it into the frame.”

The loose­ness of Ed­wards’s tech­nique does lend the film the de­sired funky, or­ganic feel. But there are also con­sis­tent, well-de­vel­oped themes run­ning through Mon­sters. De­spite its ver­ité en­er­gies, Mon­sters feels like the work of an or­dered, fo­cused brain. No­body could watch the movie with­out de­tect­ing cer­tain po­lit­i­cal un­der­cur­rents. In par­tic­u­lar, the film-mak­ers ap­pear to have things to say about the US’s cur­rent para­noia con­cern­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. A wall di­vides Mex­ico from the US. The bar­rier is al­legedly in place to pro­tect against ex­trater­res­trial in­cur­sions, but the par­al­lels with cur­rent right-wing de­mands for a sim­i­lar struc­ture – di­rected at an­other class of “alien” – are im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore.

“Erm, yeah. There were at­tempts at a po­lit­i­cal al­le­gory,” he ad­mits with a smidgeon of re­luc­tance. “But, oddly, my main in­ter­est was in the ‘war on ter­ror’. Here is this threat. How many peo­ple should the state kill to de­feat it? Why are western lives re­garded as more valu­able? To be hon­est, we would have had the wall if we’d shot the film any­where else. But it does work as an al­le­gory for the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue. That’s fine. I al­ways think that what peo­ple read into a film says more about them than it does about the film. I like that.”

That sense of western gov­ern­ments car­ing less about third world lives does come through strongly.

“Peo­ple said to me: ‘You have this area in­fested with aliens. No­body would live there in real life.’ And I said: ‘ What about hur­ri­canes? They come along ev­ery year in the same ar­eas and peo­ple live there.’ Some peo­ple have no choice.”

At any rate, the un­usual com­bi­na­tion of in­ti­mate drama and so­cio-po­lit­i­cal horror show has al­ready drawn a lot of in­dus­try at­ten­tion to­wards young Mr Ed­ward. Timur Bek­mam­be­tov, the tal­ented, brash di­rec­tor of Wanted and Night Watch, has signed a deal with Ed­wards and, when vis­it­ing Los An­ge­les, he can barely put his head out­side the door with­out be­ing dragged into a meet­ing.

“Yeah. It’s crazy,” he says. “They seem to col­lect meet­ings in LA. They have them just for the sake of hav­ing them. Sev­eral times I’ve walked away say­ing: ‘What on earth was the point of that?’” One thinks of Robert Altman’s The Player. The phrase “ Lost in Trans­la­tion meets District 9” would, I imag­ine, make sense to those peo­ple.

“I hope they’re start­ing to say Mon­sters meets Mon­sters,” he says with a good­na­tured snort.

I reckon he can count on it. (Co-Op) In­die beeps and bleeps from Crys­tal Cas­tles, Fever Ray (cov­er­ing Stranger Than Kind­ness by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), Zola Je­sus, Washed Out and OTR faves Fac­tory Floor.

(Warner Bros) Easy-on-the-ear power-pop odes to love and life from Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice.

(All City) This fresh-as-a-daisy new-school boo­gie tune from the Dublin-born-and-raised pro­ducer comes com­plete with a head­spin­ning, breath­tak­ing remix by Hud­son Mo­hawke.

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