Lake Michigan Monster is a strange beast. Not the beast itself (sightings unconfirmed), but the film from writer, director and star Ryland Brickson Cole Tews. Lake Michigan Monster is a combination of black and white monster movie pastiche, George Méliès fever dream and a Monty Python sketch that just keeps going and going. I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview the man behind the madness of Lake Michigan Monster and this is what happened.
So, how did you come up with the idea for Lake Michigan Monster?
I was sitting on Wine Rock along the shores of Lake Michigan listening to pirate metal with Erick West (Sean Shaughnessy). It was raining and we were smoking Djarum Black Clove Cigarettes and drinking $3 sweet red wine. I turned to my companion and said, “What if a mermaid washed up on shore and we were the only ones around to see it?”
Did you always intend to direct the film? How did that opportunity come about?
Of course. No one else would be foolish enough to attempt such an inexplicable act.
Who or what are your influences when it comes to film and comedy?
Well for this picture, Guy Maddin, Monty Python, The ‘Burbs, early Sam Raimi, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Yentl.
What made you decide on the visual style for Lake Michigan Monster?
Necessity. All we had was an old barnacle-ridden camera and our wits. And then of course once Magic Mike Cheslik got involved, we really wanted to make this thing look like it was dug up out of the Earth. The reason was simply to stand out from the other 6 billion movies made every year.
How would you describe your sense of humour?
Hit and miss.
What are your favourite monster movies?
Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The Troll Market scene had a profound impact on me. And by profound, I mean, you know, it was tight.
What directors or writers inspire you to make films?
Japanese filmmakers inspire with their tireless work ethic. Guillermo del Toro with his imagination. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell because they grew up in Michigan and also made crazy small budget movies. And of course, Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan — writers, directors, actors, ATHLETES.
What’s your favourite urban monster myth?
If D.B. Cooper was a werewolf. But since he probably wasn’t, I’ll go with Mothman.
What’s your great white whale? What’s the one thing that seems out of reach that you want to achieve in your life?
Actually, I hope to one day slay a whale myself. Preferably an endangered one. (Edit – he’s kidding, definitely kidding)
What are you doing next? It’s an uncertain time right now, but if you can tell me anything you’ve got lined up then please do.
The new picture is a supernatural, no dialogue, physical comedy set during the height of America’s fur trade. The name of the movie is HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS.
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