Monster

A fable set in a pastoral post-apocalyptic time. Hannah, played by Jodelle Ferland, draws the winning lot to feed a terrifying hungry monster waiting in the forest.

When things go wrong and her offering escapes, she discovers the monster’s cunning secret.

Creative team

Writer/director: Deborah Burns
Producer: Rich Johnson

Filmmaker’s statement

Deborah Burns says:

“The story for Monster came to me on a walk on the seawall in the city of Vancouver. I’m interested in the influence of the media on the masses and how habitual rituals in our society aren’t questioned when they seem to have lost meaning or context. However, these ideas are painted into the background and the final story is more of a fun, dark fable.

Three weeks after completing the script, I submitted it to Vancouver’s Hot Shots Shorts contest which offers cash and in-kind services to get a short film made. Six weeks later I learned that my script was shortlisted to pitch to a panel of film professionals. My husband and producer, Rich Johnson, and I quickly pulled together a pitch package that surprised even us. Within a day we had enlisted actor Jodelle Ferland who was just wrapping The Twilight Sage: Eclipse and veteran cinematographer Jon Joffin.

First, we had to decide how we were going to create a monster. The choices were either creating a full scale animatronic puppet or making a computer generated monster. It turns out puppets are incredibly expensive, so that left the latter. Since Rich works in the animation industry we were able to find some experienced animators and VFX crew who were generous and enthusiastic to bring the monster to life. Once we had a team in place we were confident we could win the pitch.

The production was big. We had two trucks full of equipment donated to us from Whites and a 40 person crew ranging from film students to union professionals. The film was shot on the Red One MX with a beautiful lens package donated by Claremont Camera. The outdoor locations allowed for extreme wide shots that created a feeling of an untouched fantasy landscape and the shots captured on the dolly helped to create an epic look.

With all my directing choices, from live music to epic camera visuals, I tried to create the biggest buildup to the meeting of the monster. I want the audience to believe they are on a typical scary adventure, so they are surprised when (SPOILER ALERT) a cute little monster jumps into frame. It is funny and disarming, and I want people to fall into the trap of believing that this creature is harmless. He is, after all, a trickster who used an old microphone to control the village. But as the ending proves he is just a monster, no matter how cute or small.”

About Deborah Burns

Deborah-Burns

A native of Vancouver, Deborah Burns graduated with a BA from Simon Fraser University. She is a magazine art director and makes movies in her spare time.

After making several super8 art films, her script Monster won the third annual Hot Shot Shorts contest. The award provided sponsorship and monetary support to direct her first high-quality short film featuring an animated CGI monster.

4 comments

  1. Paulo Castro

    Interestingly ‘twisted’ script, intriguing atmosphere and, in short, impressive cinematography for a short.

  2. Ruby Johnson

    excellent film Deborah!

  3. Apple Cheeks

    Intense and interesting story! Love the design and music.

    • Monster

      thanks for the lovely feedback!

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