It's becoming increasingly more practical for indie filmmakers to bring the impossible into the realm of possibility, even in terms of visual effects. This has allowed low-budget productions with small or skeleton crews to make high-concept films with great production value (see Monsters). A recent short called Monster Roll fits into this categorization, but puts a bit of a twist on the formula. It has the effects, it has the style, it has that fantastical element -- except it's about sushi chefs battling gigantic sea-monsters, and the creators made Monster Roll with the hope of demonstrating its potential for a feature. Click through to check out the movie (if it doesn't put a smile of pure joy on your face, I don't know what will).
Here's what director Dan Blank had to say on the film's about page:
We’re really excited to finally release MONSTER ROLL online. This short was created as a proof-of-concept for a feature about sushi chefs fighting sea monsters. It’s a crazy idea, but one we just really wanted to see made. So, we made it.
We sorely miss the tone of those big, fun fantasy movies we grew up with–movies like Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Big Trouble in Little China. We also want to continue the tradition of more recent movies like The Host and District 9 where strong story, characters, and humor take priority over expensive VFX sequences.
If you like MONSTER ROLL and want to help it get to the next stage, please share the film with friends. Just by spreading the word, you can help prove that we’re not totally crazy in thinking this is a movie a bunch of us want to see.
I can certainly appreciate those sentiments, and I too miss the sense of both hilarity and wonder of films like those Mr. Blank mentioned. One of the things I think cinema is really about at heart is that sense of wonder, and nowadays, visual effects are a primary force in the portrayal of amazing worlds -- and one that more and more of us can use to our advantage. Dan has posted several videos on Vimeo detailing how they achieved the final product. Here's a great side-by-side demonstration of where and how VFX come into play in Monster Roll:
Monster Roll's story-reel is also posted on Vimeo. It's interesting to see because some of the film is straight out of the animated storyboards, while other shots were apparently added later in the development process (likely to add to the kinetic flow of the final cut). The interesting differences and overall close-resemblance remind me of the Looper sizzle reel we recently posted about. Check out the story-reel below:
Finally, Dan Blank has also posted an early video-matic created by some of the film's team. Used in pre-production for preliminary blocking, ironing out the action, and anticipating VFX shots, this humorous but helpful video also bears plenty of similarities to the final film. Dan notes that once a shooting location for the scene was obtained, he replaced this pre-vis of the scene with an all-CG one which represented the restaurant more closely.
Consider me sold. I'd say modern cinema could use more films like this -- plenty of giant monsters and effects to keep everyone interested (and that is a consideration these days), but with a real heart and joy to it as well. I'm not saying there aren't films with these qualities being made at all today, but I would like to see Monster Roll in a real theater as soon as possible -- preferably among a packed, cheering crowd.
Would anyone be as excited as I would be to see this made into a feature-length film, along with a full theatrical release?
Link: Monster Roll -- Website