We recently couldn’t stop gushing abut how charmingly bizarre LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER was in a recent review. It tells the story of a cartoonish sea captain, Seafield, who is on a quest of revenge against the unknown horror that lurks beneath the placid surface of Lake Michigan. What unfolds is a drunken fever dream unlike literally anything else we have ever seen. Here to explain the wackiness in an appropriately obtuse and evasive way is writer, director, actor & human distillery Ryland Brickson Cole Tews.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER has been compared to the works of Stephen Hillenburg, John Waters and Guy Maddin. It’s safe to say that viewers are having trouble putting the film neatly into a single category. What genre do you think the film belongs in, and why?
In its purest form, Lake Michigan Monster is a comedy. One, because it has some funny moments. And two, because its very existence is laughable.
Was filming the project in black and white a stylistic decision from the very beginning?
Yes. Black and white transports you to movie world, opposed to groovy world, which is what I call “color tv”. Also, I’m a sea captain, not a billionaire.
The filming locations end up being something of a running gag in the film. Can you tell us more about some of the places you shot at?
All of the locations you see in the picture were either willing or unwilling to have us. But you know, Rue, fortune favors the bold.
Which role was more difficult for you, being a writer, director or actor? Which was most rewarding?
Most difficult was director because if I didn’t bring passionfruit La Croix to set my friends wouldn’t perform. Most rewarding was actor because I knew if I did well, there would be a passionfruit La Croix waiting for me in the sand.
How does the idea for filming LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER even start? What was the inciting incident for the project?
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?”
As a film school graduate I was personally blown away by the level of expertise in some of the special effects and filming techniques. What’s your favorite effect?
The push-in. Nothing says melodrama like the push-in. It’s the best technique in the world. I was also pleased with how well the Sonar 2000 worked. A practical build from Wayne (Ashcroft) combined with visual effects from Mike Cheslik.
Captain Seafield seems like a pretty on-the-nose amalgamation of every drunken sea captain in cinema. Were you channeling any one in particular in your portrayal of him?
If Orson Welles, Daniel Plainview, and DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby had a love child with a renowned Charlatan, you’d be left with Captain Seafield.
What comedy inspirations did you apply to LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER? What horror inspirations, if any?
I suppose subconsciously we were doing Monty Python and Evil Dead II. We also wanted to keep a spooky atmosphere throughout. And this concept of spookiness is, of course, influenced by the pagan holiday, “Halloween”.
What was the most difficult scene to film, and why?
The underwater scene was extremely difficult to shoot for any extended amount of time. The crew and I had to constantly go up for air.
Can we have Martha’s fish stick recipe?
Gorton’s Fish Sticks. You’ll want to get yourself two value pack bags. That’s 88 fish sticks.
As always, what future projects can we look forward to from you?
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.