Interview: Dan West and Rick Popko (Monsturd)
Interview by: Horror Bob
Interview Conducted on: 4/16/2003 via E-mail.
Dan West and Rick Popko are the creators of a film called Monsturd, yeah that’s right that movie about a shit monster, they made it. I had the pleasure of interviewing both of them via e-mail, to see just what made them go all out and take the chance of making a horror movie that contained a monster made of crap.
Both these guys are great and funny as hell, their ideas are beyond funny and may even offend some people, but who cares who get’s offended it’s all in good clean (well maybe not so clean) fun.
Visit their website at: 4321films.com
Q: Where did you get the idea for “Monsturd”?
A: We were watching Citizen Kane one day and we started thinking “You know what this film is lacking? A shit monster!”. Or maybe it was “Jack Frost I’m thinking of. Actually we were spoofing a spoof. We saw “Jack Frost” and just thought, hey, no one’s done a shit monster before (this was years before Dogma). We thought we might pull a “Blood Feast” and be the first of the inevitable shit monster genre, so Rick went to work on a draft and then threw it in a drawer for about two years or so. Later I had to talk him back into resurrecting such a dumb idea.
Q: For having such a small budget, how did you manage to get the locations you did, I’ve seen films with budgets way bigger than Monsturd and the Production Value still looks fake, however I was surprised by how great the sets and locations were for Monsturd?
A: We sought our locations as we went along, doing location scouting between shooting scenes. When we found a good location, we simply asked the property owner if we could film there. We never told them the title of the movie, nor what it was about. If they asked, we simple said, “We’re student filmmakers doing a “Blair Witch”-like movie… we’re shooting it on video.” And for most people, that was just enough of an explanation. Most people we approached were very accommodating, and no one asked for any money.
If we couldn’t get permission, then we went out and stole the shot. We made a point not to skimp on production value. It’s the most important thing a film can have on that level aside from good sound. Chance favors the prepared mind and as far as finding interesting places to shoot we got very lucky. That’s also why the fucker took a year to complete, not counting re- takes and pick up shots.
Q: How did you create the Monster-turd? Special Effects wise?
A: Rick thought of the idea of using spray foam insulation. We used a mannequin to form the body and we sprayed about 20-30 cans of that crap on the thing. It was more disgusting than I could have imagined it turning out.
Q: What Kind of format did you shoot the film on and how did you get your hands on equipment to help you complete the production?
A: We shot on miniDV using a Canon GL-1 camcorder (about $2,500) and we shot probably 30 hours of footage (at $5 a tape that’s $150). We pretty much paid for everything on credit card. We set the camcorder to “frame” mode, which records a progressive image to tape. This helped us get a nice film-like look. Granted it doesn’t look exactly like film, but it doesn’t look exactly like video either. We edited Monsturd on a 500MHz Micron PC with 256MB RAM and used Pinnacle Systems’ DV500 for capture and playback to and from the hard drive (about $500). We edited with Adobe Premiere 6.0 (included with the DV500). All-in-all if you count all of our preproduction, production, and postproduction expenses (including renting a movie theater for three days for the premiere), we figure we probably shelled out about $12,000 in total.
Q: Were you surprised when the film got picked up for distribution and is now available in Video stores across the county?
A: No, that was the whole point of making it. What was surprising was that Blockbuster was the one that ended up buying 4,000 copies. Talk about ironic. The last place we thought we’d end up turned out to be the only place we got into before Dead Alive closed their doors. (Now we are signed with Elite Entertainment www.elitedisc.com for a December 2003 release. We couldn’t stop laughing about getting into Blockbuster. It just seemed too surreal.
Q: I recently saw on your website that you guys just signed a distribution deal with Elite Entertainment, In my opinion that was a great move, they got some good people over at that company, and are big supporters of my website, how does it feel to know that Monsturd has helped get you this far.
A: Well, signing with Elite was the best possible thing that could have happened to the movie. It’s certainly in good company now with the other great titles on the Elite label. It’s really an honor. We think getting into Blockbuster actually helped our situation, as it started to create buzz about our movie, which, in turn, led us to Elite.
Q: Would you guys say you’re more interested in the Horror films or comedy films and do you have any idea that you would like to turn into a film next?
A: We’re big fans of both. Our next movie is now in production and will be a sequel to Monsturd, sans the shit monster. We’re doing sort of an x-files continuation of those characters in Butte County. It also has a wonderfully tasteful title that Blockbuster won’t be touching with a ten foot pole. We aren’t even going to bother rating this one due to the relentless gore involved.
Q: How have critics reacted to “Monsturd” I for one laughed my ass off and loved the film? But has their been any backlash for making a film about killer shit.
A: Most have been surprisingly favorable. Rue Morgue Magazine gave us a fantastic review that blew me away, as did Shock Cinema and a few others. We have gotten our share of hate mail and bad reviews. Film Threat hated it. We got an email from someone who said we should be ashamed of ourselves, and said Hollywood has reached a new low. Monsturd’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. We knew that going into this. Some will hate it some will love it and so it goes. But by and large the reviews have been good, and that’s funnier than the movie could ever hope to be.
Q: Is there a chance for a Monsturd Sequel, and what’s next for 4321films?
A: As far as the shit monster coming back, it’s probably not going to happen. At this point the joke’s been done. But if we could do a funny spin on it later, who knows?
Q: On a more of Personal note for a last question what are your favorite Horror and Comedy films?
A: That’s always a hard question to answer. Among the many filmmakers that have influenced us in one way or another include; H.G. Lewis, Vincent Price, John Carpenter, George Romero, Dario Argento, John Waters, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Cheech and Chong, Monty Python, William Castle and well even Ed Wood for comic purposes, Woody Allen, Mark Pirro… But, when we think of comedy and horror together I think Carrot Top in “Chairman of the Board”, truly one of the most frightening films of the last decade.
I’d like to thank Dan West and Rick Popko for their time, and I am looking forward to their next project. Also anyone who can’t their hands on a copy of Monsturd though Blockbuster video will soon be able to buy it at your local retailers though Elite Entertainment this October. So keep a look out for it.
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