Film Challenge Retrospective: Mostly Attractive Monsters

Hey Filmgoers!  Marcus here.

Welcome to the third installment of our Film Challenge Month retrospectives.  Today, or night, or whatever time you’re reading this, I’m going to talk about the 48 hour film I made in my senior year of college, Mostly Attractive Monsters

 Rats love sleeping through lectures

Rats love sleeping through lectures

I started college a year after Andrew and Eric, so they weren’t in competition at the school when this film was made.  While Eric stepped in as our charming, self-attracted hero, Andrew was sadly not involved.  You will, however, see frequent collaborators Craig Larson (Boxing with God), who wrote the film, and Rachel Palashewski (A Lutefisk Western, All Dressed in White), who starred opposite Eric.  Take a look!

Wow, wasn’t that rat cute?  Of course she was, and may Doctor Adorable rest in peace.  As for the rest of the film, let me give you a rundown of how the weekend went!  

If you’ve been reading the previous retrospectives for Film Challenge Month, you’ll know that Two Jackets’ Alma Mater, Minnesota State University Moorhead, runs it’s own elimination round for the Four Points Film Project.  While 4PFP is a 72 hour competition, MSUM has teams of undergraduate filmmakers compete against each other to make a film in 48 hours, where the winner, as chosen by faculty and guest judges, goes on to the international 4PFP competition.

On Friday night, our team was given the following requirements:

Prop: Ratchet
Line of Dialogue: “Nothing like this has ever happened before.”
Character: Luke or Lucy Ludwig, Blogger
Genre: Sci-Fi or Horror

As Eric stressed in his write up of After Hours, the school competitions put an emphasis on having the whole team participate in brainstorming.  By comparison, when Two Jackets makes a 48 today, we limit brainstorming to only Andrew, Eric, and me.  This team process is great for getting people involved, but the story ideas can get a little out of control without a leader to make the final decisions for the group.  After a few hours of excited conversation, we settled on a dark and introspective piece about seeing yourself in another timeline at the apex of sadness in your life. 

Then we handed off the concept to Craig, a stand-up comedian, and one of the funniest people I know.  We should have known then that this material might not be the best fit, and it became apparent almost immediately.

As the night ticked on, the script was always an hour away from being done.  I gathered what props we needed and sent the team home when it was getting late.  Around 3 a.m. Craig finally came out of the office he had locked himself in and handed me the script.  I won’t comment on the quality of that draft, but I will say that after Craig and I read it aloud, he destroyed the printed copies and deleted the digital file.  

We decided to go with a new take.  

Over the next few hours, Craig and I broke and wrote a new story that had the comedic tone you saw in the film above.  I got about 30 minutes of sleep that night, and learned a valuable lesson: Play to your strengths.  

It was only when we let the film become something that was uniquely Craig that it was able to succeed.  I loved the film, and so did Craig, and, though we both thought the concept was ridiculous, that love shone through.  We ended up taking the top prize in our school’s competition and moving on to the international level.  Craig was even awarded Best Writing from the school.

Mostly Attractive Monsters remains one of my favorite timed pieces, and proved a philosophy we still hold today:  If you do what you love, other people will notice, and they might end up loving it, too.  We’re still humbled and grateful at Two Jackets that people have responded to our goofy sci-fi stories!