Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Monster tells the harrowing tale of Richard, Mary and Andrew – a family of three. On the outside, Mary and Richard appear normal and their son, a deformed hulk of a monster rarely seen. Look closer though and see the true monsters as controlling Richard bullies his family into living the life he wants.
Directed by: Matt Shaw
Written By: Matt Shaw & Michael Bray
Script Consultant: Shaun Hutson
Produced By: Matt Shaw, Justin Hayward, Justin Park
Edited by: Chris Collier
Cinematographer: David Dearlove
Composer: Brian Delaney
Runtime: 77 minutes
Q&A with Director Matt Shaw
You are the author of over 250 stories on Amazon, why choose MONSTER as your directorial debut?
Originally Mik (Bray) and I were looking at adapting our story ART but there are so many locations and characters in that, it would have cost a fortune. I went back to Mik and suggested MONSTER because it’s a lot smaller in scale but still has a truly horrific story which would appeal to the horror fans out there. Looking back, now the film is done, I am also glad we started on a smaller schedule because this project was a massive eye-opener for me. We shot the thing in 9 days – usually 18 hour days – and it was brutal. I’ve never felt so rough in my entire life.
So it wasn’t all fun and games on the set then?
I was ill and the assistant director (Justin Park) was just getting over an illness but, we had a good laugh on set. Everyone kept each others’ spirits high by larking around and I feel as though I was fairly relaxed as a director – so long as people were pulling their weight, I didn’t mind them having a laugh. The simple rule was, when we are working – we are working. Between takes though – anything goes. Hell, one night Laura Ellen Wilson and Tracy Shaw were on the living room floor singing along to a rather rude YouTube song. We got videos of it but I was asked not to post it so… I shall refrain. Still makes me laugh when I watch it though. Also, during the shoot, I would pull aside one of the actors and tell them to do something new without warning anyone else… All just to make the others cringe or laugh.
MONSTER has been received well in both book form and film form now. Which is your favourite?
The film. I like the book – obviously I’m going to say that because I helped co-write it after pitching Mik the idea – but I have always wanted to make films since I was a young lad so, for me, this is a milestone in my life. Took 37 years but I finally got there (with thanks to the strong team around me).
And is the film true to the book?
At core they’re the same story but – there are big differences between the book and the film. Originally I would have wanted to make them the same but – looking back – I actually like that there are differences as it gives fans of the book something new to enjoy too. The trick is to do that with future adaptations too but not change them so much that you actually put the readers off from the film (and vice versa with the viewers picking up the book for the first time).
Future adaptations? So it is fair to say you have the film bug now then?
I’ve always had it. I’ve wanted to write, direct and act from a young age. At the moment I am happy writing and directing, over acting, but I might start doing a Tarantino and throwing myself a little cameo in here and there – just for a laugh. With regards to future adaptations though – yes is the simple answer. I am working hard on a short film anthology titled NEXT DOOR. It’s an ambitious project with Vas Blackwood, Jessica-Jane Stafford, Jan Anderson, Jeremy Edwards, Danielle Harold and more involved… Short films all interlinked. Think along the lines of PULP FICTION meets TALES FROM THE CRYPT and you’ll be close. Whilst the story doesn’t exist in book form, some of the shorts within the film are based on my short story range called “F*cked Up Shorts” so, again, if you’re a fan of my written work, you should enjoy these. In the new year I am also looking to shoot a fan film of Nightmare On Elm Street too. I wrote a fan-fiction piece called UP ALL NIGHT and I am dying to get it translated to screen. I’ve got the crew together and half of the film cast – so I’ll be looking to finish that up before the new year – ready to jump into it in 2019. Failing that, I’m also doing a series of two minute films for YouTube, just for fun and so I can continue learning more of the filmmaking process and then I’m looking to adapt my book BIRD into a feature too. With regards to the latter though, so many people have told me NOT to do it because it’s pretty sick but… I think it’s funny so why the hell not?! Let’s just say it involves puppets and mental illness.
MONSTER won Best Feature at the ‘Dead All Day’ Film Festival this year. How did that feel?
Peter Mckeirnon runs the festival and I’ve known him for a couple of years now. He writes books and makes films too. I offered him MONSTER to screen and he snapped it up, which was nice. Winning the award was a great feeling because it’s always nice to be recognised for something, isn’t it? What I find funny is – I made one film and won an award, I’ve written so many books and only get nominated… How’s that work? Still, I’m not complaining! What made the award feel good was that it was voted for by the audience members. I won a framed certificate and a gold statue of a duck holding a knife (based on The Quacky Slasher film by Mckeirnon). It sounds dumb but I love that little duck. I remember when I won the award, Laura Wilson asked if I wanted to take it home. Cheeky bitch… I think she wanted to snatch it away for herself. No, Laura, go get your own duck! This one is mine! Although, technically, it’s a team award because I couldn’t have done it without everyone else standing with me and believing in the project. That being said, the duck is staying in my house. I’m selfish like that.
Shaun Hutson was a script consultant on MONSTER. How did that happen?
I met Shaun at a convention in Sheffield. I was minding my own business when this guy comes up and says, ‘Matt Shaw?’ to which I said I was. He then introduced himself as Shaun Hutson. I nearly shit. I’ve known his work since I was a young lad and to have him walk up and say hello – well, I wasn’t expecting that. Shaun and I spoke online since and I even asked him to do some blurbs for my books after we did a book swap at the con, to which he kind agreed. From there, I worked with him on my anthology MASTERS OF HORROR, asking him to write a story (for a fee of course) and – whilst I had him there – I asked if he fancied having a read of MONSTER and giving some ideas for the script. He went through it and sent me a list of notes which Mik and I actioned. For him to give his time for the script like that was really generous of him and I’ll forever be grateful. The guy is a true gent.
Finally – if you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to make their first film – what would it be?
One piece? Have a few pieces, because I am generous like that:
Only start it if you’re truly passionate for it because it is extremely hard work.
Over-budget for things so nothing catches you by surprise.
When doing the shooting schedule, allow yourself extra time!
MONSTER is available to rent or purchase through Amazon Prime now