Monsters II – Dark Continent Shoots in Detroit

May 2013
by Carrie LeZotte

It may be a surprise that three of my favorite things to see in a movie are guns, monsters and cute boys, but for true escapism, that’s my golden trifecta.  So that’s one of the reasons I agreed to sign on as the production manager for the Detroit portion of Monsters II: Dark Continent.  The other reason was I knew from my recently shooting in Europe* how critical local support is to a good production experience.

This is not work typical for One of Us Films, but it was also only going to be a four-day shoot, and while a PM would have been easy to find when the film incentive was hot, many key movie jobs have since transitioned elsewhere, so I knew it would be hard to find someone for such a short show.

While the film is a sequel to the successful indie Monsters, the only thing making it to II is are the Aliens.  The film is about boys from Detroit who go off to battle Aliens (awesome, right?)  The cute boy cast we hosted included Joe Dempsie, Sam Keeley, Parker Sawyers and Kyle Soller.  The feature debut for Tom “keep rolling” Green, he was supported by DP Christopher Ross, who has shot all kinds of work we never hear of on this side of the pond and producer Ben Pugh.

Of course they came to Detroit for the spectacular ruin porn that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.  Since my other work has been so committed to challenging those perceptions, I thought it was good for me to see my city through the eyes of foreigners.  Cinematically, I totally get what they came for.  They fell in love with the Packard Plant, where you can point the camera in any direction and the texture, depth and decay that would take an art department weeks to create and tens of thousands of dollars.   As much as I think I know Detroit, I had never been to the Delray neighborhood and the location for the alien vs. dog fight, was my personal favorite.  The owner had also supplied the spectacular picture car, a blue Firebird, and surrounded the fight area with autos in various stages of disrepair.

One of the things that caught the eye of DP Ross was the red fire hydrant that sits outside the One of Us Films office.  He actually stopped and took an Instagram photo of it, saying it was “iconically American.”   He also commented on the flat bottoms of Michigan’s puffy white clouds.

I can say I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together, especially since they’ll be spending months adding special alien effects, led by the cheeky Sebastian Barker.