Clement Bolla, FX Goby, Matthieu Landour
Synopsis: A monster terrorizes a town and induces collective hysteria with hilarious results.
Where did the idea for The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb come from?
It was an idea I had for my graduation film. I had two friends, Clement and Matthieu, who I studied film with and we had to propose a short film. I wanted to do this story of a man stuck in a monster’s costume and the frenzy he triggers around him, with everyone mistaking him for a terrible creature. Originally, I wanted to do that as an animated film. I didn’t get to do this film. I did another that was more suited to animation. But I still wanted to develop this idea. We all love B movies. We have this love for films that were made on a little budget but with a lot of heart. So that’s how it started.
Where did the monster suit come from?
The monster had to look amazing, yet cheaply done. That was the challenge for us: to have a good monster that people would love to watch but which would not be mistaken for a real monster. We contacted several companies and we were lucky enough to find this company based in the UK. They were in the middle of this massive-scale production but they agreed to do our monster costume in a very limited time. So we designed it and they made the magic after that.
They made the monster suit for you?
Yes, we gave them references, such as old monster costumes like the one in The Creature From The Black Lagoon. And they made the magic happen in five weeks, an incredibly limited time for such a massive piece. It is 8 feet high, heavy, and massive. We were very happy.
Where is the monster suit now?
It’s at the location. We shot in Brittany. One of the producers is a local there. So he provided a big house where we shot the film and as a gift we left the costume there. So it’s there welcoming people on a big stand. It has another life now.
(Laughter) What’s it like working with two other directors, thus making it three directors involved in the film?
It’s very easy when they are good friends like them. Originally, it was just a stupid idea that turned into a film. Matthieu directed my graduation film and Clement also happens to be a friend I’ve known for years. We spent our childhood together from when we were all 10 to 18 years old. When I talked to them about this idea, it was obvious we wanted to do it together, not only with my oldest friend but also with the guy I did a lot of films with. It was extremely easy. On the shoot, we’re just three times more efficient. We can cover more things. It was great, very effortless.
What films inspired the movie?
Obviously, Roger Corman’s cinematography was a big influence. That’s the first thing we talked about. The one that really triggered it was The Black Lagoon. It’s such a great film and it had all the ingredients that we want in a film. We have other influences like my favorite film, Edward Scissorhands. I think it’s a beautiful story and it talks about lots of different things. I think its structure influenced us a lot in our movie. Also one of the main films visually that influenced us is Christine, made by John Carpenter.
Why is the film set in the 1950’s?
That’s a good question. The B movies’ golden age was at this time. Today, people are too used to seeing incredibly made monsters that are extremely believable in films. Whereas back in that time, people would find even a less sophisticated monster believable. It didn’t make sense to do it in the present because people would not find it that credible to believe in such a big monster.
Could you imagine doing a feature film on something along this style now?
What do you mean by this style?
What you’re doing, like a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s.
Oh yeah. Actually, not as a short film. I wouldn’t do that again soon because it was a nightmare. (Laughter) Just setting things in a different period is really complicated because you need to be super accurate in everything like the hair, the clothes, the objects, the cars, everything. It’s extremely complicated. We did everything wrong with our film in this sense. We had too many sets and a massive costume. I think if we had to do it again, we might do it a bit differently because it was extremely hard to get the result. It was a long process. For a feature film, yeah, probably. We don’t want to be stuck in a box because of the story we’re telling.
How long was the shoot? How many days did it take?
The shoot was only at night for five days. We were limited between when the sun was down and when the sun was rising. We didn’t have any extra days in case we missed. So we used every hour and every minute that we had to make the film.
The film was shot in Brittany but the credits say English-France production. Or is it a French production?
It is French-English. It’s complicated, and it’s very…
Because of the monster suit?
No. It’s because we live in London, England. Here we do animated films and videos, and commercials, lots of different things. What happened is that we worked with a production company here in the UK and they did all the post-production. We come from special effects. There was a lot of post-planning. We did the entire sound from scratch because we wanted to have this certain approach to the sound. It’s a bit staged, so we dubbed everything. That was a big job.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to do their first short film?
Don’t give up on your ambition. We knew what we wanted. You will always find a way to make it happen. You may have to compromise a little bit but compromise is different from giving up.
Click here to download these stills at 300dpi.
Click here to return to the Finalists page