The filming of ‘Monkey Man’ was an ‘absolute catastrophe’

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Dev Patel’s directorial debut, “Monkey Man,” was a smash hit after premiering at SXSW, with many praising the crowd-pleasing martial arts film as a piece of action spectacle on par with “John Wick.” ” and “The Raid.” But as the film continues to rack up rave reviews ahead of its April 5 theatrical release, Patel wants fans to know that the road to completing it was grueling.

In a recent Reddit AMAPatel shared details about the logistically complicated shoot in Indonesia and how the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to derail the entire project.

“I begged our financier not to shut us down a few weeks before principal photography,” Patel wrote. “We were meant to shoot in India, but COVID hit. I lost my initial production designer and (director of photography) and the film was basically dead, then we pivoted and went to a small island in Indonesia where we were able to create a bubble in an empty hotel for the entire crew of almost 500 people. “It was an exhausting nine months of absolute joy and total chaos.”

Luc Besson on stage during a master class at the 17th Rome Film Festival at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 15, 2022 in Rome, Italy
love lies bleeding

He went on to explain that restrictions on international travel and an increasingly tight budget forced him to work with fewer resources than he anticipated. The limitations resulted in Patel creating his own improvised technology and shoehorning team members into acting roles.

“At every location we prepared for months, we lost the day, so we had to adapt at the last minute,” he wrote. “The borders were also closed, so I couldn’t bring in many supporting characters. I ended up having to put all the tailors, lighting, accountants, etc. in front of the camera. Speaking of cameras, most of our equipment broke and we couldn’t fly with new stuff, so we literally filmed things with my cell phone, come on pros: when a crane broke, we ended up creating this camera rig out of rope which I called a ‘pendulum cam,’ which swings over a large crowd of people, then breaks off and the operators run through the crowd while it was rolling.”

While Patel expressed relief that the finished product turned out so well, he hasn’t lost sight of how brutal the process was.

“The most demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said of the film. “Every day we face an absolute catastrophe.”

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