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An Interview with Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Director and Star of Lake Michigan Monster

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2020

Ryland Brickson Cole Tews on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Lake Michigan Monster - in a few words, what is it about?

 

In its purest form, Lake Michigan Monster is a comedy. One, because it has some funny moments. And two, because its very existence is laughable.

 

You wrote the story of Lake Michigan Monster together with Michael Cheslik (who also produced), so what can you tell us about him, and about your collaboration while dreaming up the thing?

 

We call him Magic Mike due to his editing and visual effects wizardy, but more so because of his flair on a stripper pole. Without Magic Mike, the film would have been far more inferior than it already is.

 

With Lake Michigan Monster being a monster movie, is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?

 

I enjoy old monster movies but I wouldnít say the genre is dear to me. Godzilla vs. Hedorah is wonderfully bizarre. But the scariest monster movie for me is Signs. The scene at the Brazilian kidís birthday party when we first see the alien in broad daylight is incredibly shocking. As a viewer you react exactly the way Cousin Merrill does. That movie had a big impact on me as a swarthy young dockhand.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Lake Michigan Monster?

 

Oh you know ó Guy Maddin, Monty Python, The ĎBurbs, early Sam Raimi, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Yentl. But the idea for the picture came one rainy afternoon whilst sitting on Wine Rock along the shores of Lake Michigan listening to pirate metal with Erick West (Sean Shaughnessy). We were smoking Djarum Black Clove cigarettes and drinking $3 sweet red wine when I turned to my companion and said, ďWhat if a mermaid washed up on shore and we were the only ones around to see it?Ē

 

Do talk about Lake Michigan Monster's brand of humour for a bit?

 

Iíve always preferred humor that is inherently funny. No psycho-analyzing why itís funny or why you should be laughing. Itís just funny. So while writing Lake Michigan Monster I was probably subconsciously influenced by Monty Python the most. Just wonderfully silly things.

 

You also have to talk about the wonderful titular monster of course, how was it achieved, and how much say did you have in its design?

 

Joe Castro [Joe Castro interview - click here], Erick West, and Mike Cheslik had a threeway with that monster. Joe provided the suit/makeup, Erick provided its limbic system, and Mike was in charge of visual effects. It was a look that Mike and I came up with at pole dancing practice.

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Keep the camera moving. Keep the characters moving. Keep the imagery coming. Keep the comedy coming. Keep the booze flowing. Keep the pace up. And end every scene with a question mark. My God, what will happen next!?

 

You also play the lead in Lake Michigan Monster - so what can you tell us about your character, and have you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

I have always been drawn to the charlatan. Lionel Hutz, Lyle Lanley, Gilderoy Lockhart, Charles Ponzi; these are my heroes. I donít expect audiences to fully relate or trust Seafield. If they did, his bizarre existence would cease to be a mystery. Much like Mothman. And yes, I always saw myself playing Seafield. It gave me an excuse to portray the love child of Orson Welles, Daniel Plainview, and DiCaprioís Jay Gatsby.

 

Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Why? Because they were free! You see, the trick to making a movie on the cheap is to round up a bunch of suckers who will never see a dime. If you can do that, you too can make a spooky seafaring comedy about monsters and drinking.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

There were obviously some long, hard days considering that the cast was the crew and the crew was the cast and I was often face down in the sand. But for the most part, my crew mates and I had a blast working on the picture. We were all on crazy Captain Rylandís movie voyage together, hellbent on slaying our own Moby Dick: the feature film.

 

The $64 question of course, where can your movie be seen?

 

Take heed, landlubbers! The Lake Michigan Monster is now terrorizing the Apple TV appís Arrow Video Channel and swallowing up the great galleons, YouTube and Google Play! Grab some brews, grab some buds, and prepare yourselves for an evening of Milwaukee monster movie mayhem!

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Lake Michigan Monster?

 

I would say watch late at night with beer in hand and friends on couch. This is an audience movie. People of all ages, creeds, and nations have enjoyed this film, particularly in darkened rooms with booze flowing and pickled eggs within arms reach.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

The new picture is a supernatural, no dialogue, physical comedy set during the height of Americaís fur trade. The name of the movie is Hundreds of Beavers.

 

What got you into the filmworld in the first place?

 

I was sailing a schooner of spices from Puerto Rico to the Florida Keys through the eye of the Bermuda Triangle when a storm kicked up and transported me through time from the roaring 1720ís into present day Filmworld.

 

When it comes to filmmaking, you've filled many positions on both sides of the camera - so what do you enjoy the most, what could you do without?

 

Most difficult was director because if I didnít bring passionfruit La Croix sparkling water to set my friends wouldnít perform. So I made sure to always have two packs of La Croix at the ready before we shot that day. The most rewarding position was actor because I knew if I nailed a scene there would be a passionfruit La Croix waiting for me in the sand.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Lake Michigan Monster, in whatever position?

 

Wrote, directed, acted in many a short. But one day I said, no more shorts! Men are remembered by the features they make!

 

Filmmakers, writers, actors who inspire you?

 

Japanese filmmakers inspire with their tireless work ethic. Guillermo del Toro with his imagination. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell because they grew up in Michigan and also made crazy small budget movies. And of course Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan ó writers, directors, actors, ATHLETES.

 

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Your favourite movies?

 

Itís a Wonderful Life, Cannibal Holocaust.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

That CGI nightmare, Ready Player One. REMEMBER THE 80ís!!!!????

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

People can find me.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nah.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD