/News 22.02.21


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its shortlists for the 2021 Oscars in nine categories earlier this month, including for Best VFX. Paramount’s Love and Monsters, with VFX from MR. X, was amongst the 10 shortlisted films.

Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) stars in this wildly imaginative, post-apocalyptic adventure that’s filled with Love and Monsters. Seven years after the Monsterpocalypse, Joel Dawson (O’Brien), along with the rest of humanity, has been living underground ever since giant creatures took control of the land. After reconnecting over radio with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who is now 80 miles away at a coastal colony, Joel begins to fall for her again. As Joel realizes that there’s nothing left for him underground, he decides to venture out to Aimee, despite all the dangerous monsters that stand in his way.

MR. X (then Mill Film) partnered with the production on set in Australia in 2019 through to the post-production to realize director Michael Matthews’ post-apocalyptic vision. Working closely with Overall VFX Supervisor Matt Sloan, the MR. X team delivered 463 shots.

We chatted with the film’s Animation Supervisor, Matt Everitt, to get the inside scoop on this monster-filled film.

What are some stand out moments from the project?

The initial meeting with Matt Sloan in which we discussed the initial concepts for the monsters was great…

For example, “We have a creature that is 15 meters in length, blind and rises from its hiding place beneath the earth, it feels its way around the world through its 7-meter-long face tentacles, has hundreds of legs and moves like a snake.” That immediately evokes lots of ideas and questions and we couldn’t wait to get started in development.

Matt has a genuine love of classic monster movies and was very open and inclusive, always looking for opportunities to test ideas and help the show feel interesting and original.

What were the main areas of work?

There was a broad scope of work that we needed to hit:

Several highly individual creatures, some with lots of soft tissue and muscle, some with multiple legs, tentacles, large claws and highly complex performance needs.

Lots of blood, slime, goo, dust, sand and debris to interact with. Plus, environment work which grew as we progressed through the show.

The performance goal was to create creatures with a sense of character, identity and individuality, born from their environment and circumstance. Our search for reference always took us back to the real world as its starting point before incorporating behaviors and acting choices to heighten the moment.

We wanted the feeling of a classic monster movie, but one that is grounded in the reality of our hero, Joel.

“Being on location in Queensland is always a joy. It is so versatile for what it can provide in terms of location and the crew are fabulous to work with”.

Matt Everitt, Animation Supervisor, Love and Monsters
Love and Monsters
Dylan O’Brien in Love & Monsters. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

What was the most challenging shot/sequence?

The final creature that Joel encounters is the mighty HELLCRAB. We wanted this monstrous crustacean to have weight and power, while adding details such as hanging seaweed and barnacles to help sell the sense of scale. We used heavy machinery on the beach set to destroy real world props before integrating our CG crab, extra props and sand.

Making sure the audience understood geographically where the multiple actions on the beach were taking place was also key, so we plotted in detail the progression of the fight, making sure things made sense as we continued to cut the movie.

We did have one question…

How do you give a GIANT, KILLER CRAB, intent on destroying everything around it a sense of empathy and a moment of connection with our hero?

It’s all in the eyes!

One of the first conversations we had when discussing the project was the moment when Joel realises that the Hell Crab is actually a wounded soul, in need of its freedom. It’s a moment of subtle performance; a dilation of the pupils, micro darts and contractions in the eyes showing fear and a need for connection, not anger. Finally, a moment of connection between the monster and the man.

Any fun facts to share about the project? (ex. inspiration for the monsters, set stories, etc.)

Right at the end of a shoot day we had a moment in which the large plastic duck that Joel’s faithful side kick ‘Boy’ hides beneath, is flipped over by the Siren. We set up pneumatic pumps beneath the duck to flip it on its head. Light was fading fast as the crew scrambled to set up the shot. Everybody cleared the set ready for the duck to launch in the air. 3-2-1 – Nothing! For some reason the pumps failed to fire. So, it was all hands-on deck to grab the duck and flip it as far as we could.

Animation Supervisor, Matt Everitt. Courtesy of MR. X.

Love and Monsters was filmed on location at Screen Queensland Studios, Brisbane, Mount Cotton and Southport in Queensland. The film was secured to Queensland through the State Government’s Production Attraction Strategy and Screen Queensland, with additional financing from City of Gold Coast. Ausfilm Members Cutting Edge provided editing services, and Heliguy worked on drone aerial footage. Fox Lighting supplied lighting equipment.

Check out the trailer here:

Find out more about: