Brian Wiebe’s short Monster Flu, reclusive germaphobe Vincent is forced to leave his house in search for his one and only friend, a pet monster called Toby. So as to not spoil anything, take a watch first then read on to find out how Monster Flu was made.
Although a vast exaggeration on reality, Monster Flu was in-part inspired by Wiebe’s mother who, whilst not living in self-imposed isolation, is quick to reach for the hand sanitizer, especially in flu season. Other inspiration came in the form of a love of French cinema and a desire to work within creative constraints:
“I wanted to make film without dialogue that was voice over driven, because sometimes, I like to work within confines or a set of rules. I wanted the voice over to be in French, because although I don’t speak the language, I find it aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, a lot of my favorite uses of voice over are found in French films, so it seemed appropriate. I also wanted to use a puppet. The idea continued to evolve through out the process – it wasn’t until shortly before the shoot began that I decided to change the ending to depict Vincent clearly operating the puppet, but that was definitely a ‘eureka!’ moment that made for what I would consider a meaningful pay off. “
Despite the logistics of working with puppets and hazmat suits, the three day, 16mm shoot went off smoothly with the crew able to maintain a fun atmosphere on set, while getting the film in the can. Post however, and the depiction of the ‘germ sequence’ took a bit longer than expected to achieve:
“I struggled and failed through a few different attempts at depicting the germs. I had shot some green screen stuff that was all abandoned. I wanted to create a sequence that paid homage to Scotty’s dream sequence in Vertigo; in which Vincent envisioned Toby falling into a germy abyss, but it just was not working. Luckily, I found Imaging a Hidden World on archive.org, and the owners of the material were willing to let me use it. It’s really an amazing piece of educational filmmaking with a lot of images that I really love, and the texture really fit within the world of Monster Flu.”
Referencing the music of Uno Lady, Philip Glass, Tangerine Dream, Air and Yann Tierson, Wiebe worked with friend and composer Nate Scheible for Monster Flu’s score, which along with Hassan Amejal’s emotive voice over and Lucas Schira’s sound design elevated the entire film to something Wiebe’s extremely proud of.