AFTER a rough few years, Dev Patel’s directorial debut Monkey Man is set to release soon, with him also starring as the lead in the action film. In a recent media question and answer discussion, Dev spoke at length about the difficulties he and the crew encountered, which he claims is the most demanding project he has done.

The film initially began development back in 2018, with filming planned to take place in 2020. Several weeks before principal photography began in India, Dev says the financier wanted to shut down the film.

Right afterwards, the Covid-19 pandemic kicked off and the film lost its production designer and cinematographer, effectively killing the film.

“We pivoted and went to a tiny island in Indonesia where we could create a bubble in an empty hotel for the whole crew of nearly 500 people,” he says, calling the next nine months gruelling.

$!Dev (centre) also co-wrote and co-produced Monkey Man.

Due to the borders being closed, they could not bring in actors for supporting roles, which forced Dev to put “every tailor, lighting guy and accountant in front of the camera”.

The crew was apparently forced to keep stepping up their improvisational filmmaking, especially when their equipment began breaking and new equipment could not be flown in.

“We literally shot stuff on (mobile phone and GoPros). When a crane broke, (we created) a camera rig from rope which I termed ‘the pendulum cam’. It would swing over a large crowd of people, detach and the operators run through the crowd while it was rolling”.

The film reportedly concluded its filming in 2022. After Netflix acquired the film’s rights, it sat on the shelf until Jordan Peele acquired the rights to distribute the film through Universal Pictures.

Monkey Man hits cinemas tomorrow.

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