From DIY to Disney: The Journey of Gareth Edwards

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By Zac Markley and Tess Marshall

Gareth Edwards is living every filmmaker’s dream. He has directed several successful films and is preparing to debut his next film, Star Wars: Rogue One, in December 2016.

How exactly did Gareth find himself in such an exciting position? His story can inspire new filmmakers that would like to emulate his path.

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Edwards got his start in the entertainment business by working as a special effects artist on various shows in the UK and Nova for PBS in the United States.

The most important thing you need to know about Gareth Edwards: He was a one-man filmmaking machine.

Edwards’ was becoming restless as a visual effects artist. His dream was to direct movies. He developed the idea of Monsters when on vacation in the tropics.

In an interview with Empire Magazine, Gareth shares that while watching a group of fisherman pull out their nets for the day, he had a daydream. He visualized them pulling out dead sea monsters. With knowledge of computer animation, he realized his daydream could become reality. It was the kick he needed to get him on his filmmaking journey.

He wrote, directed, and created the special effects for Monsters. He shot the film in several Central American countries with only seven crew members. The budget was under $500,000. Vertigo Films produced the film. The shoot was classic guerilla filmmaking. Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able were the main talent. Locals were used as extras, and the crew didn’t have filming permits for most locations. Post production was completed in Gareth’s small apartment.

Monsters premiered at SXSW in March 2010 and was bought by Magnet Releasing. The film was a tremendous success, making $4.2 million from a $500,000 budget. Through the exposure that Monsters received, the film became Gareth’s calling card to Hollywood.

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Gareth met with several Hollywood elite during his Monsters festival run. Through that experience, he appeared on Legendary Pictures’ radar, landing him the colossal gig of directing the new Godzilla film. His next picture is Star Wars: Rogue One. It’s the first film in the franchise’s anthology series.

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Edwards had the passion, the drive and the desire to make something great with limited resources while retaining his vision. He utilized the tools he had at his disposal to paint a visual world to the best of his abilities.

No matter what skill set you have, you too can recognize your strengths like Edwards, and use them to enhance your film. It’s an encouraging lesson and if Gareth can do it – SO CAN YOU.

Here is a video of Gareth Edwards talking about the making of Monsters. Enjoy!

 

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