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Dev Patel Talks About “Utter Chaos” Directorial Debut For ‘Monkey Man’

Dev Patel has opened up about the challenges he faced while making his directorial debut, ‘Monkey Man,’ describing the experience as an “absolute catastrophe.”

The British actor’s new film received a positive response when it premiered at SXSW last month, but Patel has since shared insights into the difficulties encountered during production.

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In a Reddit AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) session ahead of the film’s theatrical release this week (April 5), Patel revealed that directing, producing and acting in the film was “the most demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” as reported by Variety. He recounted how the production encountered numerous setbacks, facing “absolute catastrophe” daily.

“I begged our financier not to shut us down a few weeks before principal photography,” Patel recalled. “We were meant to shoot in India then COVID hit. I lost my initial production designer and cinematographer and the film was basically dead. Then 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. It was a gruelling nine months of absolute joy and utter chaos.”

Image Courtesy: DailyMotion

Patel elaborated on the challenges faced, explaining how last-minute changes forced the team to adapt rapidly. “All of the locations we prepped for months at – we lost day off – so we had to adapt last minute,” he explained. “The borders closed also, so I couldn’t bring in lots of supporting characters. I ended up having to put every tailor, lighting guy, accountant etc. in front of the camera.”

He also shared innovative solutions the team devised to overcome equipment failures and budget constraints. “Speaking of cameras, most of our equipment broke and we couldn’t fly in new stuff so we literally shot stuff on my mobile phone, GoPros — when a crane broke we ended [up] creating this camera rig from rope which I termed the ‘pendulum cam,’ which swings over a large crowd of people then detaches and the operators run through the crowd whilst it was rolling.”

Image Courtesy: IMDb

Despite the obstacles, Patel emphasized that each challenge provided an opportunity for innovation. “In a very long nutshell, every obstacle provided us with a new opportunity to innovate. BOOM!”

During a post-screening Q&A at SXSW, Patel revealed additional mishaps, including breaking his toes, tearing his shoulder, and getting an eye infection during filming, demonstrating the physical toll of bringing ‘Monkey Man’ to life.

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