Indie Grits Festival | April 12-15 2018

Rodents of Unusual Size

Thursday, April 12 at 4:30 PM
Plays With: Station 15
Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer & Quinn Costello
San Francisco, CA | 69 min
Genre: Documentary Feature

Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are fast disappearing and one of the largest culprits are the millions of beaver-sized rodents called nutria that feast upon the vegetation. In this offbeat environmental documentary, we learn about these giant orange-toothed creatures–their history, their colorful role in Bayou culture and folklore, and the cajun bounty hunters, both men and women, who are out for their tails.

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Meet The Filmmakers

We asked our filmmakers some questions about them and their work. For further questions, join us at the designated post-screening Q+A!

Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer & Quinn Costello:

1. What is your connection to the South? 

Chris grew up in Missouri, which some label as being in the South, but really is the Midwest. Quinn grew up in Idaho and Jeff in Hawaii. With all three of us now calling California home. However, we have each been blessed with having opportunities to travel frequently in the South and it’s a place we have a deep affection for. In college each of us remember seeing various Les Blank films that portrayed these amazing communities along the Louisiana bayous that always got stuck in our imaginations.  From then we each knew we wanted to make a film there eventually. Thankfully, the nutria provided a story ripe to tell.

2. Where did you get your inspiration for this work?

Once we started getting interested in the nutria phenomena we started noticing them popping up everywhere. A new batch will pop up in Germany and then later the swamps of Vietnam while a few are seen wandering the arid Central Valley of California. One is being used to replace a groundhog to predict the weather at the New Orleans zoo and they’ve inspired a surprising number of folk songs and tribute videos. The inspiration came from the people in each of the different cultures and their unique interaction with the alien invader. We chose to focus on Louisiana because the problem is so exacerbated and the nutria has found it’s way into the culture in so many strange ways but no two places approach the nutria problem in exactly the same way. 

3. How did you start making films? 

Chris and Jeff met at film school at USC, the one in Southern California :). For Quinn, it was all about being high school and re-creating scenes from his favorite films to crack his friends up. There wasn’t much else to do in his little town in Idaho.  It started becoming a challenge of always wanting to raise the stakes and see where we could go next. Once he was hooked he couldn’t stop and now here we are. 

4. Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting? 

We shot a traditional country Mardi Gras and made sure to wear elaborate costumes to blend in. Unfortunately, in all the frenzy, we forgot to bring a mask which is a crucial part of the ensemble. At 6am we arrived at the starting point of the procession and the weather had plunged to below freezing. When the leaders of the Mardi Gras noticed our grievous error they demanded that we roll around in a puddle while they slapped mud on our faces and all over our gear. After we survived the most intense hazing of our lives we were treated to one of the most unique and wonderful experiences of the entire shoot. 

5. What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?

Indie Grits is peerless in combining film with all different aspects of the performing and visual arts. We’re looking forward to seeing them all collide in a cacophonous explosion… also barbecue!

6. Why should someone see your film?

We think this movie resonates best with those who have a taste for the offbeat. It’s part horror story, part environmental love affair and a bio-pic of a giant invasive rat. What’s not to like?