Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn't know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat - hordes of monstrous 20 pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protects Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight. Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
Interview with R.O.U.S. Filmmakers
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
We see the story of this most unlikely invasive species as an entry-point to a unique part of the world that is rapidly changing before our eyes. We wanted to document the place at this moment of time and the nutria served as a good through-line.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
The three of us are big fans of quirky documentaries with interesting characters trying to overcome the odds. Even though this movie is about giant swamp rats (and what’s not to love about that) we hope the broader environmental themes resonate beyond the animals.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Although this particular story could only happen in Louisiana we wanted the film to be something that could resonate beyond that state. As the world seems to be growing more atomized there’s something refreshing about the grit and determination of a community that’s not going down without a fight. Hell, they’ll dance all the way down.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
We never really had a script and kept iterating different scenes and rearranging things. Eventually we had to be brave and start showing it around to various trusted colleagues to gauge their reaction to the story and characters. That collaborative creative process was crucial in shaping what would become the film.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So far the reception has been great. We were a bit surprised (given that our film features hunting so prominently) that our most successful screenings have been at environmental film festivals. People seem to be hungry for a positive story with a bit of weirdness.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We’re always curious if people feel went overboard in our depiction of hunting. So far, even though people confess to being squeamish initially, for the most part they realize it’s necessary to understanding the broader story.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We love the idea of getting the film out there beyond the usual reach of film festivals and television. Also, as the nutria problem continues to go global there are many different communities considering different approaches to dealing with the problem.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
PBS owns the initial broadcast rights but we’re on the lookout for sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists to help us get the word out to a broader audience . So much about this process has been DIY and we’ve been happy to be a part of 45 film festivals- and counting.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We hope that the film sparks curiosity and interest in this most special part of America. We also hope that it sparks interest in issues related to invasive species and the danger of nearsighted thinking when we try to bend nature to meet our desire to make a buck.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
As climate change continues to literally move populations we hope that this film spurs conversations about what makes a place worth preserving and how far should we go to hang on to places that appear to be destined to be destroyed.
Would you like to add anything else?
Nutria meat is tastier than you might expect.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We’re developing a number of projects in the environmental realm and beyond.
The film is screening as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and continues to screen at film festivals around the world throughout the year.
Interview: June 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
● Film Title - "Rodents of Unusual Size"
● Director(s) name - Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler & Jeff Springer
● Narrated by Wendell Pierce with Music by Lost Bayou Ramblers
● Running time - 71 min.
● Year of completion - 2017
● A story about giant swamp rats invading coastal Louisiana and the defiant people on the edge of the world, who are defending their communities, culture, and livelihoods from the onslaught of this curious and unexpected invasive species