Filmmaker Michael Mongillo, whose credits include the youth psychothriller THE WIND, the sci-fi comedy WELCOME TO EARTH and the showbiz mockumentary BEING MICHAEL MADSEN, gave Fango the scoop on his first venture into full-fledged horror, THE LOST GIRL. Currently in preproduction, the movie focuses on Rurik, one of a clan of ancient shapeshifting beings, his love for a contemporary woman and the battle they must fight against his angry brethren. “In many ways, THE LOST GIRL is like all of my past genre work, in the sense that it explores friendship, loyalty and larger societal thematics, which here are racism and prejudice,” Mongillo tells Fango. “As before, I don’t offer any easy answers or solutions, or judgments. I don’t want to preach; I want my audience to explore these concerns with me as I tell the story and thereby draw their own conclusions.”
Mongillo first wrote THE LOST GIRL as a spec script for another production outfit that didn’t wind up producing it. “That company wanted something bloodier than THE WIND, so I said, ‘Fine—you want bloody, you’ve got it,’ ” Mongillo recalls. “I set out to write the goriest movie of all time, and I may come close in the filming. We shall see. But the final ingredients in shaping the story came from watching a great documentary on werewolves. I learned two very cool things from that: One, that werewolves are actually a part of history, not just legend and folklore. Greek ‘Father of History’ Herodotus cites a Scythian clan of shapeshifting wizards, the Neuri, and this has long been associated with werewolf lore. But no one I know of ever took it further than that. So I imagined, what if this clan was forced to become nomadic due to persecution and fear from outsiders, and where would they be and what would their culture be like now, in the modern world?
“Basing THE LOST GIRL in history as well as legend was very exciting to explore as a filmmaker, and it’s those kind of details that add to the reality of the story,” he continues. “That’s what’s interesting to me: exploring real people in fantastic situations. The other thing I learned from this documentary is that the screenwriter of the classic THE WOLF MAN did not base his script on legend or folklore, but made most of it up, most notably the transformation resulting from a full moon and the bitten becoming cursed themselves. That was like flipping a switch for me. I was like, if this guy can invent it all, why should I adhere to the rules that he more or less created—a set of rules that, oddly, almost every werewolf movie blindly follows?
“I guess I set out to do nothing short of rewrite the lycanthropy genre. In doing this, I don’t really want the idea of werewolves even associated with this picture. The term is never used in the movie, and the character design, ultimately, will not even call to mind anything past or present in the subgenre. Herodotus’ ‘shapeshifter’ can be anything, and I want it to be something other than the same old werewolf look.”
The rough design for the creatures were created for a LOST GIRL tie-in comic by artist Rob Ten Pas, who will illustrate the book and whose concepts “will more than likely spill over into the movie.” Mongillo is also developing his previous comic, THE PHILISTINE, as a feature even as he’s busy with casting for LOST GIRL. Jason Alan Smith from WELCOME TO EARTH and BEING MICHAEL MADSEN, as well as the previous lycanthropicture BIG BAD WOLF, will play Rurik’s nemesis, and the filmmaker is in talks with Norman (BLADE II) Reedus to play the hero; he hopes to work with Madsen again on the project as well. THE LOST GIRL doesn’t have a web presence as of yet, but you can find out more about Mongillo and his work at the official website of his Mean Time Productions.