TIFF UNCUT: Talking Rats with Morgan Spurlock and Jeremy Chilnick
They’re even more terrifying than you can imagine
In the TIFF 16 film Rats, you’ll see more dead rodents than you ever thought possible. The gory horrifying documentary is directed by Morgan Spurlock, best known for his 2004 hit Super Size Me (in which he ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days) and subsequent docs Where In The World is Osama Bin Laden and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. (Not to mention the excellent One Direction movie!) Traveling between Mumbai, the United Kingdom and the mean streets of New York City, a terrifying saga of rats all over the world (and the people who study and kill them) is revealed.
In the TIFF podcast studio, we talked to Spurlock and his co-writer/producing partner Jeremy Chilnick (who also helped produce and release the TIFF 16 doc The Eagle Huntress) about their greatest rat horror stories, the legacy of Super Size Me and why movies like Rats and Ratatouille are changing the way people perceive these creatures in cinema.
1. Morgan Spurlock wanted to become a filmmaker when he saw David Cronenberg's Scanners at age 10
Morgan Spurlock: “Little me was 10 years old in Beckley, West Virginia, watching the movie Scanners on a big screen and Michael Ironside makes that guy’s head explode. Which changed my life forever because that was the moment that made me want to make movies.”
2. New York City has one of the scariest rat-related moments in the film
Morgan Spurlock: “There’s one scene where we’re coming down… it’s not far from our office. It’s just a little south of Canal Street. We’re coming up to this corner, there’s a lot of restaurants around, they throw out a lot of trash. And there were just so many fucking rats.”
3. Making a movie about rats gives you the most haunting dreams
Morgan Spurlock: “I had a lot of weird dreams while we were making this film. Jeremy still does.”
Jeremy Chilnick: “I do, it’s a recurring dream. I’m walking down into a subway station, and I keep stepping on rats. It’s never like a nightmare, it’s just recurring. It just exists. And then I wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh, that was my rat dream again’… I have proper PTSD from the edit.”
4. Morgan still gets Super Size Me-related questions all the time
Morgan Spurlock: “It’s just one of those things where… it had such an impact on people. And so people just want — there was a guy yesterday, he was like, ‘I just got to ask you a question! When was the last time you went to a McDonald's?’ I was like, ‘It’s been a long time.’ And he’s like, ‘But when was it? When was it?’ And I’m like, ‘March 2nd, 2003.’ And he’s like, ‘No way! Man! Alright, see you later.’ That was just right down the street, the other day here at TIFF. But every day, someone on the street will ask something about it.”
5. Morgan Spurlock loves the film Ratatouille
Morgan Spurlock: “We have a big poster of Ratatouille in our office! When I met Brad Bird — because I am a big Brad Bird fan — I was like, ‘Can I get a Ratatouille poster?’ And he was like, ‘Of course you can.’ So it’s hung in a place of honour in our office… I love that film.”