Quinn Costello, editor & co-producer of the documentary, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE, share his thoughts & experiences in creating this joyful exploration of the “Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana”.
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.
Award winning non-fiction filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have traveled to many corners of the world in search of unique stories highlighting the important environmental, scientific and cultural issues of contemporary society. With the success of documentary projects as varied as PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA, THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS and EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE they have gone on to screen their work at SXSW and Tribeca along with national TV broadcasts on PBS and the Sundance Channel. Along the way they have continued to pursue other sub-cultural documentary subjects, including: rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, ganja-preneurs and evangelical Christian surfers.
The filmmakers of RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE grew up in different parts of the country, but a passion for the swamp sealed their pact. Cajun Reeboks were donned and the journey began in search of the notorious “nutria rat”. Four years after first setting sail for Louisiana they emerged from the bayou covered in mosquito bites and an unwavering love for a place at the “End of the World” that is bursting with joy.
One person’s pest is another person’s pet.
Native to South America, nuria were introduced to the Bayou to be farmed for fur production during the Great Depression. Some escaped, and with no natural predators, they out-populated the native muskrats. Their numbers were kept somewhat in check until the anti-fur movement of the 1980s wiped out the fur market.
The population soon sky-rocketed to more than 25 million, literally eating the wetlands & causing tremendous environmental destruction. The state of Louisiana instituted the Nutria Control Program, which pays $5/tail.
Righteous Furs, a collective of fashion designers, prides themselves in utilizing nutria pelts. Their motto is “Save Our Wetlands. Wear more nutria.”
Efforts to create a nutria cuisine have been less successful.