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Monster Man

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By Anne Burke

Published Jul 14, 2006 1:49 PM


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Moviegoers in France will see this poster of Gil Kenan's Monster House


Gil Kenan (MFA '02) is living a Hollywood dream. The whole thing — the big studio movie, the red-carpet interviews, the posters on the sides of MTA buses — is almost unfathomable to Kenan, who not long ago was making short films in the kitchen of his "super seedy, well-south-of-Pico" bachelor pad. When asked about his improbable career trajectory, Kenan can only blurt, "I know, it's ridiculous!"

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Kenan, 29, is the director of Monster House, the scary-funny animated movie due out from Sony Pictures on July 21. Monster House is executive produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, who hired Kenan mostly on the strength of a short, black-and-white film called Lark, which Kenan made as his thesis project in the film program at UCLA.

Monster House could easily have gone to an A-list director. But recognizing Lark as the work of a fresh talent and original thinker, Zemeckis and Spielberg were willing to go out on a limb for a 26-year-old who had never directed a feature film.

Kenan is talking to UCLA Magazine from his office on the Sony Pictures Lot in Culver City. He's leaving for New York that afternoon for a Q&A, in front of a live audience, with the New York Times critic Janet Maslin. It's the first stop in a press tour that will take Kenan from Mexico City to Singapore. Along the way, Kenan will sneak off for a belated honeymoon with his new wife, Eliza Chaikin, an art director with whom he's working on his next movie, a science fiction fantasy called City of Ember. Just a few days earlier, Monster House screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, before an enthusiastic crowd at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

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