On a recent weekday morning in the Cayman Islands, screenwriter Matthew Dressel was in between a mandatory re-test for COVID-19 and a scene featuring comedy actor Bob Saget.
“He’s America’s dad,” Dressel said. “He’s essentially the world’s dad.”
Saget, who starred in “Full House,” is among the names attached to “Blue Iguana,” a feature-length comedy by Dressel that is currently in production in the Caribbean.
Dressel has been embedded with the cast and crew since Feb. 23, when they each individually holed up in rooms at a resort for two weeks of quarantine. On March 10, Dressel, who lives in Duluth, posted a beach selfie with the words “I’m free!” to his Facebook page.
Dressel wrote the script for the then-titled “Killing Daniel” in 2011. Back then it was a dark comedy about rich sociopaths with eyes on a family inheritance. Everyone must gather at the family cabin in the woods. A decade later, the bones are the same — but the cabin is now a lux mansion in the Cayman Islands.
Meanwhile, he has been rewriting on the fly, a process that included a recent deep-dive into the titular reptile.
“What was originally a possum (became) an iguana,” said Dressel. “An axe became a machete. Trees became coconut trees.”
Dressel has been deeply involved in the local film community. He started the Duluth Film Collective and, while working at Zinema 2, curated eclectic picks for screening. In 2017, he won the FilmNorth Screenwriting Residency, a $10,000 prize, with his script “The Other Man.”
His short “Just Coffee” played at Free Range Film Festival, and he is behind the series “The Pilot is Dead” — which considers television shows that didn’t last long.
According to Deadline.com, which covers the film industry, “Blue Iguana” is the first of a few films that will be made in succession in the pandemic-lite Cayman Islands — a production deal between Productivity Media and Darius Films. The director is Jeremy LaLonde (James vs. His Future Self).
Also in the cast: Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”), Joel David Moore (“Avatar”) Jason Jones (“The Flight Attendant”), and Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Deadline.com reports.
Dressel has stayed busy on set, with 12-hour shoots that can extend into the early morning. He has been working on behind-the-scenes footage and is expecting to do actor interviews.
“Honestly, it’s just absolutely surreal,” he said. “It’s surreal to have your film made and see it come together. I get to see all the stuff I wrote come to life. This is an experience most writers don’t get to have.”