Steven R. Monroe is known best for recently directing the 2010 remake of “I Spit on Your Grave”. Steven has also directed a number of films for Syfy Channel i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Steven to ask him a few questions about his latest work as well and his past films.
Mike Gencarelli: What was the most difficult task in directing “I Spit on Your Grave” remake?
Steven R. Monroe: During the production the most difficult task was making the sure the film was dark, disturbing, raw, upsetting and bleak as it should be for the fans of the original. Then also trying to address possible new fans, trying to make sure both sides of the audience that would see this film would get what they wanted and then some. Lastly also trying to be sure I was delivering the film the producers and distributors needed and wanted. Once the film was finished and people were seeing it, the most difficult thing was dealing with people that didn’t get the film at all and probably should never have seen it in the first place and then listening to them making judgments on me personally because they were offended. I don’t care if people take issue with what I have done as a filmmaker, I’ve been at it a long time and you get thick skin, but when people make personal attacks when they know nothing about me or who I am, it can be pretty aggravating and more difficult to just brush off.
MG: Did you feel any pressure to live up to the original?
SR: Yes, absolutely. There are very passionate fans out there of the original and it was my responsibility to do everything I could to be sure they got what they were hoping for or not hoping for. The original stirred up a lot of emotion and a lot of anger, it’s a handful, but a welcome one to try and deliver something that lives up to all that. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
MG: What was your process for casting the lead of Jennifer?
SR: I just wanted someone that was not a name first and foremost. And I wanted someone with a natural beauty, a bit of naivety, a bit of strength. I wanted certain resemblance’s to Camille Keaton in our new Jennifer. As an actress she needed to be fearless and to understand the magnitude of what we were doing and be able to handle what would come at her down the road. Sarah Butler had all of those. She was perfect no matter what anyone says about her, I know the right choice was made to cast her.
MG: Tell us about your film “Complacent”, which you wrote, produced and directed?
SR: “Complacent” is very close to me not only because it is the only film out of 15 that I have directed that I directed, wrote, and produced but also because there are many elements of that film that were inspired by both my life and my wife’s. The film is a study of my perspectives of different events of our lives some that happened together and many that happened to me before we met. A lot of it is very close to her and a lot is very close to me and I wanted to put it all in a dark, sad, funny at times somewhat satirical bag and shake it up together. Most people that have seen it have said to me that they saw part of themselves in the film within at least one of the characters. The cast was amazing and brought all these suburban white Americans to life big time for me. We did the film for literally no money and it was all passion that got it done. I am indebted to everyone that worked on that project.
MG: You have worked with Cerina Vincent on three films now, how did this relationship start?
SR: Cerina is now a very dear friend. My wife and I love her very much. We first met about seven years ago when I was directing a horror film for Stephen J. Cannell and we were trying to cast the lead. He came in the office and said, how about Cerina Vincent from “Cabin Fever”… Without thinking I said “yes”. We hit it off on that shoot, became friends and then she did a Syfy film for me “Devil On The Mountain” (which Syfy changed the title to “Sasquatch Mountain”) then we did “Complacent together”. She is a very underestimated actor, drama or comedy, horror or action or thriller she can do it all.
MG: You have worked with Syfy Channel on quite a few films now i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”, tell us about working on those films?
SR: The TV movie world is very different than feature films. For the most part people do not understand that in television directors do not have a whole lot of say in a whole lot of things. Even though I am seriously poked fun at all over the internet for doing TV movies and then “I Spit On Your Grave”, I don’t care because I am actually very fortunate to be able to jump formats like that and shooting a Syfy movie is like being eight years old again and making my sci fi and action films with my super 8 camera. You have creatures, stunts, guns, blood… Come on, it’s a blast. Funny thing with internet critique is that if the people that were goofing on me for the TV movies I did before “I Spit” actually did a moment of research they would see that I have also done six other feature films.