Your new movie The Man
in Room 6 - in a few words, what is it about?
about a young woman who meets an elderly man in a nursing home who claims
to be immortal. He tells her stories about how he was cursed to grow
old but never die.
a lot more to it than that, but thatís the short synopsis.
were your sources of inspiration when writing The
Man in Room 6?
think weíre always trying to inject bits of our lives into our stories.
My grandfather was living in a nursing home at the time. He went
into hospice care and eventually died during one of our shooting days.
Carrie Juenger was working as a medical courier for nursing homes and
asylums at the time, so I was privy to some wild stories from her.
are such a part of my life that I canít help but inject them into my
stories. I think the more obvious ones are horror omnibus films like
Black Sabbath, Tales from the
Crypt, Kwaidan, and Trilogy of
I think we (myself and most of the cast) are in love with Klaus Kinskiís
work, so Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht came up more than a few times when
preparing a scene. A
Tale of Two Sisters is a fantastic lesson on
perspective that Carrie and I studied. Lots of horror influences for
are also some things from film history that I love: the editing in Breathless,
Rashomonís revisionist storytelling, Tarkovsky's
cinematography. Thatís all in there to some degree. I
remember watching Little Big Man while writing and stealing some stuff
from that. I
think you could make a game of ďspot the homage.Ē
Man in Room 6 is rather labyrinthine in structure and seems to
follow its own logic - so how easy or hard was it for you to not literally
lose your plot telling your story this way?
has this kind of dream/fantasy logic that takes the shackles off in the
writing process. That makes what
happens easy to rationalize. The more challenging thing is to wrap
your mind around multiple interpretations of the story and revise around
that. Is it psychological, supernatural, or some combination of
both? Thereís no truth here. We removed anything that would
indicate clearly what weíre experiencing.
was always meant to be a challenging film from the viewerís perspective,
but I didnít realize how challenging that makes the production side.
Every detail needs to be considered.
extent could you actually identify with The
Man in Room 6's protagonist Carrie - or any of the other
think Carrie is an amalgamation of myself and Carrie Juenger. Itís
very close to me. Youíd have to ask Carrie how she feels about it
though. Iíd consider myself a mostly quiet, introspective type.
think I can relate to all of the characters. You have to project
yourself into these situations and consider how you might react. I
think in some situations, Iíd react much differently than others.
The nastier people in the script are the same way. I think if
weíre honest with ourselves, thereís a bitter, angry little person
that lives inside our minds. How often we let that out depends on
our life experience. Weíre kidding ourselves if we canít
understand why some ugly people became that way.
Do talk about The
Man in Room 6's approach to horror!
tried many things, but a big philosophy we tried to employ everywhere was
contrast. If you do things a particular way several times, then
change that up, people canít anticipate exactly how things are going to
go down even if they know whatís logically going to happen next.
We try to do that with the pacing of scenes. We also try to do that
with explicit images of spooky stuff. You obscure things. You
keep them hidden in shadow or visible only as the aftermath of something
awful, and your brain fills in the scary bits better than anything I can
show you directly. If you do it the entire time though, people get
used to it, so you have to give them something eventuallyÖ I
think a lot of monster movies operate like this. In my experience as
a viewer, the monster reveal disappoints nine times out of ten. In
our case, weíre not building to a monster reveal. Thank goodness
A few words
about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
think Iíve learned a lot from when I was a kid trying to make movies.
I used to hide behind the camera because working with actors is
intimidating. Itís tough to speak the same language. As
a director, everyone looks to you for answers to questions. When I
was less secure about what I was doing, Iíd make poor decisions and feel
the need to stick by them, because Iím supposed to know everything.
not really that way though. This is a collaborative art form, and
itís fine to answer a question with another. Itís fine to try
things and admit you are totally wrong and try something different.
Itís ok to ask for help.
had very few rehearsals on this picture. When we did, it was in
anticipation of tough blocking situations. Instead, I trusted some
performers that I was very comfortable with to bring their vision to their
characters. These are very talented people, so I think itís best
to give them the freedom to do what they do best. Then, directing
becomes a much more manageable task of trying to get everyoneís work to
can you tell us about The
Man in Room 6's key cast, and why exactly these people?
of them are really talented people that Iíve worked with before. I
knew how to talk with them. I feel comfortable working with them.
I usually write with certain people in mind.
worked with Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here] on Coyote in 2012. Iíve been trying to get
him back for another project for years, but things never seemed to line
up. Heís an inspirational person. He has this aura around
him that makes everyone want to perform to the best of their abilities.
Heís always chatted with me about wanting to do a film without dialogue.
That kind of inspired the style of the ocean sequence. Great screen
presence and great guy.
wrote the whole script for Jackie Kelly [Jackie
Kelly interview - click here], who I worked with on Dope, a
pilot for a show that didnít go anywhere. She had to have a
meltdown in a scene for us, and we really challenged her to bring
everything she had. I was so pleased with that performance. I
could see that she wanted to be a character actor, but didnít have the
chance to show that range at the time. I wanted to give her
something where people could see her ability.
Wassilak I had worked with several times on both narrative and
experimental projects. Heís an absolute professional and a stage
veteran here in St. Louis. I had no idea he was capable of what he
does in this film. I actually donít think I wrote him as cruel or
dark as what David brought to the table. Iím happy I trusted him
with the character.
Mullen, Frankie Ray, Don McClendon, Shawn Chevalier, and Joe Hammerstone
are all people Iím familiar with from other projects and enjoy being
Rochon [Debbie Rochon
interview - click here] was a new one for me. I wanted another horror veteran to
stabilize us. Itís so valuable to have those calm and confident
voices on set. Debbie was so smart about building her character.
We did a lot of research on actors to find the right person, and Iím
very happy we settled on Debbie.
are plenty more. This is an epic horror film, and I was very happy
with my cast.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
think things were tenser than in previous projects. We had some very
late nights, and everyone was striving to do the best that they could
possibly do. When you shoot for 3 years, the stakes feel much higher
regardless of budget. We want this movie to be good. No one
was dragging their feet. That doesnít usually make things feel fun
while filming. I donít want to speak for others, but it gives me a
sense of satisfaction when things come together though. I think
being close with cast and crew members really helps when things get tough.
We arenít afraid to be real with one another.
$64-question of course, where can The
Man in Room 6 be seen?
now, you can buy physical copies on themaninroom6.com. Streaming is
imminent, but we donít know an exact date for that. We know Prime Video should drop first and Tubi eventually, but as DIY filmmakers, we
donít really get the luxury of dictating release dates to streaming
Anything you can tell us
about audience and critical reception of The
Man in Room 6?
honestly one of the worst people to ask that question. If you tell
me you hate it, I absolutely believe you, but if you say you love it,
itís difficult for me to believe you. The reality is that very few
people like films with small budgets. I read about so many people
hating films that I consider to be objective masterpieces. Plenty of
people have told me that they like the film, because why would you
approach someone to tell them that their art sucks unless you want to be
rude and confrontational.
it or dislike it, what I really care about is whether or not you feel like
we tried something unique. The goal is to produce a different kind
of horror film. If you think itís run-of-the-mill or nothing
special (even if thatís a very bad kind of special), thatís the worst
criticism I can hear.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Any future projects you'd like to
but writing about them publicly is an instant jinx.
Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever
website is trevorjuenger.com. You can find socials on the website.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
You are pretty thorough. Thanks.
Thanks for the interview!