August 19, 2011

Q & A with Bereavement Director Stevan Mena

Writer/Director Stevan Mena graciously took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions about Bereavement, as well as his earlier movies Malevolence and Brutal Massacre.
Jude Felton (JF) – Congratulations on Bereavement. I just finished watching it a couple of days ago and have to say that it was well worth the wait. After its limited theatrical release you must be thrilled to finally see it coming to Blu-ray and DVD?
Stevan Mena (SM) – Yes, the whole process was exhausting as I was involved from writing and production, all the way through distribution, so it’s great to see it finally seeing the light of day. The film wasn’t made, it was forged.
JF – Bereavement is the prequel to your debut movie Malevolence. At what point did you decide that you wanted to expand on the story from that movie? Was it always the plan? Or did this decision come later on?
SM – That was always the plan. The entire story was originally one novel that I broke up into three parts. This was part 1 of three. Malevolence was part II.
JF – Carrying on from the previous question, I read that you had planned this story as a trilogy, is that still the plan? Do you have a next movie already lined up?
SM – Malevolence 3 is already in pre-production. It’s once again a very different film from its predecessors.
JF – Bereavement is an incredibly intense movie in places, and I was surprised that it was released with an R rating. Were there any scenes you had to cut? Or decide not to use?
SM – No, I voluntarily excised certain portions of gore that I felt ventured into excess and revolt. My intention was to shock and to terrorize, not to disgust to the point of people turning off the TV, or leaving the theater (which they still did). I just dialed it back a bit. There’s only so much people need to stomach. They get the point. Anyone who needs more than what I presented needs psychiatric help. The MPAA passed it on first viewing..
JF – Actress Alexandra Daddario, who is excellent as Allison, is probably best known for the more family orientated movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. How was she to work with, and how did she respond to some of the more intense scenes she had to film?
SM – Amazing. She is the real deal. She is a superstar, even if she refuses to admit it. She is so grounded for a girl that possesses the talent and beauty she does. She’s a winner.
JF – How was it working with Michael Biehn and Jon Savage?
SM – Michael Biehn was a blast to work with. He is very involved, and just a fun guy. And he’s a real man’s man, too, tough guy on and off screen. Savage was an interesting trip, you never know what to expect, he really keeps you on your toes. You never know what he’s going to say.. A true original talent.
JF – Horror movies involving children are always a sensitive subject, and some of the scenes in Bereavement are uncomfortable to watch. Spencer List however was fantastic in his role as the young Martin Bristol. How did he respond to the material?
SM – He loved being on set, and loved the blood effects. He pushed himself hard. He didn’t need any prodding, he was there to make a good film. A real intelligent person, and a talent to watch. As is his sister. And his performance, though understated, was very difficult to pull off. It’s hard for any actor to emote with only facial expressions and no dialogue. His silence was terrifying on screen.
JF – What was the most challenging part of filming Bereavement?
SM – The finances are often the toughest part. Trying to do what you want, but realizing you only have a limited budget. And I wanted the film to have an epic quality to it, which is why I chose to shoot it in super 35mm this time around. It was stunning to see projected. Aside from that, I’m very squeamish about blood, I feint at the sight of real blood. So doing the killing scenes always leaves me woozy. I have trouble watching. In the edit room, I’m fine, but when it’s live, it just gets to me. I’d make a terrible doctor.
JF – Some of the locations in Bereavement and your second movie Brutal Massacre looked similar, and I know they were both film in my home State of Pennsylvania, were they filmed nearby to each other?
SM – Literally a mile from each other. Brutal Massacre was based on the making of Malevolence. Everything in that movie that happens to Harry, happened to me in real life. Everything. The making of Malevolence was epic in it’s tragedy, so I knew it would be fun to laugh at myself by making Brutal Massacre. And the sets from Brutal were a stone’s throw away from malevolence. The only reason I didn’t use the same sets was because it would be a little too close, especially since I had to still make Bereavement.
JF – With Bereavement’s release I personally am hoping more people will check out Malevolence, are there plans for a Blu-ray release?
SM – Ha ha, Anchor bay has promised, but only if people buy Bereavement on Blu Ray. So every Blu Ray we sell, is one step closer to the Malevolence Blu Ray.. And I’ve already delivered a newly mastered Hi Def Transfer to them, so it’s in their lap now, they just have to say yes. Feel free to write them… hint hint…
JF – Once again, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and I will leave the last word to you. Is there anything you would like to add?
SM – Yes, remember, piracy hurts the little guy. Buying a dvd for an indie film is the same as tipping your waiter. People who pirate small indie films are the same people who skip out the door without tipping for their meal. I know it’s pervasive, and everyone does it, but if you buy a dvd, you’re directly supporting that filmmaker’s career by helping him/her make another movie. It really and truly makes a difference. Peace.
(Bereavement is released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 30th through Anchor Bay Entertainment.)

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