In Session: Spencer Sherry

SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a year of labor and love, local filmmaker Spencer Sherry is in the final stretch of his film, The Monkey, the adaptation of a Stephen King short story of the same name. Complete with a successful crowdfunding campaign, a cast that consists of local actors, as well as some from New York City, The Monkey is well into its post-production phase. I had the chance to sit down with the filmmaker. What follows is our conversation, in which we delve into the movie, influences, and more.

Lucas Garrett: Spencer, I want to thank you for taking the time this morning to sit down and talk about your work. How’re you doing?

Spencer Sherry: Good! Thank you very much for having me. I’ve spent all morning editing; you got me right in the middle of the flow.

LG: I heard you’re working on something new. What is it?

SS: Yes. I’m doing an adaptation of a Stephen King short story.

LG: Very nice! What story?

SS: It’s The Monkey. It’s about that wind-up monkey toy. Every time it claps, someone dies. I got permission from King’s people to do it. I’ll be the first person to adapt that story into a movie.

LG: What made you want to do that one?

SS: I like stories – especially horror and supernatural things – that have very small elements of the fantastical. I like the themes of the story and this kind of inevitable “creep.” I like the device of the monkey, whereas it’s more of the tension that comes from it not happening and you waiting for the bad thing to occur, rather than a straight up monster. For me, it’s the fear of the inevitable, and I lean very heavily into that in the film.

LG: My area is mainly with music, but there is often a symbiotic relationship between film and music. How did you get started as a filmmaker?

SS: I’m still not sure what I want this movie to sound like. I’m about to start engaging in the process of getting composers; finding the right fit for this. It’s an apropos time to be talking about this with someone that covers a lot of music. Filmmaking started… I grew up watching movies. It was the way a lot of me and my best friends bonded. Not necessarily causing trouble in town, though that happened, too.

I tried a couple of other things in school, first, because I never considered writing stories and getting in this medium. Then, we watched Sam Raimi’s new show, Ash Vs. the Evil Dead.

LG: I love that show.

SS: It’s a ton of fun. I really admire that type of filmmaking. When we watched it, we started googling Sam Raimi, because we knew he did the Spiderman movies. His first Evil Dead movie came out when he was 21. My friend and I were 21 at the time, and we looked at each other and decided we had to get going if we wanted to do it.

I started taking classes, never finished but found opportunities. I moved down to the City and started working on big budget stuff. I came back to the Capital Region, and began working on my own work. This is my first big break.

LG: Who is going to be in this movie?

SS: We have a mostly local cast; some of them are from the City. I found them online and some were referrals. Local people would be: John Romeo, who’s big in the scene and plays the father; Ryan Palmer; Casey Dunn; Matthew Bagley, the owner of Harvey’s Pub in Saratoga. And, others as well.

LG: Nice. The teaser poster is very cool. Who worked on that?

SS: That’s a promotional one we did for the crowdfunding campaign. It was a perk for people that donated a certain amount of money. The poster was designed by tattoo artist and muralist, James McIlroy out of Oneonta. He did this amazing white pencil on a black background.

LG: Is your main interest in film horror?

SS: Kind of. I like dark drama. I like dark comedy, as well. I definitely skew more towards the darker side of things and horror is a good fit for that. Although it’s Stephen King, it’s mostly a suspenseful, tension-building drama. It has a lot of heart and poignancy, as well.

LG: Besides Sam Raimi, who are some of your creative influences?

SS: Stylistically, Sam Raimi is one of my favorites; there were definite stylistic homages to him in this movie. The Coen Brothers are a couple of my favorite for their dark humor, plot building, and story building. Martin McDonagh directed and wrote my favorite movie, In Bruges.

LG: When will The Monkey be coming out?

SS: I’m hoping by the end of the year, or by early 2023. I’m a little over halfway done with the rough-cut. After the rough-cut it goes to four other people before it is anywhere near presentable.

LG: Who are they? Did you pick those four people?

SS: One of them is my cinematographer, Jim Powers. The other is my production designer, John Stegemann. Jim does the coloring, and Stegemann knows how to do VFX. The other two people I need are a sound designer and composer. The trailer has been rough-cut and is now in Jim’s hands to color it and give it the final OK. Once we have a picture lock on the trailer, I’m going to audition composers for the movie with the trailer. Anyone that wants to audition for composing the entire film will be asked to score the trailer, first. The best scored trailer will get the job. I’m a week or two away from meeting with them.

LG: Will that be an open call audition?

SS: Yes. Since beginning the campaign, they’re the one job position that’ve reached out the most. I’ve gotten offers from people all over the place. The call I’ll put out will be more locally based.

LG: Is there anything we may have missed you’d like to elaborate on?

SS: I’m excited to get this out there, and for people to see the trailer. I think it’s going to really excite people. It’ll be cool to present the work after a year of telling people I’m doing this thing.

LG: Alright, Spencer! Thank you for your time.

SS: Thanks for taking the time to do this.

LG: Have a great day.

SS: You, too.

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