Director Jeremy Saulnier’s latest project Green Room is a roller coaster of thrilling adrenaline set to punk rock tunes.
Saulnier’s Green Room is a can’t miss film about a true original story that pushes the audience off the edge with it’s horror style film making.
We see in the Green Room Saulnier utilize every inch to deliver a hard pressed story of a struggling punk band who’s found themselves in the middle of a white supremacist rock club between a dead body and a gun.
Green Room is Saulnier’s follow up to his successful sophomore feature Blue Ruin (2013). As an independent film maker Saulnier has created a unique film that will stand out this year for its cutting edge story and its visually beautiful gruesome portrayal.
Chicago Music sat down with Saulnier and talked about the release of Green Room, decisions behind making the film, and being able to work with legendary film actor Sir Patrick Stewart as an independent director.
Having this film in your head for years how does it feel with the release of Green Room opening with high praise?
It’s great. It’s been decades long journey to get here. I didn’t even know I had the opportunity to do this. I thought this was a pretty crazy movie to make.
It’s really hard to pitch this kind of movie. You only full appreciate the value of the film when it’s fully realized and finished. Sound mixes there when it’s all cut to perfection.
It’s great to see the songs I heard as a kid that gave me so much energy back on screen that hopefully can reflect back on the audience and they’ll see what the attraction is. The key about Green Room is that you don’t need to bring an encyclopedia knowledge of punk, hardcore, or metal. You get to experience the energy with it and why there’s an attraction there. That for me is the most satisfying part.
With the success of Blue Ruin and now the release of last year’s Sundance favorite Green Room what’s your next step in film making? Rumors are your penned to write for bigger studio films.
I’ve got a few ideas locked and loaded for things I’ll write. I’ve been so involved with the Green Room process from writing, to shooting, premiering it, come back and fix the sound mix, to marketing it. It’s my great pleasure to market this movie
I’ve taken a break from writing for a bit looking for directing chops. It would be fun for me to find material that I did not generate and practice the craft of directing. I’ve done so many films were you wear so may hats there’s such a blur in the division of labor that I look forward to doing one thing which is to direct.
But what I do think as I navigate the industry I need to be flexible and I’ll definitely go for some studio movies. Nothing has been reported or confirmed; those are just kind of rumors. I’m certainly pursuing studio projects not because of there scale but because there’s great bigger stories I want to tell.
I also want to keep the option open to sneak back into the Virginia woods and make an independent film with my friends and have total control and then present it to the world unfiltered. That’s the big promise. I think a lot of filtration and normalization happens to filmmakers. I just want to make sure for better or worse that my films are my films.
I spend the time other filmmakers don’t. I get the opportunity to get that vision right to the audience; they really appreciate it. They see things they never seen before, real human characters acting like real people. It’s still a hyper intense situation in a cinematically rich environment but when you see real people do real things it’s such a welcomed relief for audience members.
Green Room centers and captures different styles of filmmaking from thriller, horror, noir, and even a bit romance. Was that intentional in order to tell the story?
I kind of blurt things out. I have a certain amount of design; my particular structure is more visual. If you watch Green Room you’re like “wow this seems like a very unpredictable and chaotic movie.”
If you watch it a couple more times you see there’s all kinds of set up and pay off. You start in this world that seems very slow burn opening but every little scene is leading to somewhere where it all comes full circle by the end of the film.
I find that in life there is humor in tragedy. If stories are packaged into one thing they don’t ignite the fire, they just dull out. When stories have more nuance and diversity of emotional experiences I think it’s more fun.
It’s fun to go from laughing to crying. In life people go from hysterically crying to laughing. It’s a part of the human condition.
With that in mind, when shooting the film Green Room, it mainly centers on the small room behind the stage. Did it pose any difficulty when filming?
After initial searching trying to find a venue that would fit our story we realized we had to build it from scratch. That was the first time as a filmmaker I ever had a huge location built inside a sound stage. I felt guilty at first. When you’re able to design with your production designer the complete overhead layout and put hallways were you need them to be. The door is actually relative to the feature.
It was just fantastic having complete control over the interior. That allowed me to easily translate what I wrote. I figured without this being built to spec without this huge concert venue and the green room behind the stage I would be lost. So I felt very familiar because it’s been in my head for months if not a year when we were shooting it.
When you have people trapped in a room, the point of the film is the press cooker. It has to be intense; it has to be dreadful. It was all about not only utilized space with the inn and trying to make it interesting and break it up with an intuitive camera work that wasn’t too flashy but really served the story. It’s also about playing with what we didn’t see what was going on outside of the room that is the level of intensity where the visual approach exterior work outside the green room.
In the film every character lists their desert island band. What’s your desert island band, food, and film?
Desert island film, Radars of the Lost Ark. Desert Island food, well how long would I survive? Because it would be a doghnut but doughnuts everyday – I won’t be surviving so it would have to be chicken rice and beans. If I had to pick a desert island band it would have to be Black Sabbath. They’re my band.
Last question, what was the most surreal moment having been able to work with Patrick Stewart?
We were all very excited when he came on board the film. I have two memorable moments: one just seeing Sir Patrick Stewart as Darcy Banker the head of the skin head gang and my very good friend from high school Macon Blair, who I grew up making movies with, walk side by side through a death metal show. That image was like “What have I done? This is amazing.” That was my fan boy moment like this is too cool.
Between me and Patrick my favorite moment was when we were working on a intimate scene between him and his underling, Gabe. Patrick and I are talking about it and I kept having his level come down hearing that this is his quietest performance he’s ever given onstage or screen. Wow, we set a Sir Patrick Stewart record.
You would have thought for Green Room about throbbing heavy metal punk hardcore music and intense action with shotguns and pit bulls that amongst all this carnage and chaos that Patrick would be giving his quietest performance ever. It’s a really fun contrast one that we worked on together and are proud of.
Check out our video interview with Saulnier along with clips from Green Room.