Stevan: "So far everything I've done
has been on my own".
Conducted by Phil
October 16th, 2004
I'm sure that by now, many of you
will have heard of the award winning horror film 'Malevolence', as it is
getting much critical acclaim and huge positive word of mouth everywhere
it is shown.
With comparisons being made to 'Halloween' and 'The
Texas Chain Saw Massacre' amongst others, I thought it was time for a chat
with Director Stevan Mena.
When did you first become
interested in the medium of film?
I became interested in film at a very early age. My father's idea of time
well spent with his kids was a day at the movies. I originally wanted to
be a film composer. I had records of all my favorite film soundtracks. I
carried them around in this red box; I wanted to be John Williams. I was a
Did you attend film
Tried it, hated it. I did however attend a film class with American Blue
Note Director Ralph Toporoff in 1998. It was a month long class where you
were instructed on the business end of filmmaking. It taught me a great
deal about how to finance, cast actors, hire crew, plan and schedule. It
really helped a lot. Ralph was a great teacher; it was rare to get a one
on one with a working director.
How did you get started in the
I don't consider myself an industry person yet. So far everything I've
done has been on my own. But I'm hoping that now Malevolence has been
picked up by legendary horror distributor Anchor Bay, I will soon get to
make more films, and maybe pay off my mountain of debt from this one.
Still looking forward to getting out of my 1 bedroom apartment, maybe even
getting my own washer and dryer...I hate Laundromats.
Where did the idea for
Malevolence stem from originally?
The idea came from the desire to write a horror film that really scared
you the way they did when I was a kid. I think a lot of new films are self
referential and try to be funny because they are afraid of seeming too
retro or derivative. But what they don't seem to realize is by making a
slasher film in general, you're inherently beginning with derivative
material. So I say if it isn't broke...and I embrace the past, even
throwing in small homage’s to my favorite horror films. I also love the
idea of there being something at stake other than just the killer. Weaving
plotlines that twist around character priorities as the film goes on.
Are you a fan of the horror
HUGE fan. Criterion laserdisc special edition "insert horror title here"
If so what are some of your
favourite horror movies?
Texas Chainsaw (1974) "I've heard they made others, but I'm sure that's
just a rumor..."
Halloween (1978) "Greatest movie soundtrack period."
Alien "Scott is one of my favorite directors"
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Dawn of the Dead (1979) "Goblins score still rules"
Evil Dead 1
Evil Dead 2
Phantasm 2 "Forget Ash...Reg!!!"
Jaws 4 "Michael Caine still makes me laugh till soda shoots out my nose"
"It was the only part that I could pull off with no money".
I understand that it is the
middle section of a trilogy?
The script eventually mutated into 500 pages, so I had to break it up into
3 movies. So at least if they do a sequel, the story has somewhere to go,
there's more to tell, more to reveal.
Why do the middle section
It was the only part that I could pull off with no money. The prequel
requires elaborate sets, since it will focus on Martin's kidnapping, and
his descent into madness, and will intricately detail the origins of the
slaughterhouse. Can't do that with a credit card...And the sequel has car
chases and elaborate stunts, which again I couldn't afford. But the middle
takes place mostly in an abandoned house, which we found for next to
I take it you plan to film the
other two parts?
If they'll let me. If it was just there to make money and rip people off
with a cheap retread of the original, no, but since there's actually a
reason to go forward with the story, I would of course be interested.
There's still a lot to be explained and revealed. I think the ending kind
of makes you wonder what will happen next, but also, how did it come to
this? So it sort of sets up both the prequel and sequel.
How long did it take to
How did you go about finding
your cast and were you surprised by anyone?
We cast in NY using backstage and some web sites. It took a long time, but
eventually we found the right people. Brandon was discovered only 2 weeks
before principal photography.
Similarly, how did you find
1 year, and 10,000 miles logged of driving around..driving around...asking
people if they'd let us put them in a hotel while we wrecked their house.
Finally the planets aligned, and someone actually said yes. Crazy...
"There's more, but I'm getting depressed now..".
How long did the shoot last,
and did it go mostly to plan?
It was filmed over a 2 year period. My plan was shredded within minutes of
the first day. Everything went wrong, from lost locations, to car crashes
(7 total, still in litigation on one of them), to crew mutinies (one time,
they actually stole the negative from a day's shoot and ransomed it back
because they thought they weren't going to get paid. So much for crew
camaraderie). I got arrested once because one of the people who "agreed"
to let us use his house said we could do whatever we want, age the walls,
even knock them down because he was going to tear it down and rebuild in
the spring. So we wrecked the place. Turns out, He USED to own it, but the
bank foreclosed on him a year ago. So it was his revenge on the bank.
Luckily the bank decided not to press charges, and all we had to do was
repair the damage. Also, one of the actors had a brain aneurism,
fortunately he fully recovered. Just the tip of the iceberg. You name it,
it happened to us.
Have you encountered any huge
problems along the way?
You want more? Entire days shooting ruined by the lab, in fact the lab we
were using got sued by someone and we couldn't get our negative out for a
while. I also got arrested for not returning a U-haul truck the day it was
due (they're strict in PA). I had a mini heart attack while shooting what
would eventually become the opening scene. There's more, but I'm getting
How long did it take to edit?
Has the success of the film
surpassed your expectations?
Just finishing it surpassed my expectations. So at this point, I'm totally
How does it feel to have an
award winning feature under your belt?
I never thought it would happen on my first film, so it's a real
validation of hard work. I'm still surprised.
How have fans of the genre
reacted to the film?
We've gotten a real positive response from audiences. They've been
screaming in all the right places, and very loudly at times.
What are your hopes for the
theatrical run and eventual DVD & Video release?
I'm not sure what to expect, so I don't know, but I hope for the best.
When can we expect the other
parts of the trilogy?
Well, they'll only happen if audiences want it to. So I guess it depends
how well the film is received. But I do know I'd like to tell more of the
Is that what you will be
working on next?
I have a lot of other projects I'm working on, so I'm not sure, but
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."
Check out his official site here: http://www.malevolencemovie.com/
Below are streams for the Malevolence trailer:
Smaller stream - http://tiimes.com/malevolence/mtrailer100.asx
Larger stream - http://tiimes.com/malevolence/mtrailer430.asx