Jeremy Saulnier’s neo-Nazi punk-rock thriller “Green Room” is now in theaters, and well worth the price of admission for fans of genre movies and/or Sir Patrick Stewart. (Or both.) The writer-director held an AMA on reddit to field questions about his new film, which he says “grew out of my own experiences attending punk shows and singing in a punk band in my teens, and the desire to merge the punk world with a siege thriller.”
The most upvoted question was, perhaps unsurprisingly, about Saulnier’s color fixation — “Green Room” is preceded by “Blue Ruin.”
What colors are you interested in using in the future?
Purple, of course. But there will likely not be a color trilogy as some have suspected!
“Blue Ruin” has this really interesting attention to guns in terms of proper use. You have Devin Ratray’s character displaying really cautious and detailed care of gun ownership and rules of engagement. It says a ton about his character and adds gravity to gun use. What led you to including this detail and how did you go about writing this trait into the story? How did you approach adding this nuance to the character and does it represent a bigger subtext?
Guns are used in movies so often they become just expected props. They don’t seem like actual weapons. I just wanted to have a character who knew what the hell he was holding in his hands. I like detail and realism, so it applies to guns, gore and action as much as it does to performances, set design and wardrobe.
After “Blue Ruin” got all the acclaim it did, how weird was it coping with all the new attention?
It was super weird. But welcomed, of course. I think breaking in late prepared me in that I tried my best to appreciate the new opportunities but ignore the noise. I just put my blinders on and made another movie right away.
What was it like directing Patrick Stewart in a role, seemingly unlike anything he has done before? Also, do you have any fun stories regarding Patrick on set?
Working with Sir Patrick was wonderful. Like the rest of my cast, he was generous, supportive and professional. We worked together to create his quietest performance on stage or screen. He plays Darcy Banker, and he leads a skinhead gang, but he does it with quiet authority and brutal pragmatism. We were on the same page from the beginning. I called to ask him to grow a beard and he had already stopped shaving the minute he signed on. It’s the little things…
What’s a good piece of advice for someone who’s young and trying to make it as a director?
Too much to type. The ONE THING that applies to all directors hoping to break through- you need to stay in the game. The only way to guarantee not becoming a director (or breaking through into the industry) is to give up and call it quits. Get a day job. Work close to the industry, make contacts. When you save enough money to fund a feature film, don’t. Buy an apartment. Then save. Then blow it on a movie!
I’m curious if you could have cast any real world punk band as the fictional band from “Green Room” who would you cast? Also at the Q&A you said you were into the punk scene. Any moments from your punk days come close to being as scary as the events in the film?
If I could cast any real band it would be Missionary Position or No Turn On Fred. They were my buddies’ bands from high school on which the story is based. But there all in their 40s now so it’d be weird.
My punk days were relatively tame, but I was young (mid-teens) and so often felt out of my depth. There once was a stabbing outside a club and I felt the edge of real danger. Washington D.C. was the murder capital of the country back then (mid-nineties) so it was not the safest environment for a suburban twerp like myself!
Hey Jeremy, I wanted to say that I’m a huge fan of your films and I was wondering if there were any movies that directly influenced “Green Room?”
“Straw Dogs,” “River’s Edge,” “Platoon,” “Commando,” “First Blood, “The Thing (1882),” “Robocop,” “Assault on Precinct 13” (hadn’t watched it until AFTER I wrote “GREEN ROOM,” but it became an influence as far as texture and grit).
How difficult is it for an original filmmaker in the modern cinema climate of intellectual property to make a movie? Also, if offered, would you ever consider making a movie based on IP?
It’s very difficult to make any film. I’m still shocked when I hear about veteran filmmakers (some of my favs) not getting green-lights. I’ve had to self-fund most of my movies so there is a way around it, it just costs a lot (roughly your entire net worth).
Yes, looking at scripts and franchises all the time. When I find the right fit, I’ll jump at the chance to direct other IP!
For more, watch the “Green Room” trailer: