Stephen Gevedon: The ‘Session 9’ Retrospective Interview

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Location, Location, Location

via USA Films

1428 Elm: The location was central to the plot of the movie. How did you decide on Danvers State Insane Asylum? Was that the first choice? 

SG: It was our first choice but we did look at other facilities — but they weren’t as dramatic. Brad had lived up in the greater Boston area (where he shot Next Stop Wonderland) and had heard of the place. It was a pretty famous location up there all through its existence and even after it was abandoned.

Parents would threaten their ill-behaved children with, “sending them up to Danvers”, “…sending them up the hill.” Once we scouted the location we then wrote set pieces with it in mind. So, even though we hadn’t secured the location “the tunnel sequence”, “the gym” and various other elements had been written into the script and were integral to the story.

We kind of put the cart before the horse and it worked out. In a sense, I think in art you have to do that. “Act as if ye had…”, and so on and so forth.

Renaissance Man

Stephen Gevedon – Courtesy of IMDB

1428 Elm: Your acting resume is impressive. Did you always want to write for film?  Do you prefer writing over acting? 

SG: Well, thank you (deep actors stage bow). Not to be too overwrought or precious about it all, but I have been acting and writing and painting and making music (I have an album on bandcamp at the moment) literally since elementary school.

I wrote a play in my freshman year in high school, a spoof of a Greek tragedy that I cribbed Woody Allen extensively for, from a play that he wrote that appears in a book of his WITHOUT FEATHERS. I got an A and have yet to cut him on that grade.

In fourth grade I was Pinocchio and I studied Studio Art in college. I was planning on being a painter in NYC after I got out of school. So, when the opportunity arose to write a movie it made perfect sense to simply say yes to another creative outlet. To just go along with that.
I couldn’t say I prefer one of the other. They are very different at their core. Acting, like playing classical music, is an interpretive art. Writing, unless you’re doing a re-write is a ground up creative moment and that can be very fulfilling.

Writing, like painting, is lonely work though, and one reason I decided to give a shot to the film business in general was its collaborative nature. I like both, it’s hard to pick. Like picking between Japanese or French food.

Scary Roots

Stephen Gevedon – Mike – Courtesy of USA Films

1428 Elm: Most of your work has been in dramas. Session 9 was definitely a horror flick. Are you a fan of the horror genre? If so, is there a particular film that you cite as an influence? 

SG: Yes, I was quite a fan of the genre when I was younger. Elementary school. I was always more of a science fiction fan but that said, growing up I would watch all those old 1950’s and 1960’s b-movies on TV.

I think I’ve seen the entire Hammer catalogue at least twice and always thought that Christopher Lee made the best Dracula. As far as influences for Session 9 go, Brad and I both had The Shining in mind.

And oddly enough, we were both affected by a picture called Burnt Offerings. I say oddly simply because I didn’t think it was a particularly popular film that people knew about.