Phone Interview With Jesse Peyronel
March, 13th, 2002
Who is Jesse Peyronel? Why, the man who is going to make Invisible Monsters a movie, stupid. Why am I so sure of this now? Well, Jesse and I finally shared a phone conversation two Sunday's ago. (the same day I spoke to Chuck). I immediately found Jesse to be very intelligent, very kind, very excited, and very British.
He's lived in New York now since the mid-90s. He graduated from the Tisch School at NYU. I learned about his past success at festivals with his short film Swimming Out to Holly. I also learned that Jesse has become quite a connected man in his brief time in the industry. Not only did it ring through in his confidence... but Jesse didn't seem too concerned with impressing me with some resume of skills and achievements. One thing you learn very quickly in the film industry, is that everyone has an ego. Everyone is the best at what they do. Yet the people you usually want to end up working with come to you as a referral. Their skills speak for themselves... and they usually don't even have a resume.
Well, nevertheless, I gathered that Jesse has formed a name for himself by producing and directing commercials. He also seems to have a lot of good contacts and resources to tap. I sort of knew this going in after having a conversation with Edward Hibbert last month in which Edward told me that, selling the Monsters rights to a person like Peyronel was a no-brainer. Both Chuck and him were convinced that, even though Jesse was a first-timer, he had the means and resources to get this film done. It's one thing to have passion and talent... but at the end of the day the person on the other end of the table just wants to know whether or not you'll complete what you set out to do. And I have to say that, with Chuck's books... this should be a golden principle. We've already witnessed the demise of Survivor. And Choke seems to have vanished off our radars as well.
Once I knew enough about Jesse's past, we segued into talking about the actual production of Invisible Monsters. Jesse has, thus far, delivered a 105 page script to Chuck and Edward which they were both very pleased with. (Chuck pointed out in our conversation how filmic it all was). He is now deep in the process of storyboarding. Since Kevin and I are in the exact same phase with Our Lady of Sorrow I know how vital yet strenuous this job can be. When asked about casting, Jesse said that they have two very strong leads targetted for the roles of Shannon and Manus. These "two leads" are right now reading the script and Jesse will soon know if they are a go. Jesse admitted how important this decision is, as it could green-light the picture into immediate production.
Either way, he feels confident it is all going to come off. He even said to look for a finished film sometime next spring. Budget-wise, Jesse thinks they can do it anywhere between the 8-12 million dollar range. He pointed out that, unlike Chuck's other books, Monsters doesn't have a lot of huge set-pieces. Besides the two house burning scenes, there is no collapsing buildings... no insane Superbowl riots... and no houses made of rocks.
Before our conversation ended, I had to ask Jesse the question you all would have asked him: How are you going to handle the jaw situation? Jesse seemed pleased with my question, as he had his answer all lined up. He told me that you won't see her deformed face for most of the film. Not until the end where it will be handled in as poetic a way as possible. Meaning, you'll get a quick glimpse of it... but the scene won't be about the physical aspects of it. Rather, it will be a sort of "coming out." He seemed very into the idea of not making the audience fixated over Shannon and the grotesqueness of her deformed face. Yet he understand the weight of the details and promised he would nail it when the time came to finally reveal it.
He also threw in that Brandy and Shane will NOT be played by the same person. And that Brandy must be played by a talented actor who is up and coming. Yet someone we have never seen before.
With a story such as Invisible Monsters, I think the idea of showing the audience things they have never seen before is a good way to go. Which is why Jesse Peyronel... a newcomer and, someone we have never seen before, seems to me to be the perfect choice to make this book into the movie we all want it to be.