Spencer Sherry

He is the filmmaker of The Monkey Dollar Baby film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Spencer Sherry: I’m Spencer! I grew up in a tiny little town in Central New York and now I’m a two-time college dropout who bartends in Saratoga Springs, where I live with my girlfriend and her English bulldog.

SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?

Spencer Sherry: I started making up my own stories when I was about 18; I knew that I’d love to make them into films but didn’t think it was realistic. It wasn’t until I was 21 and found out that Sam Raimi was only 21 when the first Evil Dead movie came out that I decided to get in gear and really give it a shot.

SKSM: When did you make The monkey? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Spencer Sherry: I wrote it back in 2020, thinking that the Dollar Baby contract was applicable to any of King’s short stories. After realizing it wasn’t, I sat on the script for about a year before attempting to get permission to make it. The finished film ended up costing around $60k, all of which was very graciously donated or fundraised. I live in the Capital Region of New York, and I really made this project in collaboration with the amazing community here. I hired an all local crew and a mostly local cast for a shoot that ended up being about twelve full days. We started production on June 4th, 2022  and shot all over our region at about a dozen different locations.

SKSM: How come you picked The monkey to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Spencer Sherry: I really appreciate the way King blends drama with his horror. In the story, Hal is wrestling with favoritism in his relationships with his children, and more broadly, his own fatherhood. The monkey itself is a relatively simple horror device (that’s of course insanely creepy) but it’s got these deep symbolic implications of generational trauma and the fear of the inevitable. I wanted to take a shot at walking that tightrope between some very visually striking horror elements, as well as the rich family drama at the heart of the story. I think it’s a perfect cocktail of campy King and sincere grounded storytelling. My adaptation actually serves as a bit of a sequel: pushing the narrative into the next generation and how they deal with the curse.

SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?

Spencer Sherry: I think a friend of a friend made a musical out of “Willa” and that’s how I initially heard about the program. I didn’t jump on it right away though, and I clearly misunderstood the boundaries of it or else I never would have started adapting this particular story. I actually reached out initially to see how much a true option contract would cost, and when they told me no, I asked for a Dollar Baby version. Now James Wan is making a feature version, so I’m happy I took that swing when I did!

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Spencer Sherry: One of my favorite pieces of trivia from this project is that one day my cinematographer forgot the dolly that I wanted to use for one of my favorite shots in the film. In a poetically Stephen-King-appropriate pivot, he ended up clamping the camera to a church truck (look it up) and we got the shot. Probably my favorite improvisation from the whole shoot.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?

Spencer Sherry: I’m holding out on hope that it’s impressive enough to warrant some leeway with the contract restrictions. We’ve done a ton of promotion and I’m extremely proud of the response to it. I think that King fans will be very pleased and I want to share it with as many of them as possible. Fingers crossed!

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?

Spencer Sherry: I’ve yet to have someone tell me they didn’t like it! We’ve only done a few local screenings at this point, so I expect the community to be supportive. It’s about to get sent out to more objective reviewers soon though, so I’ll keep you posted. *grins nervously*

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Spencer Sherry: Right now we’re eyeing Brooklyn Horror! One of my producers knows one of the organizers so he thinks we’ve got a good shot. Other than that, we’re about to start exploring more possibilities!

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Spencer Sherry: I am! I don’t claim to be as diehard as the dollar baby community, but I grew up really admiring his work. Salem’s Lot made me close all the curtains before going to bed back in high school. I’m a big fan of a lot of his really gritty 80’s books: Cujo, Christine, Thinner, etc. I love how relentless and unforgiving his horror is in those. No happy endings. As far as adaptations go “Gerald’s Game” by Flannagan always sticks out as an unbelievably impressive film. It’s also got one of the best jump scares I’ve ever seen. The Outsider series is also great.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Spencer Sherry: He’s been predictably elusive, but I’ll be making more of an effort soon once I send him the dvd…

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Spencer Sherry: I’d love to take a shot at Duma Key. I think it’s got a lot of thematic devices that are similar to Monkey, and blends drama and horror expertly. You also can’t beat that setting. It’s such a beautifully visual story. I can’t believe it’s never been done.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Spencer Sherry: Besides trying like hell to get Monkey out there for the world to see? I just executive produced a short film titled “Anomaly” written and directed by my childhood friend Ryan Jenkins. It follows a famous magician’s final performances, and we were able to get world-renowned illusionist Eric Mead to fly out and play the role. I’m currently editing that in between answering these questions. Between those two projects I’m just enjoying finally showing the work after such a long creative process.

SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Spencer Sherry: The Monkey is my first official film! I’ve done some little college projects, and worked as a production assistant on some big NYC productions but I’ve never had a budget and a crew to spend it on before. A lot of people are very surprised when they see the film and “it’s like, a real movie”. I’ve never screened my work publicly before so this is a whole new experience that I’m getting used to.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Spencer Sherry: I hope you get a chance to see it! It’s definitely strange having a global preexisting fan base for your first film; I’m really trying to make sure as many of them get to see it as possible. I’m open to any suggestions or tips, so don’t be afraid to reach out!

SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?

Spencer Sherry: This has been such a surreal opportunity, and it’s due in large part to the Stephen King fans that stay supportive and invested in everything he touches. I’m honored to have a stake in the ground of this community and I hope my adaptation does it justice. If you want to follow along and reach out, the Instagram/Facebook is @themonkeyshort. Thank you Oscar for putting this together and giving us all this opportunity to share our work!

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.