About Trevor Juenger
“My goal was challenging conventional views of film, even as a child.”
Trevor Juenger is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter.
“I started out with my parents’ discarded VHS Camcorder. The battery wouldn’t charge, so I had to keep it plugged into the wall. It was pretty much falling apart.”
Still, Juenger manages to put together a few shorts. “I was eleven, and really into claymation. I can’t remember any of the plotlines, but they all ended with a pile of body parts.”
Juenger grew up in the village New Athens, IL. Population: 2000. There was one restaurant, one gas station, and one school.
“When I write, I write little dialogue; never monologues. I grew up alone. Long seamless conversations aren’t a part of real life. Monologues are a myth.”
This reads in Juenger’s first three features and featurettes, “Live or Die,” “Hermetica,” and “Johnny Be Gone.” Each of the three features a protagonist tackling heavy mental issues alone, to no avail.
Bathrooms are used heavily in Juenger’s work. Mirrors and bathtubs are recurring plot devices in his films.
“The protagonist always ends up in the bathtub. I can’t explain it. I never plan it. I begin normally, or as normally as I can manage, then gravitate to the tub. Someday, I will die there. I’m sure of it.”
“Live or Die” is completed in 2005, and is Trevor Juenger’s first featurette. It features a young deviant who rapes and murders a female hitchhiker, then loses his sanity, seemingly from guilt and self-loathing.
“I pieced together some home movies and that old VHS camcorder and a friend’s Hi-8. There was no script, I wrote it on the fly. I was watching a lot of David lynch; the ideas were just flowing out of me. It was my passion project.”
In 2008, “Hermetica” is completed. It is a series of five vignettes, all relative to deviant or taboo behavior. A documentarian follows a cult leader through an elective eye surgery where his mind is arrested, and he is shown a series of biblical stories through the cult leader’s eyes.
“I had the chance to work with some professional actors, and learned a whole hell of a lot, but in the end, I never felt truly accomplished. It was a stepping stone. I had a blast shooting it. Filmmaking became more of a collaborative process for me. I could give actors some space to do their thing, which was great because I was playing the role of literally every crew member.”
In 2010, Trevor Juenger completes “Johnny Be Gone.” An actor Juenger finds on an audition website while casting for “Hermetica,” stars in this latest work.
“I wrote the movie with Erik (Williams) in mind. He’s got a strange and amazing natural presence. When he came in and read a few scenes, I was totally blown away. As soon as the wig went on, he
transformed. When I see him now, it’s like Johnny playing Erik. It was an outstanding role for him; the performance is tremendous.”
“Johnny Be Gone” follows a confused transsexual whose life is seemingly a
parade of imagined glamour and bitter disappointments.
“Shooting ‘Johnny’ was nerve-racking. I write what I can produce, so we shot in my apartment at the time. The characters are loose representations of me, sometimes not so loose, so I got to enjoy filming my own miserable
situations in my own miserable environment, then, at the end of the day,
live it. It seemed never-ending. ‘Johnny Be Gone’ is an extension of my
self and my life, and I’m putting it out there for everyone to see.”
Juenger feels his approach to film is “something of a mixture between hyper-realism and surrealism.”
“I draw a lot of inspiration from other directors like Dario Argento, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and David Lynch. They fuck with your perceptions of reality and life. I can relate.”