Exclusive Interview with “#FromJennifer” Director Frank Merle

Horror icons Tony Todd (Candyman, the Final Destination series) and Derek Mears (Friday the 13th, “Twin Peaks”) star in #FromJennifer, the “highly original and radically ingenious” (Starburst) new film from award-winning writer/director Frank Merle, out 9/26 on Digital and Cable from Sector 5 Films.

Jennifer Peterson (Danielle Taddei) is having a very rough week. She’s been fired from a movie shoot, her manager just dropped her, and her boyfriend dumped her, right after releasing a sex tape of them together.
 But Jennifer has decided to turn things around: she hatches a plot she calls “Revenge Porn Revenge,” in which she plans to settle the score by filming a devastatingly elaborate video and posting it online, making herself famous in the process. But like everything else in her life lately, her revenge plot doesn’t go according to plan, and a shocking trail of carnage is left in her wake.

Winner of no less than 7 major film festival awards, including Best Director at the Illinois International Film Festival (Frank Merle) and Best Actress (Danielle Taddei) at the Mindfield Film Festival, #FromJennifer features a host of genre favorites in-front of and behind-the-camera including actors Aaron Abrams (“Hannibal”), Meghan Deanna Smith (Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness), Trae Ireland (13/13/13) and Danielle Taddei (“Pretty Little Liars”), with producers Frank Merle and Hunter Johnson (#2Jennifer) and executive producers James Cullen Bressack (Bethany, To Jennifer) and Warren Croyle.

-PH: So, the message of the movie is, ‘screw technology, right? It never leads to anything good!

-Frank: As legendary movie producer Samuel Goldwyn once said, “Messages are for Western Union.” I prefer for the actions of my characters to speak for themselves. Obviously, there are certain themes at play in #FromJennifer, as I poke fun at internet stardom and gender roles, but it’s perfectly alright for different audiences to have a different take-away when they watch the film.

-PH: The film is a sequel to the previous ‘Jennifer’ movies? Or it’s own beast?

-Frank: The only relationship between this film and “To Jennifer” is the title and its found-footage style. It’s otherwise a stand-alone film. If the series continues, there might be a way to tie this one in with the others, but for now, it’s merely thematically liked to the previous films.

-PH: Are you afraid of our future?

-Frank: I’m optimistic about the future. Human progress is slow, and sometimes there’s a backslide, but in general, things seem to progress in the right direction.

-PH: How do you feel about technology?

-Frank: Technology gives humans more power. It can be used for good or for evil. I’m hopeful that the good use of technology ultimately outweighs the bad.

-PH: Do you think stuff like this happens in real life?

-Frank: “Revenge porn” is a real thing. That element of the script was inspired by a news story I read about a high school teacher who had been fired because her ex had uploaded an intimate video of them together to the internet after they broke up. I was struck by how unfair that seemed to me, that she was punished for something that someone else had done.

-PH: How helpful was James Cullen Bressack in putting this all together?

-Frank: I wouldn’t have ever made this film if not for James. After the success of “To Jennifer” and “2 Jennifer,” the distributor was hungry for more. Since I was a producer and the editor on “2 Jennifer,” and James wanted to keep it in the family, he called me up one day and encouraged me to make my own entry in the series. He let me have creative control, which I appreciated, and he provided help and guidance whenever I needed it throughout the process.

-PH: Can you imagine #FromJennifer being made twenty years ago? How different would it be?

-Frank: Wow, twenty years ago, the internet was just becoming a thing. So if this movie had been made then, we would have had to deal with dial-up and that annoying connection sound. (Ask your parents.) But the idea of filming yourself all the time didn’t exist twenty years ago, because video cameras weren’t small enough to make that practical.

-PH: You’re very fond of the genre. What is it about horror that keeps you coming back?

-Frank: There’s such a wide range of tones and types of films under the “horror” umbrella. I could never get tired of it. It’s fun to be scared. And a really good horror film can help us process the real horrors in life better.

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