He is the second man behind The Last Rung On The Ladder Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Dan Thron: I currently live in Boston, and make movies primarily for the videogame business, doing the ads and ‘cutscenes’– the (usually animated) cinematics that advance the story between levels of gameplay. I did the movies for Eidos’ ‘Thief‘ series for PC and Playstation, as well as work for ‘Neverwinter Nights‘ (a Dungeons and Dragons license) and many others.
For the past 4 of those years, I’ve co-owned and ran an animation and effects company called Rustmonkey, with the aim of making features.
SKSM: How did you become involved with The Last Rung on the Ladder?
Dan Thron: Jim and I went to high school together in Chatham, Massachusetts, and were on the same bus. We’re both serious geeks (though Jim was much, much cooler than me — you can ask him, I was a bit more of a Napoleon Dynamite character), so it wasn’t long before we became good friends, talking about Star Wars, Aliens, etc. But unlike all my other friends, who mainly wanted to talk about how great it was to WATCH these movies, he was the only other person I knew who was as interested in the MAKING of them as I was.
Jim had already made a couple of very funny short films, and I believe he lent me the copy of King’s ‘Night Shift’ collection that started the ball rolling, and suggested we do write to King.
SKSM: How did you get started as a (co-)director and what do you do on a production?
Dan Thron: There’s a lot of good stuff in Night Shift, but Last Rung was a natural for us, as not only was it a non-effects based production — so that it was within our budget and technical abilities — but it was also a good mix of Jim’s and my skills in storytelling.
Jim is an excellent character director, and I’m very visually oriented. And using Jim’s wonderful adaptation as a base, I think we found the division of work quite easy — I could focus on telling the story from a visual standpoint, and he could bring his vision to the actors, and take time to draw the gentle performance he wanted from them. We complimented each other very, very well I think.
SKSM: You worked with James Cole on this film, how was that?
Dan Thron: Jim is one of the most talented folks I know. I was amazed then, and continue to be amazed now at his process; He’s patient and straightforeward; he communicates at a very real, very emotional level, and it’s impossible not to be affected by his deep sense of empathy, whether in his writing or in his direction. In Last Rung, he treated the kids with incredible respect and trust, and the naturalism is evident on the screen. Likewise, he was very understanding of what I wanted to do with the camera. His confidence in everyone kept the set very peaceful and fun. A real pleasure; I learned a lot from watching him work.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Dan Thron: There is a running gag in all the outtakes from the film where Glen Whelden, brother of Melissa, who played Kitty, would run into frame and yell in a fake-old-man voice, “excuse me, is this the way to the Indian trading post?” and everyone would double over. I cannot for the life of me remember why that was so funny to us then, but there it is. 🙂
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?
Dan Thron: I would love to work on another King piece; certainly there are some movies I’d like to remake — I’m convinced Firestarter would be beautiful if done right. But of the shorts, I really can’t believe no one’s tackled ‘The Long Walk’ — I’d love to take a shot at that.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Dan Thron: Thanks very much!