He is the man behind The Road Virus Heads North Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Dave Brock: My name is Dave Brock and I just received my Masters Degree in Film Production at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. For most of my life I’ve been a student, although now that i’m at the end of my academic career, I hope I can put this final degree to some use!
SKSM: When did you make The Road Virus Heads North? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Dave Brock: Trying to make RVHN hasn’t been easy, with most of the problems we experienced having something to do with money. We got the rights back in 2001, so it’s been pretty slow and, at times, laborious. Making any kind of project in an acedemic setting can be a hassle, considering the nature of film school and the myriad hoops a student must jump through in order to get anything done. We had a few false starts and some scheduling snafus with a couple of actors we had approached, but everything finally fell into place and we were finally able to shoot it in December of 2003 for a period of seven days on a (non) budget of $10,000 (financed entirely by student loans). The really cool thing is that I was blessed with an extremely talented crew who made the production value seem as if it had cost five times as much to make it.
SKSM: How come you picked The Road Virus Heads North to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Dave Brock: I blame my sister Rebecca for that one. I remember the phone call I got from her one night during my first year in film school, when she absolutely raved about the story after she read it in an anthology called “999.” I knew why she liked it so much: when we were kids, we were both freaked out by an episode of Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” in which Roddy McDowell plays this snotty nephew who hastens his uncle’s death so he can claim an inheritance that wasn’t even his. What he inherited was a spooky old house and a painting of the family graveyard…in which he sees his dead uncle rise from the grave, shamble towards the house, open the front door…man, that was creepy! I guess it was the reaction we had to that episode, to the idea of a picture that changes, that all of a sudden came back to us and why we had reacted so strongly to RVHN. We thought it would be very, very cool if we had even the slightest opportunity to make it.
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?
Dave Brock: I’d read about Mr. King’s kindness to struggling filmmakers in numerous articles, but in his foreword to “The Green Mile” screenplay, he went in to more detail about it as he spoke about Frank Darabont’s wonderful “The Woman In The Room.” I’m not sure if he remembers me, but I worked as a production assistant for Jay Holben for a couple of days when he shot an independent horror film in West Virginia way back in 1997. A few years later, when I read that he wrote and directed his own dollar baby called “Paranoid” (which I’d love to see) we contacted him and he generously shared his experiences in securing permission from Mr. King. My sister, along with a couple of friends of mine at film school, helped with the five months of follow-up after our initial contact in April of 2001, and we finally received permission from Mr. King’s office to start production in September of 2001.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Dave Brock: I’d say the funniest moment for me personally was towards the end of the shoot, when we were shooting Richard’s confrontation with the Road Virus. Denny Dalen, who played Richard, is a highly respected actor and theater professor here at Ohio Univerisity, and was a real trooper throughout the shoot. Anyway, here we are, in Richard’s home, the front door flung wide open, poor Denny being blasted with ice cold air from a gigantic industrial fan while being simultaneously blinded by a pair of HMI’s that were stacked on top of one another, and I’m just screaming monosyllabic instructions at the top of my lungs, like “FLICKER! LIGHTS! DOOR!”, which the crew used as cues for the scene. After the second take or so it really started to seem a little absurd (it was getting late and I was getting loopy), and all of a sudden I recalled this television image of a paratrooper practicing in a wind tunnel, his lips flapping uncontrollably because of the high-pressure blast of air hitting him in the face. So I’m watching Denny and I was imagining his lips flapping uncontrollably because of the huge fan in front of him, and I just lost it. I almost had to leave the room.
I’d say a special moment occurred on the first day, when I saw the beautiful set for the nightmare sequence (which was in the basement of a crumbling old asylum, by the way) and had the privilege of watching these really talented people working so hard after so many months of trying to get the movie going. It was pretty surreal.
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 video release would be possible?
Dave Brock: Well, Mr. King’s agreement is pretty explicit as to the types of exhibition the filmmaker is allowed to pursue, and for a very good reason. I think Mr. Holben explained this reason very eloquently in his interview on your site, and I’m glad that he did. I’m in the process of drafting a request to Mr. King’s office for another exhibition possibility, but in the meantime, I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be able to submit the film to festivals, and more importantly, I’m just thankful to have had the opportunity to make something that Mr. King had written, with his permission!
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)?
Dave Brock: Mr. King’s assistants, Julie Eugley and Marsha DeFillipo, have always been kind and helpful to us and have just been wonderful. We haven’t had personal contact with Mr. King, but we are in the process of putting together a final package containing the film and other materials that I hope to send out to him soon. I really hope he likes the movie!
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?
Dave Brock: Oh, god…I think he wrote in one of his introductions that someone once told him that if he published his laundry list, people would buy it. I know I would, and I’d probably ask his permission to make a short film about it. Whatever he writes, I’d love the opportunity to shoot it!
I’m thrilled that Frank Darabont has the rights to “The Mist;” I think he’d do an amazing job.
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?
Dave Brock: I’d like to thank Mr. King, of course, for his generosity, my cast and crew for a job very, VERY well done, my sister Rebecca for starting the whole thing, and to Ms. Eugley and Ms. DeFillipo for all the help. And to the others fortunate enough to secure permission to make a dollar baby, I wish you all nothing but the best of luck and I really hope that you had (or will have) just as much fun making a Stephen King story come to life as we did!