He is the man behind The Woman In The Room Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with thellin me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Dave Brock: My name’s Dave Brock and I’m currently a Professor at West Virginia State University in Charleston, WV, USA. I’ve taught Film Production, Screenwriting, and pretty much anything else they assign me. This fall, I’ll be teaching English Composition.
SKSM: When did you make The woman in the room? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Dave Brock: We made THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM in the Spring of 2016. I actually created a class in which students received course credit for working on it. We set a bit of a challenge for ourselves in that we wanted to see if we could do EVERYTHING within a standard, 16-week semester (fundraising, scheduling, shooting, etc.) so that we could involve the students in as much of the process as possible. I wrote the script in the fall of 2015, and my class dealt with the producing aspects of the film in the spring. I was the primary director, but I later included my colleague Roger Echols as a Co-Director since I worked closely with his Filmmaking class, and since he was instrumental in the post-production process; Roger and his students dealt with the hands-on technical aspects of the film. It was a very unique collaboration and there were times when I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to pull everything off within the span of a single semester, but it all worked out. I had to push post-production back by a few months for personal reasons, but we cranked it over the past few months and had our Preview Screening a few weeks ago (April 2017).
We shot the film over two weekends, for a total of $900. Since we shot everything on campus using departmental equipment and resources, our costs were very low. Over half the money went toward craft services and food! Once we started on post-production, we edited it in about three weeks. The students who worked on it were absolutely incredible. They were among the most hard-working and professional individuals that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
SKSM: How come you picked The woman in the room to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Dave Brock: The Communications Department at my University has a long history of departmental filmmaking, in which faculty create projects with student participation. We were very keen on starting the process up again, and I thought it would be fitting to go back to the Dollar Baby that started it all, which was Frank Darabont’s THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM. Not that I thought I could top him or anything like that; I thought it was just an appropriate way to honor two traditions at once.
As for my personal connection to the story, it’s a situation that I’m not unfamiliar with. It resonated on a number of levels, but I was primarily attracted to it because I’ve never directed a dramatic piece before, so it was a challenge in some ways to see if I could do it.
SKSM: I guess you have seen Frank Darabont’s The woman in the room. Accordint to Stephen King is one of the better Dollar Babies until now. Do you afraid your film to be compared with Frank Darabont’s version?
Dave Brock: Well, there’s always that fear of comparison, I suppose. As I mentioned, I didn’t set out to try to top Mr. Darabont, because I’m not delusional enough to think that I could; his version was amazing, and it’s pretty obvious why Stephen King holds it in such high regard. I hope that anyone watching my film can appreciate it for what it is, and judge it on its own merits. Given the prominence (and visibility) of Mr. Darabont’s version – coupled with the fact that his film is what started the whole Dollar Baby enterprise – I suppose some comparison is inevitable. I rest easy knowing that he’s a far better filmmaker than I’ll ever hope to be, so it doesn’t bother me if comparisons are made!
SKSM: This is your second Dollar Baby adaptation. Was it easier for you to shot this adaptation or was the process similiar to The road virus heads north?
Dave Brock: Technically-speaking, this was actually a bit easier to shoot than ROAD VIRUS, but I think it was because we shot THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM on digital, whereas ROAD VIRUS was shot entirely on film. Because we shot this one digitally, we didn’t have nearly as much equipment as we did with ROAD VIRUS, which allowed us to move pretty quickly. The amount of time between setups was super-quick; we were averaging around 20-30 setups a day, if not more.
Emotionally-speaking, this was much harder than ROAD VIRUS, because first and foremost THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM is a drama. I actually had people back out of participating in the making of it because the subject matter hit a little too close to home. I think my biggest challenge was trying to maintain the drama without pushing it into soap opera territory, which, I’ve discovered, is a VERY fine line. Maintaining an appropriate tone was critical, so I made sure to prepare as much as possible, and that included extensive rehearsals with the actors beforehand. I also was very lucky to be able to collaborate with composer Stephen Kaminski, who is the most brilliant musician I’ve ever met. He immediately got what I was trying to do, then took off with it. He instinctively knows how music works in a film, and he crafts his scores in a way that supports the characters and the story above all else. He really dialed into the movie emotionally and I think his music really elevated it to the next level. I’m still listening to the cues that he sent me throughout the post-production process!
SKSM: A few years ago you were going to film The library policeman, why didn’t the proyect materialize?
Dave Brock: HA! I knew you were going to ask me about that. THE LIBRARY POLICEMAN has been the source of some frustration for me, mainly because I’ve been having a hard time cracking the visual story. As you know, there are certain challenges that come with trying to adapt any story, and one of the things that Stephen King does so well is that he’s able to tap into the mindscape of all of his characters, which is what makes them leap off the page. The difficulty in adapting some of his work is that, with film, you can only write what you can see and hear, and for some reason THE LIBRARY POLICEMAN has posed some unique challenges in that regard, mainly because the main character’s journey is rooted in a childhood trauma that is challenging in terms of how to appropriately visualize it. Also, there are a lot of visual cues throughout the story that are connected to that trauma, all of which serve as foreshadowing for the final confrontation with Ardelia, but figuring out how to lay the narrative groundwork for all of that has been problematic. That being said, I *think* I’ve got it worked out now (I’ve been working on this for years, as you know), and I very much hope to shoot it at some point in the near future. Thanks for your continued patience (and for yours as well, Bernd Lautenslager, and Danny Paap, and Ari Racing…) as I work on it, by the way. 😊
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Dave Brock: Well, as you know, THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM is a pretty heavy story, and I really felt for my primary actors (especially Wally Dempsey, who played the lead) because they were just living in this heightened emotional state from one scene to the next. We tried to inject some levity where we could, but on one particular day, we found ourselves having to end shooting a bit early because of a very loud campus event that was happening right next door. None of us were ready to head home, so after lunch, we went back to the location to do some pick-up shots. In the course of doing that, I thought out loud, “You know, we should really make this a musical. Nobody would expect that.” I thought it was obvious that I was joking, but then I noticed that a few people were taking me seriously. Long story short: We shot a musical number, and we had a blast doing it. It’s not in the film, of course, but it’ll be on the DVD. 😊
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Dave Brock: We’ve only had the one preview screening in April 2017, but I’m proud to say that we received a standing ovation at the end of it. I was almost in tears because I knew how hard everybody worked on the film (especially the students), and as difficult as the process was at times, it just validated everything. I’m looking forward to hearing what others think of it, even if they don’t like it for whatever reason. I’ve lived with the movie for the past year, so I’m naturally going to be my worst critic regardless. But I hope people enjoy it.
SKSM: What are you working at nowadays?
Dave Brock: I’m working on the script for another Dollar Baby that I’d like to shoot within the next year (sadly, it’s not THE LIBRARY POLICEMAN, but soon! I promise! 😊), so you’ll be among the first to know when I get the rights to it. I could spend the rest of my life making Dollar Babies and die a very happy man.
SKSM: Have you got another projects you to tell our readers?
Dave Brock: I’m also in the process of writing another horror short screenplay that may or may not get made in early 2018. Aside from that, I’m enjoying teaching more than ever.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Dave Brock: A HUGE, heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who takes the time to watch a Dollar Baby, a great big THANK YOU to all of my Dollar Baby colleagues out there who are burning up Film Festivals with their work, and THANK YOU, Oscar, for keeping this site going and for your undying devotion to all things Stephen King!!! This was a pleasure. Thanks for the interview.
SKSM: Would you like to add something?
Dave Brock: Can’t wait for DARK TOWER and IT. Counting the days.