He is the man behind Šedá Hmota Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Erik Richard H: Hi, my name is Erik Richard and I’m a… video-maker. I’ve studied film, I teach film, I’ve screened films, wrote about films and I make films – or audiovisual works in general. As a writer, director, editor, production assistant – what ever is needed for a particular project.
SKSM: When did you make Šedá hmota? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Erik Richard H: Šedá hmota, a.k.a. Gray Matter, was my final Masters project and… it’s still in post-production since early 2016. It had a complicated production, since I had new crew, new actors.. and I like to always try something new, set myself unique challenges. In this case I decided to make a horror film that would rely on lighting, physical special effects and would follow the script precisely. You know, before, I trained myself in shooting, I’d say, fluidly – using as few lighting sources as possible, taking just light equipment, improvising and using non-actors, often changing whole scenes on set. This filming itself took altogether a week, it cost around 50000 CZK, which is around 2000 dollars, I think and except for one major case the cast was all professional actors and setting a set often took two hours. But in the end I think we got a solid material – working well on the level of aesthetics, mood and enjoyable storytelling and now there are a few adjustments that need to be done on the opening, ending credits, music and a few visuals and finally, we will start submitting to film festivals. That should be by the end of December.
SKSM: How come you picked Gray matter to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Erik Richard H: Well, I’ve always definitely wanted to make a King adaptation, The Monkey, especially. And when it was the last year of my studies, I decided to enjoy it and so I asked my brother, Jakub Sivan, with whom I work on films, whether he’d be interested in making a King movie. Him, as also a huge fan of King’s works, agreed and then we agreed on adapting Gray Matter. It felt like the most convenient pick, on one hand considering the limits of student filmmaking and on the other it was what we loved – a physical creepy tale from the countryside with all the trashy moments and weird characters.. you know, we both grew up mainly in the countryside – plus it, the story, we felt had a perfectly actual message: a violent power that comes from the countryside, its people and its beer, to spread destruction all over – just like the movement of white power is strenghtening again across the countries, not just Czech republic and Europe.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wikd guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Erik Richard H: I think it must’ve been mentioned in some King’s introduction to one of his books. I just knew it from my childhood and already at high school I googled the Dollar Babies webpages, looking at the forms and requirements.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Erik Richard H: From my experience, shooting a film is always about memorable moments and this was no different. What was shocking and sad, for example, was how pretty much all the locations disappeared after the film was shot – two houses that served as the main antagonist’s house changed, one – which was in fact our house – changed the owner and the other went through reconstruction so you can’t see the places anymore. The saddest was the case of one of two pubs, that stood in for the pub from the story – after the shoot, the place was robbed entirely. The owner had to close the spot then, as it was just a place for a few last loyal customers, without enough money and profit to buy all the things again. The least we could do, the film is dedicated to him.
But from the bright side – during the time we were making our adaptation, the other one, the first Czech King adaptation by Robin Kasparik was being finished and so our crew, we took it sort of as a challenge. We were monitoring all the news from their side and told each other unofficial news that somebody got from different sets, as people meet and the nerd gossip spreads around. And all of that challenged us to do the best we could. The story ends with a funny coincidence – I’ve met the director and the cinematographer of I Am the Doorway, the other King film, when they wanted to test the film before its premiere at Prague Shorts – you know, at the time I worked as a projectionist at a cinema and so it was a great coincidence, that I got the chance to see the challenging film and also to chat with the director abou making dollar babies, alternative horrors.. and it was also great push to get serious with the post-production, as I got some pretty good tips and – I Am the Doorway was stunning.
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 internet/dvd release would be possible?
Erik Richard H: I don’t know now. Of course I’d be happy to share the film with broader audience through internet for example. But I don’t know what are the options now. After a proper festival tour I will definitely request the option – and we’ll see.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Erik Richard H: Yet just a preview was screened at my Masters screening, at the academy. There the reactions were completely mixed. Some hated the film for its non-traditional narrative, framing and mixture of genres, but some praised it for being atmospheric and highly popcultural fun ride.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Erik Richard H: I will just see, what’s up. Horror film festivals interest me the most though, for their dedicated audience.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Erik Richard H: Definitely yes. I grew up reading all his short stories and the Shining and It.. lots of memories connected to that. However the most I admire his book On Writing and all the introductions, notes – where he just writes personally, sharing his insights and jokes.
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)?
Erik Richard H: No contact so far. All the contact I had was with the agency – though I’d obviously be interested in King’s feedback. Maybe he’d get a chance to see the film. Who knows?
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?
Erik Richard H: As I said earlier, I would love to adapt the Monkey one day…
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Erik Richard H: There’s maybe too much going on now with me. I just finished my last shows for a Czech television called Tuty and started working as a Junior Producer for a post-production company. Outside of that I also do freelance directing and editing of music videos and TV shows plus I’m gathering material for a feature lenght documentary and finishing script for a feature lenght fiction film, a contemporary teenage body horror.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Erik Richard H: Hm… I think not many people know that originally I wanted to be a scientist – Dr. Brown from Back to the Future being my role model thorought my childhood.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Erik Richard H: Are there really my fans? (haha) No, seriously, really big thanks to every one, who supports me, as well as other emerging creative people – every comment, message, view, etc. means a lot!