He is the man behind Big Driver Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Ian Wolfley: My name is Ian Wolfley, I am an independent filmmaker living and working in San Francisco.
SKSM: When did you make Big driver? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Ian Wolfley: I started making ‘Big Driver’ two years ago. I read the story sometime in September 2012 and got the Dollar Baby contract almost immediately after. I stayed up all night reading the story; it was so suspenseful and entertaining. I started writing the script, which took a few months, until December. January through March 2013, we assembled our key crew members and cast. April through June we were in pre-production. I felt very lucky to be a part of a team of very talented people who worked very hard on creating all the details of this story. We shot for 8 days total, in two sets of 4-day shoots. That’s exactly how long we could shoot due to a number of factors: camera rental, insurance, actor’s schedules. As you know, the dollar baby contact only gives you the rights for one year, so we felt in a constant rush because it’s such a big story to try to distill into a short.
SKSM: How come you picked Big driver to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Ian Wolfley: The primary thing that attracted me to the story was that it is so intensely suspenseful. Part of what made it so suspenseful and original, was that King is deliberately playing with your expectations of what will happen. Tess is not the beautiful blonde bombshell you would expect to be the center of a rape revenge story; part of the shock of the story comes in that she is subject to this terror that is traditionally shown in movies as happening to young, pretty women. That is the first real clue that the story is about our expectations of women in stories, particularly horror stories. Tess thinks bout films she’s seen and books she’s read throughout the story, and nothing she does turns out the way you would expect. What should be very difficult—gathering evidence and clues to link Lester, Big Driver, and Ramona—is done with no trouble whatsoever. Then, the thing no one would think could be difficult—driving up the driveway—becomes an absolute nightmare. Tess’s and the other female characters behavior and actions are entirely unique and real, as opposed to relying on any tropes and clichés expected from stories of this nature.
SKSM: Are you Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Ian Wolfley: I have been a Constant Reader ever since I could read. One of the first novels I ever tackled as an 8-year-old was ‘Salem’s Lot. That remains one of my favorites, which I re-read every few years. ‘The Shining’ is also on that list. ‘Skeleton Crew,’ ‘It,’ ‘The Green Mile,’ ‘Rose Madder,’ and what I believe is his best book, and my personal favorite, is definitely ‘Lisey’s Story.’
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?
Ian Wolfley: I remember reading an article about Mr King, it was an interview I think, in which he discussed that he sells the non-exclusive, non-commercial rights to his stories for a dollar to budding filmmakers. Or maybe he mentions it in the Foreword to a book? I can’t exactly recall, but I feel like I always knew he did that. However, it never occurred to me to take advantage of it until the morning after I finished ‘Big Driver.’ I couldn’t stop thinking about the story, how clever it was, how much fun it would be to see as a movie. I also thought no one would ever make a movie version, so I thought, at least I can take a stab at it.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Ian Wolfley: We had a great time making the movie; at least, I did, and I think everyone else did too. There were animals involved, as you see in the film, and that can end up being both a blessing and a nightmare. It’s always pleasant to have animals around, but when you need them to do a job, they’re not necessarily so inclined to cooperate. I mean there’s a saying, “Like trying to herd cats.” Hell, try to get one cat to go where you want, it’s impossible.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Ian Wolfley: We are preparing the film to submit to festivals and we hope for the best.
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?
Ian Wolfley: If that bothered me, I likely wouldn’t have pursued the contract and made the film. I think the Dollar Baby contract gives filmmakers a great opportunity, but not every opportunity they may want in making a short film. I wanted the experience of adapting King’s work, the experience of adaptation itself, to mount the largest production I’ve done up to this point (and one that, with King’s name attached, people who are also honing their skills would feel more compelled to contribute their best).
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
Ian Wolfley: I haven’t really shown it to any people not involved yet. We’ll see whether it’s received well or not.
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)?
Ian Wolfley: No, none. We sent in the DVD required by the contract,. Who know if he’ll ever watch it. I hope so.
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?
Ian Wolfley: I don’t think I’d do another Dollar Baby; at least not one as big and complex as ‘Big Driver.’ If I could adapt any work of King’s, undoubtedly, it would be ‘Lisey’s Story.’
SKSM: What are you working at nowadays?
Ian Wolfley: After making several short films, I’m going to attempt my first feature next year. I’m working on the script now. It’s a story set in San Francisco about some people battling over an apartment—very topical for the changes happening to San Francisco and the Bay Area at the moment.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Ian Wolfley: I’m not sure I have fans yet, but thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about the process a bit. And for organizing a festival and opportunity for these works to be shown.