She is the woman behind The Boogeyman Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jenny Januszewski: I’m an American writer/director who was born in Vietnam. I live in Los Angeles, CA. USA. My degree is in Film/TV producing.
SKSM: When did you make The Boogeyman? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Jenny Januszewski: We shot The Boogeyman this past winter/spring. We finished principle photography right before our deadline. When I began filming, I was studying film at a city college in LA. About half of our crew and artistic team were comprised of students and the rest were professionals. My cinematographer, Sam Kim, and I have worked together on 5 projects now. Our last one won Best 3D Experimental Film at the 3D Film Festival in Los Angeles last year. He just got his graduate degree from AFI. Our three main actors (Lester, Rita, Harper) are all very active in the LA film and television scene. They’ve been on The Office, CSI, Mad Men, and other big shows. Our editor, Jason Mendoza, works at FX, which is part of FOX tv/film. To show the contrast of experience on this project, there was one day when our entire crew was comprised of a few high school students that were hoping to learn a bit.
If you include both actual fees paid out as well as in-kind services, the film cost just under $180,000 USD. Again, a good amount of that was in-kind services and we are very grateful for that.
How long did it take to film? Hmmm…I would say that, if you include reshoots and second unit, it probably took 10-14 days. A lot of our days were just ½ days because we were using natural lighting for a lot of the shots. All of the Lester/Harper scenes were shot in one weekend. We had to do it that way because we were borrowing a friend’s office space and also because the actor playing Harper was moving to London soon after.
SKSM: How come you picked The Boogeyman to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Jenny Januszewski: I chose The Boogeyman because it’s very reflective of what scared me as a child…that unknown thing that you never see but fear is in your closet or under your bed. When I wrote to Stephen King, I simply stated that I wanted to instill the same fear that I had into others. Also, the story offers a great deal of complexity. If you read it literal, it’s a monster in the closet. But you can also interpret that monster in the closet to actually be his own paranoia or a growing psychosis.
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?
Jenny Januszewski: My film teacher mentioned it. That evening, he went down a list of affordable ways to create a film. The two that stood out to me was that Moby allows you to use some of his music for free. The other was Stephen King’s Dollar Baby. I had also heard Frank Darabont’s story.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Jenny Januszewski: I’ll go for the “special moment.” I’d have to say that, overall, it was just creating something with good friends. Two of the people involved traveled to Michigan with me for a few exterior shots. It was great having them stay at my parents’ home. When you’re a director, people usually keep a certain distance so you don’t see their flaws or see that they are human and might make mistakes on set. But I really enjoy the special bond you get when filming. Traveling together was the icing on the cake.
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?
Jenny Januszewski: Well, I’m open to whatever Mr. King would allow. Obviously, the big dream would be for Mr. King to watch it and say, “Hey! Let’s work together!” Well, a filmmaker can dream, right? ? I’m very proud of this piece and would be honored to have King fans see it. We’re entering it in as many festivals as we can in hopes to offer opportunities to see it. I’ve corresponded with the other director who chose to do an adaptation of the same story. Our interpretations are extremely different and it would just be a great treat for King fans to get to enjoy both someday. However, I’ll always respect that being able to adapt one of his stories is a gift and will honor that I can’t show it (outside of festivals and in hopes to get work from employers) without 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)?
Jenny Januszewski: I haven’t had any contact with him and we’ve not sent our copy in yet. But I think we’ll make him proud. When I was writing it, I had the opportunity to go one way, which was to make it a horror story about a man who is being stalked by the Boogeyman. Or, I could go the other way, which was to make it a psychological thriller with an indie film feel that focuses on the fact that this was a very “normal” person dealing with the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the death of his children. I chose the latter.
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?
Jenny Januszewski: I really enjoyed this experience and would definitely do it again. However, depending on his response to this piece, I may ask permission to do something larger.
If I could choose one story to shoot, which one would it be? Hmmm…I definitely would love to shoot a full out feature of The Boogeyman based on the short film we made. It was actually shot as a feature but I cut it down to a short.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Jenny Januszewski: That I hope each and every one of you get a chance to see our film. My website is www.JennyJanuszewski.com . The temporary trailer is on there, which looks a bit more like horror filmmaking. However, by the time this interview is published in the spring, the updated one will be there and it will be more accurate to the true style of the piece.