He is the man behind Gray Matter Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: May you introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you and what do you do?
Mark McFarlane: My name is Mark McFarlane, and I am a filmmaker, designer and artist based in Ayrshire, Scotland.
SKSM: How would you decide that shoot movies was your mission?
Mark McFarlane: I always loved films growing up, and I have an especially vivid memory of watching ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly‘ with my grandfather. Bizarrely, considering the types of films I love and make now, I was a very timid child and couldn’t watch horror films! Later, I worked in a variety of jobs, from security guard right up to being a graphic designer for a major UK retailer, but I was never satisfied with any of them. So at a crucial point I decided to pursue my long-standing dream of making films, and from the very first moment of sitting down for a production meeting I knew that making films was what I needed to do.
SKSM: Why Gray Matter was cancelled? Is it possible for Stephen King fans to see it in a future?
Mark McFarlane: Gray Matter was cancelled for a variety of reasons, cast and crew availability, location and equipment issues, but I think the main reason is the same for aspiring filmmakers everywhere – a lack of money! At that time crowdfunding platforms were still quite a new thing, so I although sites such as Kickstarter could have been a fantastic source of production budget for us, our relative inexperience with that type of funding led to us halting production. Fortunately we were able to move on with other projects such as my short film ‘Mara‘, which was created for the BBC3 series ‘The Fear‘ here in the UK, and also performed well at Dragon Con in Atlanta.
However, I am still passionate about telling the story of ‘Gray Matter‘, and I’m happy to announce that we are once again moving forward with the project. We are working on some exciting things right now, and we hope to make a bigger announcement in the very near future.
SKSM: Who would be involved into this project?
Mark McFarlane: As well as myself, my long-term writing collaborator and editor Jimmi Johnson, who edited the ‘Cabal Cut’ of ‘Clive Barker’s Night Breed‘, will be editing the film. It is being produced by two incredibly talented and enthusiastic people – Holly Madew and Danny Sullivan. Thay have been instrumental in resurrecting the project and ushering it to the stage we re currently at. We are currently looking at casting and filling other key roles, but we are firmly at the discussion stage regarding those.
SKSM: How come you picked Gray Matter to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Mark McFarlane: I picked ‘Gray Matter‘ because I find the characters so compelling, which I think is a universal trait amongst all of King’s stories. When I first read it, everyone was so vivid and clear in my mind. The best thing for me (and my adaptation) was that although the story is set in Maine, I could easily relate the charcters to people I knew growing up in my small hometown in Scotland. I loved the story, but I also fell in love with the idea of setting the story in Scotland yet changing almost nothing about the core story and characters, almost to prove that these characters are so wonderful an real that they work literaly anywhere in the world.
SKSM: Did you know that this story has already been filmed as Dollar Baby? Have you seen any of these adaptations? If so, what do you think about it?
Mark McFarlane: I did know that it had already been filmed. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to see the trailers for these adaptations. I’m a big fan of the Dollar Baby program and love that all these other filmmakers have been able to give their own unique take on such wonderful source material.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Mark McFarlane: I am a massive Stephen King fan! I love the ‘Dark Tower‘ series and was obsessed with it for years, but my all-time favourite story of his is ‘The Mist‘, and I absolutely adore Frank Darabont’s adaptation. I think it’s about as perfect an adaptation of a story as you can get. I also love the book ‘From A Buick 8‘, which I know is a bit of a divisive one, but I’d love to take a crack at adapting it for film one day!
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1?
Mark McFarlane: I became aware of the Dollar Baby scheme after watching a documentary about Frank Darabont which briefly mentioned it. I did some research and once I found out how to go about it, I made it my goal to adapt a Stephen King story. It’s taken a lot longer than I’d hoped!
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Mark McFarlane: I’ve been suffering some long term health issues which have forced me to ease my workload with regards to filmmaking, which has allowed me to re-embrace my art and design skills. I’ve recently completed several paintings, including one for ‘The Walking Dead UK‘ and a large piece featuring some charactrs from ‘Twin Peaks‘. I also created a map of Mid-World from the ‘Dark Tower‘ series which has been well received on my RedBubble store. I like to stay creative whenever I can, and my partners and I still have a variety of film scripts ready for future development.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Mark McFarlane: I don’t know! I think maybe people will be surprised that I’m still around, still trying to make ‘Gray Matter‘, and haven’t given up after all these years!
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Mark McFarlane: I’d like to thank your readers for their continued interest and support of all us Dollar Baby filmmmakers. It’s your passion for these stories that makes us want to make the very best adaptations we possibly can.
SKSM: Would you like to add something else to this interview?
Mark McFarlane: I’d like to personally thank you Óscar, for the work you do keeping everyone informed about Dollar Babies, and your kind, gracious attitude towards us. It’s been a pleasure talking to you!