He is the man behind Popsy Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Max Richter: I’m a recent graduate from DePaul University in Chicago. I got my degree in film producing and am looking to move to Los Angeles in the next few months to continue my career there. Although my degree isn’t focused on anything in particular, in my time at college I’ve found myself more often than not at least doing the Directing or Cinematography for the work I’m involved in, if not both.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Max Richter: I’ve loved movies ever since I was a little kid. I definitely grew up in a family that gave me a much greater appreciation for what film can be than I think most kids are privileged with and I’ve been obsessed with the idea of creating my own movies for probably more than half my life.
SKSM: When did you make Popsy? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Max Richter: We first began the early stages of pre-production about a year ago, which involved choosing the story, planning the shoot, creating a budget, and casting, all of which took us about three months from start to finish. The actual shoot was one full fourteen hour day and two half-days of less than six hours. We had a desired budget of $8,000, however we decided that we could still make it work with as little as $2,000 if we made serious cuts to the story. We ended up making about $4,900 on IndieGoGo, which was enough to make the project fairly accurate to our original ideas, but unfortunately we had to cut and change some locations because we simply couldn’t afford them. The post production process took significantly longer than we would have liked however, due to some changes in our post-production crew, and myself moving out of state for three months for school, but we finally got it finished completely in early June and we’re happy with how it’s turned out.
SKSM: How come you picked Popsy to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Max Richter: Our Producer and I read through all of the stories that are available for the Dollar Babies program and then narrowed it down between a few that we really wanted to adapt. From there it was mostly a matter of practicality; which story did we think we could most reasonably adapt given that we are going to be working with a very small budget? Popsy was the natural cross-section of feasibility and our own personal desires. Plus, I like vampires a lot.
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?
Max Richter: I began reading King’s work avidly back in spring of 2017, and while I was browsing a forum for fans of his stories, I found a thread talking about the Dollar Baby program. I was honestly completely dumbfounded that such an amazing program could be real. It didn’t seem possible that such a great opportunity could be missed by so many other students. I still haven’t met anyone in film school who knew about this program before hearing about our work on Popsy.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Max Richter: Not a particular moment, but I just wanted to give special thanks to one of crew members, Noah Sliwa. He was a friend of our Producer’s, and while he’s not actually involved in the film industry at all, he just wanted to help out on set because he likes movies a lot. I didn’t know exactly what to expect out of him but he unbelievably helpful for us, and I genuinely don’t know that we would have been able to make the movie turn out as well as it did without him. If every set was full of Noah’s then every movie would be great. Or at least better.
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?
Max Richter: As part of the stipulations for the Dollar Babies contract, the film is not allowed to be listed online publicly in its entirely. Only 2 minutes of footage can be shown at most. As a result We’ve had to keep the film hidden behind a password-protected link, which is unfortunate for all the people who may want to see it, but I do understand the importance of King protecting his properties. What he is doing already is far beyond what most writers would ever dream of doing I think. Hopefully one day we can show it to everyone. I’d love to see all the other Dollar Babies films out there as well.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Max Richter: Everyone at home who donated seems very happy with it from what I can tell. I’m hoping it stays that way!
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Max Richter: We’re hoping to get into some, but no, there aren’t any particular festivals we have in mind. We’re still in the early stages of submitting it, we just want to keep our options open and expectations realistic.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Max Richter: Absolutely! I’ve read nearly twenty of his books in 2017 alone. So far I’d have to say that 11/22/63 is my favorite single novel of his, however nothing can beat the Dark Tower series for me.
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)?
Max Richter: Only insofar as securing the contract. I actually just sent a DVD of the finished film to his estate a day ago, so I’m hoping we’ll get to hear his thoughts on it personally!
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?
Max Richter: If I could pick any story without limitations, I would definitely do a multi-season TV show adaptation of the Dark Tower, but it looks like Amazon may have beaten me to the punch in that regard.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Max Richter: My Producer and I are in the process of finishing another sci-fi short film called Eyes for Only You that you can find on my Vimeo page pretty soon. We’d like to collaborate on one or two more projects over the summer before I move out to Los Angeles, but really we have no concrete plans as of now.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Max Richter: I hate the color green with a passion.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Max Richter: I want to thank all of you for supporting publications like this with your viewership and being such a positive and amazing community!