He is the man behind Mute Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Michael Carvaines: I am a writer, director, and producer with a passion for feature narrative films. I am now pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film Production at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to that I lived in Los Angeles, where I worked for such companies as DreamWorks and New Line Cinema creating marketing and advertising campaigns for nearly 100 feature films.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Michael Carvaines: I have chased the dream for nearly 20 years. It became an obsession after I wrote my first screenplay and produced my first independent film. The entire process is a joy that remains a thrill no matter the size or scope of the production.
SKSM: When did you make Mute? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Michael Carvaines: Mute was produced in the Fall of 2016 with editing completed in the Spring of 2017. It was a class assignment for my production course, where the class of 15 Graduate Students all participated in every crew position. Each student contributed $120.00, giving us a total budget of $1,800. The production lasted 4 days, with a couple extra reshoot dates.
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Michael Carvaines: Mute was chosen out of nearly 50 short stories written by Stephen King. As a class assignment, each student read 3 stories and presented them to the class. We then voted on the best story to produce. Mute had the best balance of suspense and mystery, yet also feasible for a class to shoot on a limited budget. Personally, I was drawn to the unreliable narrator and potential to mislead the audience in a suspenseful 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 wikd guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Michael Carvaines: Our Professor knew from the first day, and based the whole course around this deal. His intent was to give us a quality story already established in order for us to focus on developing our production technique.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Michael Carvaines: In adapting the story into a film, I added several sequences that are not in King’s text. One in particular involved showing Monette’s state of mind by illustrating a fantasy flashback. This is the hotel room scene showing his wife and Cowboy Bob where it rains down lottery tickets and women’s underwear. Not only did we have to buy many bras and panties, we then had to figure out a way to effectively make them “rain.” Needless to say this scene required more takes than any other.
Also, for the church scenes we built a large wooden confessional. I ended up keeping this confessional at my house for nearly a year. . . just in case we ever needed to shoot additional scenes. It’s the obsessive/fearful nature of filmmaking.
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?
Michael Carvaines: I actually don’t know the extent that audiences can view the movie. I’m not familiar with the legal fine print restricting our deal.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Michael Carvaines: I am now in the process of submitting the movie to various festivals across the United States and awaiting to be accepted for the American premiere.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Michael Carvaines: Yes, I’ve read his work throughout my whole life. It’s amazing, he’s the writer that never goes away. He was popular in my youth, and now is having a resurgence. I’ve read such works as The Shining, Doctor Sleep, Needful Things, The Green Mile, and Mr. Mercedes. And of course I’ve seen many movies. I highly recommend reading The Shining while staying in a hotel.
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)?
Michael Carvaines: I have had no contact with Mr. King. I am very curious to know if he’s seen it.
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?
Michael Carvaines: I would love to develop Mute into a feature. The characters are rich and the narrative threads can all be developed further. Building the suspense, keeping the audience guessing, and testing the narrator’s reliability. It can truly be a modern Hitchcockian experience.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Michael Carvaines: I am in pre-production on my Graduate Thesis Film entitled Magnolia Kane, which is a short suspense thriller in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, David Fincher, and yes Stephen King. I wrote the screenplay and will be Directing. We start filming in mid-January.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Michael Carvaines: If I wasn’t a filmmaker I would be a winemaker.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Michael Carvaines: I appreciate your support and hope you will continue to spread the word. Please keep an eye out for my future films and follow me on Instagram (@spectacleandtruth) and Twitter (@MicarPro). Thanks!