He is the man behind Night Surf Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: When did you make Night Surf? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Peter Sullivan: NIGHT SURF was produced in the spring of 2001. I had optioned the rights almost a half year earlier, but it took me a long time to raise the money and also to find the perfect location. Because of budget concerns, I knew I couldn’t afford to set the movie outside on a beach at night. but I wanted to find the perfect alternative. Since I couldn’t afford to relocate the production to the East Coast, I finally found a house in the central California town of Cambria that looked like a Maine cliff-top beach house.
Once we had the location, my producers and I cast the film and dove into shooting. We shot over the course of two weekends, with another weekend of pick-up shots a few months later. The budget was a couple thousand dollars. Not much by mainstream standards to be sure, but we were a bunch of broke film school grads.
SKSM: How come you picked Night Surf to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Peter Sullivan: I liked NIGHT SURF because it was contained and because it had a small cast. I also liked it because of the themes it involved. I’ve always been fascinated by stories like LORD OF THE FLIES, which explore the mankind’s primal nature. How will people behave when they’re put in a pressure cooker and stripped of the laws of society? I thought King’s story set that up perfectly. I was so intrigued by the set up that I went a step further and extended the story in the film beyond the point where the short story ended.
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?
Peter Sullivan: I’d heard about it in passing, but I went to a seminar where Frank Darabont was speaking, and he encouraged me to pursue my interest in doing a short film based on NIGHT SURF. I actually ran into him at a video store last year and thanked him for his encouragement.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Peter Sullivan: I’m not sure it’s so funny to the people that owned the location, but during a fight scene, our actors got a little carried away and one of them actually pushed the other THROUGH a dry wall in the hallway. We left the house with a perfect imprint of our actor preserved in the plaster for posterity. It was funny. I could hear the crunch, but I couldn’t see the indent on the monitor until I walked over to the scene of the crime.
We had another instance where we’d set up in the backyard for a shot and all of a sudden, the underground sprinkler system (which we didn’t know existed) turns on and douses our grip package in water.
That’s the fun thing about film shoots. they’re always unpredictable. I had a 30 lb dummy fall on my head in a previous film, so you never know what could happen.
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 video/dvd release would be possible?
Peter Sullivan: To be honest, I haven’t pursued an official video release, although I would certainly be interested in discussing it. I love the idea of the upcoming DOLLAR BABY FESTIVAL, and I think it would be terrific to be able to have a DVD compilation for fans to enjoy. If it wasn’t for video, I would have never seen the terrific WOMAN IN THE ROOM.
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)?
Peter Sullivan: I haven’t.
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?
Peter Sullivan: I don’t have any plans at the moment, but you never know. I have other ideas, but I’m not going to give them away just yet.
SKSM: What have you been doing since ‘NIGHT SURF‘?
Peter Sullivan: I actually sold my first script while I was in the middle of reshoots on “NIGHT SURF.” It was a horror movie about a mummy on a tropical island which, luckily, has never been produced. It was a piece of exploitative schlock horror that nonetheless helped get my foot in the door as a “professional” writer. After that debacle, I went on to option another horror film with a producer at Mandalay, and that script started me off writing films for television. My television credits include “TERROR PEAK” starring Lynda Carter and Parker Stevenson, “CAVE IN” starring Mimi Rogers and Ted Shackelford, and “FAULTLINE” starring Doug Savant from “Melrose Place.” This fall I have two more movies going into production: “EVE’S CHRISTMAS” starring Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) and Cheryl Ladd, and “BLIND INJUSTICE“, which I co-wrote with Jim Snider and C. Thomas Howell. I also recently directed my first feature, “GAME OVER,” which will be released on video next year.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Peter Sullivan: –