He is the man behind The Man Who Loved Flowers Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Thomas Magnuson: I am slightly obsessed with movies, which has led me to pursue a career in writing and directing my own. I grew up in Austin, TX and am currently living in Los Angeles.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Thomas Magnuson: Since I could first speak I’ve always wanted to tell stories. At first I gravitated towards writing books, but once I was given a cheap camcorder, it was all over. I think the moment I knew I wanted to make movies was after my first day of high school when my film teacher showed the class David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Before then I had never considered film to be such a diverse art form.
SKSM: When did you make The man who loved flowers? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Thomas Magnuson: I made the film during my senior year of high school. In total it was about five months of work. I was able to raise $1,250 on Kickstarter. That money helped me hire professional (and fantastic) actors, build realistic props, and submit the film to a variety of film festivals. It was certainly the biggest production I’d ever directed, and every step of the way was one valuable lesson after the next. Most importantly, it was a wonderful couple of months of working with my friends to bring this story alive.
SKSM: How come you picked The man who loved flowers to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Thomas Magnuson: It was such a joy to read through all of Stephen King’s short stories and visualize each page. The Man Who Loved Flowers jumped out to me with its initial simplicity. It was just a charming scene of a spring afternoon, and a man in love. Something in between the romantic language smelled ominous, which made the ending twist nothing but satisfying. I knew the second I finished it that there was an entire goldmine to film. I wanted to capture that blurry line between love and insanity.
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?
Thomas Magnuson: Stephen King visited my hometown of Austin, Texas and was told that my high school had a budding film program. His assistant reached out to my film teacher and invited him to pick a student to take on a Dollar Baby project. I had no idea that Stephen King had this program set up for student filmmakers at the time, and it definitely blew my mind when my teacher asked me to make one. I had to borrow a dollar from a friend to send to Stephen King. I should probably pay him back.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Thomas Magnuson: Getting to know the actors and working with them on set was such an amazing time. David Lee Hess (who played “Love”), after getting some blood makeup on his face, got a pretty big kick out of scaring the crew. This was always entertaining to watch.
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?
Thomas Magnuson: It’s definitely a shame that I can’t share my film to the public, but the way I see it, the film was an educational experience, and I’m glad that I get to show it to friends and family, and feel proud of what was made.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Thomas Magnuson: Most criticisms – including my greatest criticism – about the film were the sound issues. My high school didn’t have the best sound equipment, and my knowledge of capturing, editing, and mixing sound was very limited at the time. One thing this film taught me was the importance of sound. It can really make or break your movie.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Thomas Magnuson: I was fortunate enough to get the film accepted into the Bonita Springs International Film Festival, where it screened two years ago. Most recently, the film screened in a Dollar Baby Film Festival in Argentina. As of now I do not have any more plans to screen the short.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Thomas Magnuson: I am most definitely a fan. As I’m typing this I’m watching Shawshank Redemption, which is definitely one of my favorite adaptations. I enjoy his short stories because they’re to the point and visually striking. That’s what makes his Dollar Baby program so valuable: there’s some great source material to choose from.
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)?
Thomas Magnuson: Unfortunately I never had any personal contact with Stephen King, and I’m not sure if he ever watched the film. It would be cool if he did I suppose.
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?
Thomas Magnuson: I do not, but maybe someday in the future I’ll have another opportunity to adapt one of his stories. While searching for my first one, I came across one called A Very Tight Place. I really liked the deadly rivalry between two rich old people, and the claustrophobia that consumes a majority of the story. It would be pretty tough to film.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Thomas Magnuson: As of now I’m mostly writing and directing smaller low-to-no budget short films, and trying to save up for something bigger. I’m very fortunate to be living in a city where I’m surrounded by film, and people who are just as passionate about making it as I am.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Thomas Magnuson: I studied classical guitar for fifteen years and won several awards in the state of Texas for performance.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Thomas Magnuson: Thank you for your interest in my film, whether you’ve seen it or not. It was such an amazing experience, and I’m so happy I get to share the memory. The actors, David Lee Hess (Love), Tiana Stewart (Norma), and Tom Swift (flower vendor) were so shockingly good at their craft. They made my job look easy! I hope to continue to make movies and work with talented friends.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Thomas Magnuson: Have a great day!