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He is the second man behind The Last Rung On The Ladder  Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Dan Thron: I currently live in Boston, and make movies primarily for the videogame business, doing the ads and ‘cutscenes’– the (usually animated) cinematics that advance the story between levels of gameplay. I did the movies for Eidos’ ‘Thief’ series for PC and Playstation, as well as work for ‘Neverwinter Nights’ (a Dungeons and Dragons license) and many others.

For the past 4 of those years, I’ve co-owned and ran an animation and effects company called Rustmonkey (www.rustmonkey.com), with the aim of making features.

SKSM: How did you become involved with The Last Rung on the Ladder?

Dan Thron: Jim and I went to high school together in Chatham, Massachusetts, and were on the same bus. We’re both serious geeks (though Jim was much, much cooler than me — you can ask him, I was a bit more of a Napoleon Dynamite character), so it wasn’t long before we became good friends, talking about Star Wars, Aliens, etc. But unlike all my other friends, who mainly wanted to talk about how great it was to WATCH these movies, he was the only other person I knew who was as interested in the MAKING of them as I was.

Jim had already made a couple of very funny short films, and I believe he lent me the copy of King’s ‘Night Shift’ collection that started the ball rolling, and suggested we do write to King.

SKSM: How did you get started as a (co-)director and what do you do on a production?

Dan Thron: There’s a lot of good stuff in Night Shift, but Last Rung was a natural for us, as not only was it a non-effects based production — so that it was within our budget and technical abilities — but it was also a good mix of Jim’s and my skills in storytelling.

Jim is an excellent character director, and I’m very visually oriented. And using Jim’s wonderful adaptation as a base, I think we found the division of work quite easy — I could focus on telling the story from a visual standpoint, and he could bring his vision to the actors, and take time to draw the gentle performance he wanted from them. We complimented each other very, very well I think.

SKSM: You worked with James Cole on this film, how was that?

Dan Thron: Jim is one of the most talented folks I know. I was amazed then, and continue to be amazed now at his process; He’s patient and straightforeward; he communicates at a very real, very emotional level, and it’s impossible not to be affected by his deep sense of empathy, whether in his writing or in his direction. In Last Rung, he treated the kids with incredible respect and trust, and the naturalism is evident on the screen. Likewise, he was very understanding of what I wanted to do with the camera. His confidence in everyone kept the set very peaceful and fun. A real pleasure; I learned a lot from watching him work.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Dan Thron: There is a running gag in all the outtakes from the film where Glen Whelden, brother of Melissa, who played Kitty, would run into frame and yell in a fake-old-man voice, “excuse me, is this the way to the Indian trading post?” and everyone would double over. I cannot for the life of me remember why that was so funny to us then, but there it is. 🙂

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?

Dan Thron: I would love to work on another King piece; certainly there are some movies I’d like to remake — I’m convinced Firestarter would be beautiful if done right. But of the shorts, I really can’t believe no one’s tackled ‘The Long Walk’ — I’d love to take a shot at that.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Dan Thron: Thanks very much!

He is the man behind The Last Rung On The Ladder Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

James Cole: Who am I? Hmmm. Well, I’m just a guy who grew up loving movies. And so for the past fourteen years I’ve lived in Los Angeles pursuing a career writing for film and television. I actually wrote stories when I was very young and I made my first short Super-8 film when I was in fifth grade. It was a combination of live action and animation and took an entire school year to shoot and edit, and it even got shown as part of the school district’s film festival. So at eleven years old I sat with an audience of my peers and experienced the joy of applause and laughter in all the right places, and from that day forward I was hooked. I’ve been making films and writing ever since.

SKSM: When did you make The Last Rung on the Ladder? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

James Cole: “The Last Rung on the Ladder” was film almost 19 years ago (gasp!). It was shot on Super-8 in the summer of 1986 on Cape Cod, co-directed with my friend Dan Thron. We were all young and pretty inexperienced – I was twenty and Dan was only fifteen, and our leads, Adam and Melisa, were thirteen and eleven. Dan and I had loved the short story and we were crazy enough to think we might be able to film it, despite having no crew and almost no budget. Our equipment was literally nothing more than two sound Super-8 cameras and two hand-held lights. And yet somehow we pulled it off. We shot for about ten days (spread out during the summer) and then it took me almost another year to complete the editing and post production. But it was an amazing experience and the kids were great.

I think what makes me most proud of the final film is how good it is despite our lack of budget and equipment. (The final budget was somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000.) Sure, it’s rough in places and there are things I always will wish I could have done better, but some of the solutions we came up with were ingenious. For instance, there’s the shot at the end of the childhood sequence (the bulk of the movie) when Larry leaves the bedroom with his father and Kitty gives him a look of sympathy (because he’s gonna get punished for letting Kitty get hurt). Well, I knew I wanted to freeze the shot, then to fade out so we could segue back into the present (wraparound) sequence with older Larry, but how to do it? Freeze frames and dissolves are all done in post production with an optical printer (or today, with computers and digital effects), but all I had as the editor was the raw footage of Kitty’s face, which certainly did not “freeze” on cue. So I actually had to “film the film.” I ran the footage through the projector, which was projected onto a wall, and I aimed the Super-8 camera at the image and filmed it all over again. Except, as I filmed, I stopped the projector, freezing the frame at the right moment, then turned down the exposure meter on the camera very…slowly… It wasn’t perfect – even in the final film you can see the brightness of the shot flicker and dim when the frame freezes, but still, I got the shot, even if it was in the most primitive way imaginable.

SKSM: How come you picked The Last Rung on the Ladder to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

James Cole: It was a very emotional story. Dan and I both loved Stephen King, even though in 1986 I hadn’t read all of King’s books (that he’d written up to that point). But “Night Shift” was one of the first books I did read, and I remember being so surprised when I started reading “Last Rung.” It wasn’t a horror story – unless you consider the true life horrors the story depicts (e.g. suicide, loneliness, the way Larry and Kitty’s relationship falls apart as they grow up). But it wasn’t “Monster Horror” in the sense that “Children of the Corn” (the story that immediately precedes it) is. It was just a small story of a brother and sister, and the sense of time and place was so strong – the farm, the barn, the era, that I could just see it as a movie. Most of all, the tragic ending just broke me up. It is one of the saddest stories King has ever written.

So Dan and I loved the story, but what made us consider it was when we “found” our first lead. Adam Houhoulis was in junior high at the time I was a senior, but I went to such a small school that the junior high kids weren’t separate from the high school and Adam and Dan and I all were friends. And Dan and I realized how “right” Adam was for the part of Larry, and then, when I remembered one of my other friends had a little sister who was also perfect as Kitty, we had our cast. That, more than anything, pushed us into making the movie – forget the other logistics like budget and technical problems, let alone finding an actual barn we could use!

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?

James Cole: I knew about the “Dollar Deal” through some of my King contacts, but I really don’t remember how I found out specifically or who told me. I just knew that I didn’t own the rights, didn’t even have an option, but figured such a small production wouldn’t bother him as long as I sent him the check for a dollar and the film, once it was finished. Most importantly, we never had any intention of trying to sell or exhibit the film without his permission. We just wanted to be able to make it and hope, in the end, that he might like it.

And by the way, King doesn’t sell the movie rights for $1. Movie rights, even or his short stories, can cost thousands of dollars. The dollar payment allows the filmmaker in question a one time deal to make the movie, so long as the rights and legal stuff is retained by King. That way he still basically “owns” the story, even if a film has been made.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

James Cole: Though it was so long ago, I do remember most of the filming pretty well. There weren’t any outrageous moments, and even the funny stuff (some of which we got on film and exists on a “blooper reel”) are too “inside” to be understood by any viewers. Most of it involved horseplay on the set and the kids being kids, rather than blown lines or mistakes. But it was a happy time.

The most detailed recollection of the production of “Last Rung” was previously published in “Castle Rock: The Stephen King Newsletter” in September, 1988. Of course the newsletter ceased publication the following year and I’m sure back issues are hard to find, but it was a great resource.

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 release would be possible?

James Cole: I’ve always wanted King fans to be able to see “Last Rung,” but I knew going into the project that it was not likely. It was more important to make it just to prove Dan and I COULD make it. Just to have a completed film for my portfolio, something of which I could be proud, is what mattered the most. Still, I’d like to think a video/DVD release would be possible. The fact that the first ever “Dollar Babies Film Festival” was shown at the University of Maine last September means there certainly is an interest. It was amazing seeing such a variety of King stories on screen; different genres and film formats and of course budgets. “Last Rung” was clearly the lowest budgeted of the films in question, but I think it looked great and was well received nevertheless.

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)?

James Cole: No. I’ve never spoken or received any correspondence from King, though I’ve written him from time to time over these last almost twenty years. I know he received the video we sent in late 1987, and almost a decade later I got the sense that he probably did see the film, because he mentioned it in his introduction to Frank Darabont’s “Shawshank Redemption: The Shooting Script” book. King listed the film as one that had been adapted from “Night Shift.” The fact that King even listed it makes me assume he’s seen it, and at least found it watch-able.

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?

James Cole: I have no plans to adapt any other King works until I’m established in the film business – something that I hope to happen soon. Without a feature film or television credit, you really have no clout, no position from which to bargain. But once I’m a paid and working writer, I think that will change. And when the time comes, there are definitely other King stories I would love to adapt. Two that come to mind are, “One for the Road” and “Grey Matter”, both from “Night Shift.”

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

James Cole: Just thanks, to both you and the fans. You have made it possible for “Last Rung” to be seen, and to those fans who have watched it, just know that I’m proud of the film…and I did the best I could with very limited resources!

Jim

He is the man behind Harvey’s Dream Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Andy Cambria: My name is Andy Cambria. I live in Brooklyn, NY, where I work with a writing partner, Nick Braccia (who co-wrote the screenplay for HARVEY’S DREAM with me.) We have several other feature projects in development and are currently working on a script for a producer in New York. Nick and I are very big horror fans, and are very influenced by Hitchcock, Brian DePalma, David Lynch, Joss Whedon…and countless other writers/filmmakers. I’ve been a fan of Mr. King’s work ever since I was a child. Growing up in suburban Massachusetts, many of the settings, characters, etc. he writes about were instantly accessible to me, and I related to the tone of his stories and his worldview instantly. I think King’s work is sort of a landmark in American suburban culture, and that’s why I’m attracted to it. (I loved the inclusion of the mother figure in DONNIE DARKO reading “It” on her patio.)

SKSM: When will you make Harvey’s Dream? Can you tell me a little about the production? And how long take it to film you think?

Andy Cambria: I hope to shoot HARVEY’S DREAM in the Spring of 2005. We’re currently raising money, and we have about 75% of the budget accounted for. Panavision NYC has generously agreed to donate a 35mm camera package; and Kodak is giving us our film stock. The crew will be comprised of people with whom I collaborate on a regular basis: my friend, Olivier Delfosse is producing, David Bartin will be the editor, and my close friend Tommy Upshaw is the cinematographer. The shoot shouldn’t take longer than three days.

I’m particularly excited about the project because we have two great actors attached to it. Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie, both of whom were featured in David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS, agreed to do the movie after reading the script and not really knowing anything about me as a director. Ray had actually read the story when it was published in The New Yorker, and is very excited about playing Harvey. (Nick and I wrote it with him in mind, so we really lucked out getting him.)

SKSM: How come you picked Harvey’s Dream to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Andy Cambria: I like the structure of HARVEY’S DREAM a lot as a story—you get an incredible amount of information about the characters in just four pages. It posed an interesting challenge as an adaptation; Nick and I had to make the entire thing visual and make sure it was dramatic (in the sense that we see the characters change, as they do in the story). The Hitchcockian twist at the end of the story (and the screenplay) is a great little payoff for a short film, but the characters were really what attracted me to the story: I felt they were very well drawn, and they were people that I could relate to.

I also found the dramatic tension between the worlds inside & outside the Stevens’ house ripe for the way I like to shoot. The home that Harvey and Janet share has become sort of vacuous, whereas the outside world is sort of impossibly blissful, even a bit dreamy. (I think Janet longs for the moments when she’s outside of the house and away from Harvey. However, a marriage is not something that’s easy to just walk away from, especially one that’s lasted through as much as theirs has.) Think of what DePalma did in CARRIE—the way he shot the interior of Carrie’s house as opposed to how the exterior world looks. HARVEY’S DREAM should be told from Janet’s point of view in a similar fashion.

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?

Andy Cambria: I had no idea that Mr. King would be as generous as he was with the rights to the story. A friend of mine who knew some people at CAA contacted his agent and made the initial inquiry about the story rights; I wrote Mr. King and his agent a letter of intent, and from there the deal was done in a couple weeks.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie at the time when it’s ready? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet release would be possible?

Andy Cambria: I would love for the movie to be released on the Internet, as long as the broadcast doesn’t interfere with certain film festivals we hope to submit the movie to (festivals that will not screen the movie if it has been previously broadcast on TV, the Internet, etc., etc.) I would also want the movie to be shown in a high-bandwidth format, preferably Quicktime, so that the quality would not be compromised, as many people are going to do a lot of hard work to bring it to fruition.

It does seem unfair that fans of Mr. King’s work won’t have immediate access to the film when it’s done, but my first objective is to make sure Mr. King himself is pleased with the results; and I feel that getting the movie into some high-profile film festivals is an important step in that direction.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King before making the movie?

Andy Cambria: I did not have any personal contact with him, no. I wrote him a letter explaining my intentions, but it was delivered through his representatives. I’m sure he is a busy, private person, so I don’t think it was really necessary for us to speak personally about the project. I would like to be able to give him a DVD of the film when it’s finished—his reaction is important to me.

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?

Andy Cambria: Oh, there are lots of stories/novels of his that I’d love to be involved with. I think BAG OF BONES is already in development somewhere, but that’s one of my favorites of his. I hope whoever makes it does a good job with it. I found the book riveting, and terrifying—a great story that’s very cinematic.

I also really liked ROSE MADDER, and I remember hearing that HBO bought the rights shortly after it was published. On the surface, it’s just sort of a revenge or ‘husband from hell” movie; but I like the surrealist aspects of it, and I think focusing therein would make for an interesting and unusual interpretation of the story.

My absolute dream project of his would be THE EYES OF THE DRAGON. I remember hearing an animation studio somewhere was going to make it, which (to me) would have been disappointing. I think there’s enough story in the book for two or three movies; and again, the characters are fantastic. I also love the themes of brotherhood, family and friendship he develops in the book. I see it as more of a swords and sorcery movie, set in a non-specific medieval kingdom—something along the lines of what Peter Jackson did with THE LORD OF THE RINGS. An aspect of the book that would have to be developed for the screen is the peasant rebellion against Flagg’s army, but as I said—it would be a very long movie (or perhaps two or three!)

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Andy Cambria: I’d like to thank everyone who supports this site and the filmmakers adapting Mr. King’s material. It’s very encouraging to know people are looking forward to your work, and I sincerely appreciate the efforts you all are making. Hopefully HARVEY’S DREAM will screen at some festivals in Europe, and I’ll be able to come over for a visit.

He is the man behind All That You Love Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Scott Albanese: I am originally from Ithaca New York. I did my undergraduate work at SUNY Brockport. (Brockport, NY) I graduated in December 2000. I majored in Radio & TV Broadcasting with a minor in Film Studies. I then obtained my MFA in Film Production from Chapman University. I just graduated this past May. I am currently developing a feature length project.

SKSM: When did you make All That You Love? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Scott Albanese: We shot ATYL in November 2003. It took us 7 days to shoot it. We shot at 5 locations, plus time spent in the studio. It cost more than I had planned, but my hope is that it will show on screen that it was worth every penny.

SKSM: How come you picked All That You Love Will Be Carried Away to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Scott Albanese: This story hits on a very personal note for me. I have had to deal with two suicides that affected me deeply. And what struck me with this story was the way in which King handled this subject. The open-ended conclusion forced me to consider some things with my personal experiences dealing with suicide. I couldn’t make the call for either person in my life and King decided he couldn’t make the call for Alfie. And, in real life, all you can do is hope that if someone finds themselves in that bad of a spot, that they will find some inspiration to keep going. I found this story to be very touching and honest regarding this topic.

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?

Scott Albanese: I couldn’t really tell you where I heard it first, but I had known for some time before I contacted him for the rights.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Scott Albanese: All in all we had a pretty smooth ride during the shoot. But things did get a little crazy on the last day of shooting. About an hour into the day, I was informed that we had a lot less film left than we thought. Seeing as it wasn’t an option to obtain more film or shoot another day, I decided to do more rehearsal takes to insure that we got what we needed when we burned film. This seemed to be the answer…until about 4pm that afternoon when I was informed that we were running out of daylight. Now, this wouldn’t be of major concern to me had we been in the studio, but we weren’t… So now we were pressed for light as well! Needless to say, I was about to explode. But, I had a great cast and crew who kicked into high gear and made sure we got everything we needed. I am grateful to them all.

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 or DVD release would be possible?

Scott Albanese: My hopes are to be able to have the film on the website eventually. I will have to clear that with Mr. King, of course. As of right now, we are cleared to enter festivals only. Any festivals that we get into will be posted on the site in due time. So that if any fans are dying to see it, they will have a heads up as to where/when it will be shown. We are still working on the DVD, but that will not be for sale. We are making them for festivals, cast, crew, and associated families.

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)?

Scott Albanese: I have not had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. King. He has not seen it as of yet, as I want to send him a DVD copy. I would greatly enjoy hearing his thoughts on the film.

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?

Scott Albanese: I have no plans on making more King-based films, but I am always open. The one King story I would love to bring to film is the one he won’t allow that to happen to. And from the looks of it, I am not the only one 😉

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Scott Albanese: Long days and pleasant nights to you all.

He is the man behind Autopsy Room Four Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Steve Zakman: Well, I am Steve…but I guess you already figured that one out. I am a producer and talent manager. I have produced four films. Two are features, “We Married Margo,” that had appearances by Kevin Bacon, Tom Arnold and Cindy Crawford, to name a few, and “Come Away Home,” that is currently in post production. I developed the story for “Come Away Home” as well. It stars Lea Thompson, Martin Mull, Paul Dooley, David Keith and Thomas Gibson. I also produced two shorts, “The Fine Line Between Cute and Creepy” and “Autopsy Room Four” “Autopsy Room Four” is the only movie that I directed.

SKSM: When did you make Autopsy Room Four? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Steve Zakman: I made “Autopsy Room Four” in December of 2002. In fact, we finished the shoot on December 13th, Friday the 13th. I thought that was the most appropriate thing for a Stephen King film…and it didn’t hurt that it also happened to be my birthday.

Production of “Autopsy Room Four” was tough due to the nature of the story. It all takes place in one room. That’s 23 pages (with the exception of two or three shots we got on a golf course for the flashbacks) that needed to be creatively shot and assembled into a narrative without driving the viewer crazy. Anyone who has directed a film will tell you that that is a directors nightmare. In addition to that, we needed to find a realistic looking autopsy room for the story to work. There is so much equipment involved in doing autopsies that it would have looked foolish if I tried to cheat the location in my garage or something. We were actually able to find a private autopsy room here in Los Angeles that we used for the shoot. That was just dumb luck.

We shot “Autopsy Room Four” on 35 mm film over five days and it cost about $30,000.

SKSM: How come you picked Autopsy Room Four to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Steve Zakman: I love Stephen King. I have read all of his books…some of them more than once…and had been looking for a good short story to make into a film. Most of what he had done before “Everything’s Eventual,” which is where I found the story, had either already been made or was too complicated to do inexpensively.

What I liked about the story was the fact that I assumed, wrongly I would come to realize, that it would be very simple to shoot…only three main actors and one location. Once we decided to go ahead with the shoot, I realized how naive I had been. First of all, as I mentioned above, the shoot was extremely difficult in that we had to keep coming up with new ways to show the action in the same room without creating absurd looking camera angles. Then we had to do it in such a way that we would be able to edit together. We also had to come up with “in-camera” effects to show the action from Howard’s point of view. That’s isn’t the easiest thing to do with a great big Panavision 35 mm camera and only five days. The second problem was that I wanted to use recognizable actors in the main roles. For the role of Peter, Stephen King describes him in the book as “a Baywatch beefhunk, only marginally smarter.” Well, I had just produced a movie that Michael Bergin was in. He also starred in Baywatch and when I called him and asked him to do the film he was happy to sign on. I found Torri Higginson, who played Dr. Katie Arlen, through a friend who had just worked with her on his movie. It turned out that Torri was also one of the leads in Stephen King’s “Storm of the Century,” so I got lucky again. The story of Howard Cottrell was another matter completely. It is the job of an agent and/or manager to protect their client. I know this because I am a manager. I found myself calling agents around town and trying to persuade them to let their clients, all well-known actors mind you, act in a short film where they don’t actually speak, lay on a cold autopsy table essentially naked, get a 24 inch thermometer shoved up their ass and have their life saved by getting an erection. Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy sell. One day as I was working on the shot list, I saw Stephen Furst on television. Stephen played Flounder in “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and was a series regular on the television show “St. Elsewhere” for about seven seasons. I called his manager and pitched the story to him.. After a few seconds of silence, he asked me one question…”will his eyes be open or closed?” I told them that they would be open and he said “that’s a brilliant part for an actor…let me call you back.”
That night my phone rang and it was Stephen. He said that he had been with this particular manager for over twelve years and the manager had never told him that he had to take a role…until now. He said that he didn’t even need to read it to decide and agreed to play the part. In hindsight, be might rethink that decision, but we had him! After that, everything just kind of fell into place.

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?

Steve Zakman: I had heard about the dollar thing but just assumed that it was an urban legend. I was on my way to a film festival in Florida for another film I had produced when I first read the story. When I got off the plane, I started looking into getting the rights to the story. I called King’s agent and was basically brushed off. But I persisted and eventually they asked me for copies of my other films, the script, my bio and some things like that. I sent it all off to the agent and didn’t hear much after that. About three months later, I was at the Montreal “Just for Laughs” Comedy Festival with another film and was pitching the role of Howard to various comedians there. I didn’t know if I would be permitted to make the film or not, but I knew that if I was able to, Howard’s character needed to be able to be funny. The story is too dark otherwise. Besides, if you read the story, Howard;s frustration comes across as really funny. Anyway, when I got back to Los Angeles, I had an email from Stephen King’s attorney in my mailbox. I panicked because I was afraid that word had gotten back to him that some knucklehead was up in Montreal pitching actors for a role in a movie that King hadn’t granted the rights for. When I opened it up, however, it was the contract granting me the rights. He didn’t even make me pay him the dollar!

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Steve Zakman: Even with all of the stress, we had a ball shooting the film. I think this comes across in the film.There are lots of funny stories that happened during the filming…too many to go into here. I will tell you that we had lots of fun with the “stunt cock” that we used to shoot the climax of the film…no pun intended!

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 release would be possible?

Steve Zakman: I wish that all of Stephen’s fans could see the movie…we put a lot of work into it and it is a shame that the only people who do get to see it are people who live in the cities where we got into festivals. I was invited to show it at the Stephen King Dollar Baby Festival earlier this year in Maine, but was too busy working on “Come Away Home” to go…maybe next year. I will see what I can do, but the deal I made with King’s people is that I would not put it on the Internet, so I have to live up to my agreement. We’ll see what happens.

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)?

Steve Zakman: Stephen has seen the movie and said that, “he liked it a lot.”

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?

Steve Zakman: I think that almost everything that is worth shooting has already been shot…or is currently being shot. We’ll see if he keeps on writing or not. I would love to make a Stephen King film that actually got into theaters…but I will let someone else direct…I’m a much better producer! If I got the chance and had an infinite supply of time and money, I would love to do the “Dark Tower” series…each and every freakin’ book!

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Steve Zakman: Thanks so much for reading all of this. I hope I didn’t bore you guys with all of my babbling…I started to bore myself! Hopefully someday soon, anyone who wants to see these dollar babies that we have worked so hard on will be able to see them…until then…keep the faith.

Jack Sawyers, the Director of Gotham Cafe Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do or have done?

Jack Sawyers: I was born and raised in New Jersey. I moved to California when I was 18. My goal is to make horror movies. I want to be the Frank Capra of horror movies. My background is in production. I have produced everything from commercials to music videos to independent films for the last ten years. I own a post production facility as well as a production company. I have never had the opportunity to just direct until now. In the past I have always produced and directed. It was an awesome, awesome, awesome experience just to show up and direct and I’d like to thank Julie Sands for making that possible.

SKSM: When did you shoot Gotham Cafe?

Jack Sawyers: We started shooting October 6th at which time we shot some exteriors and Mick Garris’ cameo. We did that to accommodate his schedule. We took a week off and came back the following week to finish on October 19th.

SKSM: Can you tell me a little about the production?

Jack Sawyers: We had a great cast and crew. All the elements were already in place for me. It was great, no stress.

SKSM: How much did it cost?

Jack Sawyers: I have no idea. The film looks like it cost 20 million though.

SKSM: How long did it take to film it?

Jack Sawyers: Six days.

SKSM: How come you picked Gotham Cafe to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Jack Sawyers: I did not develop Gotham Cafe. Julie Sands picked the story, formed a production company called Turtle Bay Entertainment, got the rights and developed the film putting in place all the casting, financing, locations, crew, FX, stunt people and everything needed to make this a hit many months before I came into the picture. She brought me on as the director a few weeks before the shoot. We had worked together on a film I directed and produced and she liked my work.

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?

Jack Sawyers: This question does not apply to me.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when directing the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Jack Sawyers: Yes. There were many fun times. My favorite moment came when Cullen Douglas, who plays Guy, and I developed a plan to trick Julie to get a major reaction to a scene. Cullen would throw a fit and quit in the middle of his performance. We kept the secret all day and when he told Julie he quit she let us think she believed it, but then got us back with an ear splitting scream I am sure the sound guys are still having nightmares about. She said to really scare her we should have had Lauri our line producer come out and tell her she was over budget! Funny thing was in dailies she had already got the reaction I wanted on the first take before Cullen played the joke on her. We had a lot of fun like that on set.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see the film?

Jack Sawyers: I wish everybody could see Gotham Cafe. It’s a great film.

SKSM: Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a video/dvd release would be possible?

Jack Sawyers: I don’t know, that is up to King. Maybe if there is enough interest, who knows?

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)?

Jack Sawyers: I have never had any contact with Stephen King. I have no idea if he has seen it.

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories?

Jack Sawyers: Not currently.

SKSM: If you could pick – at least – one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Jack Sawyers: The Talisman because I’m Jack Sawyers of course.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Jack Sawyers: Stephen King rocks, Julie Sands rocks and I am in awe of this production.

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:

He is the man behind The Secret Transit Codes of America’s Highways Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Brian Berkowitz: I am currently entering my final year at School of Visual Arts in New York City. I’m 22 years old working full time as a photographer while I finish up my final year at school.

SKSM: When did you make The Secret Transit Codes of America’s Highways? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Brian Berkowitz: Transit Codes was done in the Spring of 2003. All the shooting took place in one weekend which was shot in a motel in New Jersey. The full production cost in total was around $1500. It then took several month for the editing. From start to finish, including the writing, it was from about January 2003 until may 2003

SKSM: How come you picked The Secret Transit Codes of America’s Highways to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Brian Berkowitz: I read the short story, which in actuality is titled “All that you love will be Carried Away” in the summer of 2002 and I immediately wanted to adapt. I just felt an immediate love for the character and his personality and how you could see inside his head and learn what goes through an unstable mind.

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?

Brian Berkowitz: I was unaware that he sold rights. I made the film for a class assignment and when I was happy with the results, I went about getting right to display the film in some festivals and the like.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Brian Berkowitz: This was a year and a half ago. Unfortunatly , nothing particular from that shoot stands out.

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 or dvd release would be possible?

Brian Berkowitz: I am glad that King fans have the opportunity to see this film. If people are fans of this particular short story, I am happy to give them an opportunity to see it on film.

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)?

Brian Berkowitz: I’ve had no personal contact with Stephen King while making this film, aside from getting those rights for $1. As far as I know he hasn’t seen it but I would be glad to show him if he’s interested.

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?

Brian Berkowitz: Right now Im in the middle of going through a bunch of short stories to find the next one for me to film. Some of them happen to be Stephen King stories but I havent made a final decision. Hopefully soon I’ll pinpoint the story I’m going to use. If anyone know some good Stephen King short stories, drop me an email.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Brian Berkowitz: Thanks for eveyones support and keep watching, I’ll have a new film out within a year!!

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