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He played in Frank Darabont’s Dollar Baby The Woman In The Room as John.

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

Michael Cornelison: I am, and practically always have been, an actor. Got educated at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where I was room mates with Peter Weller (Robocop, Buckaroo Banzai). My career actually started in high school in Des Moines, Iowa. They shot a picture there called “Cold Turkey”, and I was Dick Van Dyke’s stand-in for an entire summer. That was my real college education. I do a lot of theater as well as film, but I love the movies.

SKSM: How did you become involved for The Woman in the Room?

Michael Cornelison: At the time, I was involved with a terrific woman named Katharine. She had gone to high school with Frank Darabont and Greg Melton. She thought we would make great friends, and we did. Frank and I had a huge number of loves in common: EC horror comics, Bernie Wrightson’s artwork. And Stephen King. He showed me his script for “Woman in the Room” which was, of course, great and told me of his Dollar Baby deal. He had the rights for, I think, one year. This was in the eleventh month. As an actor, I saw the value of it as a vehicle and my father was a stock broker who knew of some investors so, basically, we were off and running.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Michael Cornelison: No audition for me. My dad knew where the money was (insert laugh-track).

SKSM: You worked with Frank Darabont on this film, how did you find that back at that time ?

Michael Cornelison: Frank is – and always has been – as creative as he is kind. He’s a genuine gentleman of the old school and one of the pleasures of my life has been to watch how unaffected he has remained given all his success. He is, of course, a tad more polished as a director now, but no less a humanist, and that’s what counts.

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

Michael Cornelison: Ah! The “dream sequence”! As scripted, the elevator was supposed to open to reveal a huge pile of Viet Nam era body bags, which were to split open and vomit out all these writhing living corpses. On the day we were to shoot this, the props people proudly showed us the “body bags”: a box of Hefty garbage sacks. It just wouldn’t work. Frank was frantic, but we eventually concocted the sequence as you see it.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Michael Cornelison: Thank goodness for e-mail. Frank and I manage to squeeze off a line or two once in a while, especially if there’s something going on politically that we both support or hate. Michael Sloane and I exchange Christmas cards – his are some of the most creative in the world – and Doug Venturelli, our Executive Producer.

SKSM: What did you do after The Woman in the Room?

Michael Cornelison: Not too long after “Woman” I returned to the Midwest to concentrate on theater work, amongst other things. I’ve done a lot of fun stuff out here with Max Allan Collins, the original author of “The Road to Perdition”. We just finished a film version of a play he wrote for me: “Eliot Ness: an Untouchable Life”. It’s a one-man show that has turned out very well. Ironically, Max was just summoned to George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch to be their expert on Eliot Ness for the special features on the “Young Indiana Jones” series DVD release. That’s a series that Frank Darabont wrote many an episode for. It’s a small business.

SKSM: Have you seen the French version of The Woman in the Room by Damien Maric and if so, what do you think of it?

Michael Cornelison: Wow! What an incredible visual style Damien has. Very polished. And at his age. And on that budget! I was tremendously impressed. I’m of two minds about making Johnny that young a character, but what the hell, it’s a great little film. He pays some very sly homage to Frank, as well. Extremely clever. It’s gorgeously lit, as well.

SKSM: Are you (or where you) a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Michael Cornelison: I stumbled across “Carrie” in hardcover before anyone knew who he was. It blew my mind. Then “Salem’s Lot”, “The Shining”, “The Stand”… This maniac just kept upping the ante! I don’t believe there is another writer of any generation that can involve the reader, really absorb you into the story, the way Stephen can. Yeah, I’m a fan.

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?

Michael Cornelison: Just to say “thank you” to all the people who have shown the old girl such respect over the years. And to you, Bernd, for a website that serves a noble purpose.

 

He is the man behind The Boogeyman Dollar Baby Film.

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

Jeffrey C. Schiro: I grew up in Maine, and am now a film editor in Los Angeles.

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

Jeffrey C. Schiro: I made The Boogeyman as a student while attending New York University in 1980. The shooting was broken up over a period of time, but probably took 7 days or so all together. It took about 2 years to complete and cost about $10,000.

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

Jeffrey C. Schiro: When I read The Boogeyman back in 1978 or so, there was just something about it that touched me. I suppose every kid thinks there’s something lurking in his closet, and I was no different. I’ve always liked dramas with a psychological edge, so I found the story appealing.

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?

Jeffrey C. Schiro: I didn’t know. Partly, because I believe The Boogeyman was one of the first short films made from his stories. When I decided I wanted to try and make it into a film, I wrote Doubleday Books who owned the rights and eventually heard back. For years, I thought I was the only one who had this dollar deal!

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

Jeffrey C. Schiro: How about a twist of fate. I was in dire need of a psychiatrist’s couch for the shoot, and I couldn’t find one that seemed right. The filming was days away and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was walking down a NY street when I turned and saw the perfect couch sitting on the curb. Someone was throwing it out. That’s the couch in the film.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie anymore? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a video/dvd release again would be possible?

Jeffrey C. Schiro: It had a small run and I suppose can be found on ebay. And, of course, now there is the internet. I suppose a DVD would be possible in the future at some point.

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)?

Jeffrey C. Schiro: Not during the filming but once it was done. I grew up a short distance from where he lives, so at the time, personally delivered a Betamax copy of the film to his doorstep. He did see it, and liked it enough to give his permission that it could be released on video. We talked a number of times, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the experience.

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?

Jeffrey C. Schiro: No current plans, but you never know. I would probably re-do Running Man. I always liked the story and thought the 1987 version was a little too comic book. I always saw it as a fairly dark story.

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?

Jeffrey C. Schiro:

Title: Umney’s last case (2006) Bandera de Estados Unidos
Runtime: 18′
Director: Rodney Altman
Script: Rodney Altman & Emma Heald
Cast: Joel Nagle, Jim Doerr, Mark Margolis, Christina Dunham, David Benger.
Trailer
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He is the man behind I Know What You Need Dollar Baby Film.

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

Shawn S. Lealos: Well, to start with, my name is Shawn Lealos. I live in Oklahoma and I am a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. My degree is in Professional Fiction Writing from the Gaylord School of Journalism. I started writing when I was in my early twenties, writing short stories and I also started a novel at the time, which remains unfinished. I started college when I was 25, working towards a business degree. With the encouragement of one of my professors, I decided to pursue my writing instead. I began my writing career as a journalist covering Oklahoma sports, and worked as a sports reporter for 4 years, winning a number of National awards in the process. I started another novel (it also remains unfinished) and was about to graduate when I discovered screenwriting, thanks to a book I read by screenwriter William Goldman (Adventures in the Screen Trade). I tried my hand at a screenplay and finished it. That is when I realized that I enjoyed writing movies much more than writing anything else. So I began my attempts to become a screenwriter.

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?

Shawn S. Lealos: I had finished my first screenplay and felt pretty happy with it. I was doing a lot of reading of books over writing as well as screenplays themselves. I probably bought close to 6 or 7 screenwriting books every month and read them all. One of these books was the screenplay adaptation of Stephen King’s “Shawshank Redemption.” Before the screenplay, there was a forward by screenwriter Frank Darabont. Darabont spoke about how he had secured the rights for a early short film based on the Stephen King short story “The Woman in the Room.” He detailed how he had bought the rights for the movie for one dollar and that was a deal that Mr. King offered students in exchange for festival only rights to make a short film based on a short story. I decided I wanted to try it, and began to look for ways to go about asking for the rights. I sent an e-mail to Michelle Revelle, who ran the Stephen King e-mail site SKEMERs. She sent me the address to contact Mr. King, and I sent off a professional letter asking for the rights for the story.

SKSM: How come you picked I Know What You Need to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Shawn S. Lealos: I was working as a sports reporter and was covering the Big 12 football championship in Kansas City. It was a long road trip I was making by myself, so I decided to buy a book on tape to listen to on the trip. I didn’t really want a regular book since the listening would be broke up quite a bit on the trip so I instead chose the short story collection for “Night Shift.” While I listened to it, I decided I would try to find a story to adapt. My favorite story in the collection is “Last Rung on the Ladder.” I decided there was no way I could do that story justice at this time in my new career, so I kept listening for more. There were a few things that would effect my choice in story. First, it had to have a limited number of characters. Second, it would have to have a limited number of places and they had to be places that were accessible to me. Third, it could not have much, if any, in the way of special effects. I did not know how to do them. I would be paying for the movie out of my pocket (working as a bartender), so it would need to be something I could afford to do. I Know What You Need had a limited number of characters (3 main ones and a couple of secondary ones). It had locations that were accessible to me (the university town). It had no special effects and looked to be something I could afford to do. It was also a really good story, so I chose it.

SKSM: When did you make I Know What You Need? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Shawn S. Lealos: It took almost a year to hear back from Stephen King. In the meantime, we decided to shoot a short film based on one of my earlier short stories. We cast the roles with local actors and started shooting. That movie remains incomplete and I view it as just a learning experience. We were thinking of attempting the same movie again, when I got the response from Mr. King in the form of contracts.

We hired local actors once again, all working for free. We got an experienced cinematographer in the area and set out to make the movie in 2001. That version of the movie was never completed. Chalk it up to more learning experiences, as well as differences in philosophy between me and my cinematographer. It did not work.

We shot a few more short films, each one better than the last. I finally bought my own camera to shoot with. We got a quality shotgun microphone. I improved more and more with my editing. Finally in 2004, we decided we were ready to try again. We wanted the King movie to be our calling card and we wanted it done right.

I rewrote the script and actually moved away from the story slightly. The first time we shot it, there was simply a lot of talking and no action and it was very boring. I added a character not in the King story, a private detective. In the story, Alice has her father look into Ed’s past and we only get it in exposition. To make it more visual, I had a detective look into it for her and showed more. It also gave me a chance to show what Edward was really doing – why he was such a bad guy.

We cast the movie again and got a great cast this time. The only holdover from the first shoot was the character of Edward, played by the wonderful Kevin Real. We got a couple of actors that were actually on IMDb – Adam Hale and Kyle Dickinson, who were both great. My production partner, Rob McIlrath played the detective. We got a couple of local actresses, Valerie Jobe and Megan Harwick to play Alice and Elizabeth and we were ready to go.

I hired another cinematographer to help me name Boots Kennedye. Where my first cinematographer told me things he couldn’t do, Boots simply came in every day and did everything that was asked of him. He was the best I could have asked for. I also got a production manager named Tony Moyer who was the glue that held the production together. Without either of those guys, I don’t know how it would have turned out.

We shot most of the movie in August of 2004. I worked on editing for awhile and was never really satisfied with it. I could not put my finger on it. Then I figured out that nothing really happened through much of the movie, just a lot of talking. I hired another actor to play Elizabeth’s boyfriend Tony and wrote a new scene where Tony and Ed meet. The actor, Colin Warde, is slightly connected to Stephen King’s filmography, as he has worked on two separate occasions with Fritz Kiersch, the director of “Children of the Corn.” He was also the third actor in the movie to be already listed on IMDb.

I finally secured all the music for the movie from five local bands as well as one from Maine called Now is Now. I put the movie together and sent it to the Dollar Baby Film Festival to be seen for the first time. Thanks to some advice from James Renner, the organizer of the festival, I am working on some re-editing to tighten the movie some before entering it in any future festivals.

From the beginning in 1991 through the current time, we have been working on this movie for over four years now. This second filming cost me just over a thousand dollars to make. Cheap compared to what you would think a 30-40 minute movie would cost. This is thanks to a cast and crew that worked for free. Without them, I would not have been able to come close to affording this task.

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

Shawn S. Lealos: I think the greatest feeling was when I received the contracts in the mail. I was non-stop running from one place to the next telling everyone who would listen that I had received permission to make a Stephen King movie. I also felt great when I finally saw my name on IMDb for the first time. That was all thanks to James Renner allowing me to show my film in his festival.

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?

Shawn S. Lealos: I don’t know. I want everyone who can see it to see it. Any Stephen King fan can hit a film festival near their homes and see any film showing there they want to. Sure, you can’t see it now and if you wait until it has hit all the festivals that it can, you may not be able to see it again. But if a filmmaker really wants his movie to be seen, he will publicize every showing it will have, and if a fan really wants to see it, he will make sure he gets there to see it when it is in his area.

It would be cool to have a video or DVD release with a number of dollar babies on it, but that would be all up to Mr. King. Our contracts do not allow us to make a profit from the movie, so to see a video would require someone to set up a new deal with Mr. King. I would be all for it though.

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)?

Shawn S. Lealos: I have received no contact from Mr. King other than the contracts. Part of the contract requirements is for me to send him a copy when it is completely done, so he will see it, but I don’t expect to hear from him about 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?

Shawn S. Lealos: I have no plans to shoot anything else by Mr. King at this time. I don’t know what I would like to make. Maybe a film based on his Bachman book “Rage.”

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?

Shawn S. Lealos: I just want to thank everyone who helped me in the promotion of this movie. If not for Lilja’s Library and Bernd Lautenslager here at stephenkingshortmovies.com few people would even know I had shot this. If not for James Renner and the Dollar Baby Film Festival, I would have not been able to get our movie onto IMDb.com. If not for Michelle Revelle at SKEMERs, I would not have gotten the address to ask for permission. Also, a call out to fellow dollar baby makers who have contacted me including James Cole and Peter Sullivan – I knew I was not alone in all this. My business partner, and fellow producer of this movie, Rob McIlrath, who I would not have been able to make this without.

As for the fans, I hope you all continue to support everyone who has the guts to stand up and try to make a movie based on something they love. It is hard and it is a lot of work. I hope that if you see my movie, you will see all the hard work, all the devotion as well as all my love for the source material. I hope you will be entertained at the same time.

None of this would have been possible without the gracious permission of Mr. Stephen King. What I want more than anything is for him to watch it and be satisfied with what I have created.

Thank You Mr. King.

 

He is the man behind King’s short story Sorry, Right Number.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? And what have you done after making The Secret Transit Codes of America’s Highways?

Brian Berkowitz: I was born and raised in New York City. Film has always been a passion of mine. Since Secret Transit Codes I’ve jst been searching for my next film.

SKSM: When did you make Sorry Right Number? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Brian Berkowitz: Sorry right Number was shot in January 2005. Post-Production was completed inin April 2005 and the film made it’s debut screening on May 4th 2005 at Loews theater in midtown Manhattan

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

Brian Berkowitz: It’s a very simple story with a clever “sci-fi” twist at the end. Classic Stephen King, how can you go wrong?

SKSM: Did you have seen the 1986 version of Sorry Right Number? If so what do you think about it?

Brian Berkowitz: I have seen it and I think it’s very good for it’s time. I had to make a couple of changes from the original to the script and some characters but other than that I think the 1986 version was done quite well.

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

Brian Berkowitz: There was a dog on set at one of the houses we rented to shoot in. if you look closely, the dogs shadow can be seen in some shots

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?

Brian Berkowitz: I’m delighted that I can share this film with real Stephen King fans. I’m sure all true fans love this story and now the get a chance to see it on film, 20 years sine the original.

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: As far as I know he has not seen it. The only contact I’ve had with Mr. King was securing rights to make 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?

Brian Berkowitz: I’ve done two in the past and as of now I don’t plan on making any more in the near future. I’m am currently writing an original feature so we’ll see where that takes me. Hopefully one day I can direct a Stephen King feature!

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: Hope you enjoy the film and I appreciate you comments!

He is the man that created King’s Maximum Overdrive into a short movie Minimum Overdrive.

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

Liam Engle: My name is Liam Engle, I’m 24 years old (but was about 22 when I made the movie) and I’m working to become a full-time director. I studied at the University in Aix-en-Provence, France, but I’ve been mostly trying to go my own way since I finished that. I’m currently putting together a showreel featuring bits of my movies for production companies to see.

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

Liam Engle: Minimum Overdrive was shot starting on August 3rd 2003 and the editing was completed in December of 2004. The movie took a long time to shoot since we were aiming for empty lots and places where there wouldn’t be any cars and we could safely film our chase. So we could only shoot on Sundays. The whole production basically got stretched out because of that.

The movie cost about the price of the two cars, about 70€ each, and that’s it (except for the obvious: Mini-DV tapes, food, gas.). So the movie didn’t really cost anything.

The entire movie was filmed “guerrilla-style” with basically just me operating the camera and Thierry, the actor, doing his thing. We sometimes had a third person come onboard to help out with the car, etc.

All of the special effects we’re done onset with basic tricks such as fishing wire, firecrackers covered in flour to get fiery explosions, etc.

SKSM: How come you picked Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive to develop into a short movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Liam Engle: We didn’t exactly choose Maximum Overdrive. The movie started out more like a kind of spoof of Spielberg’s Duel. It’s only much later on in the production that we saw the similarities with Stephen King’s movie. The title itself is more of a coincidence than anything, believe it or not !

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

Liam Engle: The opening of the movie was shot in a vacant parking lot on a Sunday. But we needed to come back and get some shots of the escalator, which obviously only functions during workdays. So there we were, with our camera, just trying to steal shots really discreetly. But a security guard saw us and we just ran to the car, jumped in it and sped off, and the guy took his own jeep and basically chased us off the premises. That was fun.

Aside from that, the whole movie was fun since it involved so many little practical effects like breaking bottles, firecrackers, “stunts”, fire, etc.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can see your movie?

Liam Engle: It feels great! I just hope they think it’s worthy of getting the title “Stephen King short movie” !

SKSM: Has Stephen King seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Liam Engle: I don’t think so ! But I hope he does.

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?

Liam Engle: I don’t have any plans but if I could do one, I’d probably film “The Mist”. But I think Frank Darabont is already doing that 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?

Liam Engle: I hope you liked the short, and if you did, don’t hesitate to take a look at our “Behind the scenes” video! (URL: http://minimumoverdrive.avenueduweb.net/makingof.html)

He is the man behind Umney’s Last Case Dollar Baby Film .

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

Rodney Altman: My name is Rodney Altman and I’m 24 years old. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but I have lived in New York City for over 3 years now. I went to college here at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, one of the top film schools in the country. I graduated in May 2004 and have been finishing the film and writing a screenplay in my spare time.

SKSM: When did you make Umney’s Last Case? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Rodney Altman: We shot most of Umney’s Last Case on a soundstage over 2 weeks in March 2005. I had sets built for the elevator, the hallway, Candy’s office, and Umney’s office. The Peoria Smith scene was shot on location on a small, quiet New York street. We had a crew of about 40 people, some were people I regularly work with, some were new to me, but we all got along very well. We shot it on 35mm on Fuji Eterna stock. We were actually the first narrative production in the country to use this film (some commercial used it before us). We ran into a small scheduling problem while building the sets and had to cut out the scenes of Umney in the present day to be shot at a later time. I spent the summer editing the film and due to numerous reasons I just shot the final scene 6 days ago. I’ll be getting it from the lab tomorrow and will finally be able to finish. We shot that scene on 16mm Kodak Vision2 film to give it a completely different feel from the fictional world of Umney. In terms of cost, it’s always hard to give an exact number because as students you have to ask for a lot of favors and some stuff that should be expensive is cheaper or free. But, all inclusive from costumes, film, rentals, building materials, and all post-production, it was about $60,000.

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

Rodney Altman: I remember many years ago my parents took a trip to New Orleans for some medical conference (they’re both psychiatrists) and they came back with some gifts. One of them was that small pocket single version of Umney’s Last Case. I’ll say I was about 15 or 16 at the time, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, I had never really read much King at that time, although I had seen every movie with his name on it. I put the book away and never touched it. A year or so later we went on a road trip and I just happened to find it and decided to use it to pass the time in the backseat. It was a little slow at first and I had no idea where it was going. But then when I got to the ending I found myself constantly thinking about it. “Who was the real author? Is it all in his mind or is Umney real?” I loved how the story snuck up on you. I distinctly remember thinking that it would make a really cool short film, and over the years I would always hear that thought popping up in my head. I hate how people who don’t read King always call him a horror writer. He has some many great stories that run the range of genres, and here’s this detective story with a strange sci-fi twist. If you took King’s name off it, no one would know it’s one of his stories. I wanted people to see that this writer has other stuff to offer.

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?

Rodney Altman: I had just finished shooting my previous film Echoes and was thinking about what to do for my next project. Echoes is based on a very short story by an old high school English teacher of mine name Lawrence Connolly. The story is only 2 and a half pages, but it is mind blowing. If you can track it down, read it. Also, you can see most of my film version at my composer’s site www.willpitts.com if anyone is interested. The guy who plays the father in Echoes (Joel Nagle) plays Umney. And the kid that plays Billy (David Benger) plays Peoria. It was my first time using color film and sound and it could only be a maximum of 8 minutes, so I got the rights from Lawrence and adapted it. My next project was my advanced film and could be up to 30 minutes, and I thought that might be a perfect length for Umney’s Last Case. I happen to mention this in a group of friends and one of them, Josh Finn (who made another awesome film called Time Enough at Last, if you want to check it out) told me about King and his $1 deals. I did some research and when I saw that Frank Darabont did the same thing, I knew I had to make Umney. I called up Rand Holston (King’s agent) and through him he set up the deal.

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

Rodney Altman: Well, up until this film I had only worked with actors from around the New York area who were mostly unknown. I don’t mean untalented, as so many of them are. They just never got their shot. Well, with Umney I wanted to have a little more of a challenge with directing. My producer Jason Brown happened to have worked with Mark Margolis on a previous project and we contacted him and asked him to play Vernon Kline. If you don’t know who Mark Margolis is by name, check him out on www.imdb.com and you’ll instantly recognize him. Anyway, he took the role very seriously and treated me like his boss. I mean, this man is telling me stories about working with Darren Aronofsky and then asking me if I liked his way of saying a line and whether we should do another take. And this is the first day of shooting. But you know, you get over being star-struck very quickly. He was taking it seriously, so I started to also. And after an hour we just had a natural rhythm going. I’m going to have to make sure he’s in my next film. He really nails Vernon’s part.

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?

Rodney Altman: Well, they shouldn’t feel too bad. At this point even my own parents haven’t seen the movie. They flew in for a weekend to see me work on set, but they have yet to see any actual footage. However, the film will be done by the end of January now as everything is back on schedule. I’ll be submitting it to a few select film festivals, and after that I’d be happy to put it up on the web, perhaps even your site. I can’t do it right away because many festivals demand that they have exclusive rights to it. But by all means I want the fans to see it. I get upset when I know there are other King short films out there that I can’t see. Sooner or later, you will get to see this.

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)?

Rodney Altman: He has not seen it yet, but he will soon. I’m a little nervous about it. Especially because TNT is now making it for television with William H. Macy. Obviously they are going to have a longer, more expensive version of it and whether or not you mean to, you’re going to compare it to that. I’ve made some very creative choices with my version and I’m dying to see what they did. As for contact with King, I have a funny story about that. When King was in town to receive his award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards, I decided to get tickets and go thank him personally. However, I couldn’t get tickets. So I decided to crash. My girlfriend and I got dressed up, went to the Marriott Marquis and pretended to be in with the press box. After King’s speech I went down to the main floor and approached him. He shook my hand and I told him who I was and how grateful I was for the chance to make Umney. He looked at me and said, “Oh yea, I remember that one. Make sure you do a good job.” Then he sat down. I found out the next day that he was hospitalized for having the flu and only came so he could give his speech. I felt really bad about standing there in front of his chair and trying to talk to him while he’s just dying to sit down. But he was a good sport about it and I hope he enjoys 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?

Rodney Altman: Well, I have to be honest. I love so many of King’s stories and there are like 5 that I want to do. For years I wanted to make Desperation, but since that’s already been done I’ll have to get over it. My true passion lies with The Dark Tower. I know that that’s like climbing a 100 foot scaling wall and then deciding to go climb Mt. Everest, but I want to do it. I’m a huge Dark Tower fan and am constantly planning it out in my head. I love it so much I give The Gunslinger to friends on their birthday, whether or not they like King. I often think of Peter Jackson as inspiration. He wanted to make The Lord of the Rings since he was a child, and yet no one really knew who we was even with movies like Bad Taste and Dead Alive. Then one day, bam, he does it. That kind of stuff happens every day and it only can’t happen when you stop believing. But for the moment, I’m just going to concentrate on finishing Umney.

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?

Rodney Altman: Thank you for asking such detailed questions and running such a cool site. To you and all the fans let me say that there are so many movies out there based on King’s work, and some are awesome and others are awful. When you see Umney’s Last Case, some of you will love what I’ve done, and others might hate it. That’s cool. That’s what being an individual is all about. And I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to share their opinion. Let me know what you thought worked and what didn’t do it for you. Like any adaptation, some things had to be cut, others added. It’s pretty true to King’s story, but there are some changes. I just hope I did the story justice.

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