Channeling my own demons in a film by Michael Rowe

If you’ve seen The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, you may know that Stephen King absolutely hated the film adaption when it premiered. The story itself was very personal for King, and he even wrote a screenplay for it to be used in the film. Kubrick, however, had other ideas and re-wrote the script entirely himself, often deviating from the source material. From a writer’s perspective, I completely understand King’s aggravation; but as a filmmaker and a creative, I understand Kubrick’s role of inserting his vision into every work that he creates.

There are a few reasons I created a Dollar Baby film based on Stephen King’s Mute. Having just entered the world of filmmaking three years ago, I’ve always looked for ways to hone in on the craft, experiment with techniques, and become more efficient with each new project. The biggest hindrance I’ve faced so far (and still face today) is acquiring funding; so over time I’ve discovered ways to make films for less than $1,000 USD. I guess that’s what ultimately drew me to the Dollar Baby program – being able to purchase the rights to a story written by one of the most notable living authors in the world. After reading each of the stories available I decided on Mute for the sole reason that it seemed like the least costly option – limited actors, only a few locations, not many special effects, etc. 

Reading over the short story several times while writing the script, I cut out pieces that I didn’t think would fit in a film adaption and added my style and personality to the film; ultimately creating a piece that strays away from the source material the same way that Stanley Kubrick did with The Shining. Rather than strictly abiding to the story, I wrote scenes that symbolized my own feelings toward religious institutions and my own mental health that I struggle with daily. The results of this combination have led me to create a neo-noir film, full of tension and laced with bits of violence and sexuality. This would also be why I cleverly changed the title to something that better fits my narrative.

I’m fortunate to know so many supportive people, most of which agreed to help in my film for little to no pay. They were each motivated by my vision and our mutual love for one another; and of course, the agreement that I would provide dinner on shoot days. With no formal education in filmmaking, it has been a long, painful, tedious process, but I’ve loved every moment of it.

Michael Rowe (January 17; 2024)

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