SKSM: May you introduce yourself to our readers?
A. J. Vargas: Greetings. My name is AJ Vargas. I work in the tv & film production management arena. I enjoy producing short films on the side to fuel my passions as a Producer.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a producer?
A. J. Vargas: I’ve always had a love for cinema since I was a child (movie fanatic here). I always knew I wanted a career in filmmaking even at a young age.
SKSM: How did you become involved in ‘Restare‘ Dollar Baby film?
A. J. Vargas: The director (David Chien) had placed an ad on a Facebook filmmaking group looking for a Producer to collaborate with for his Stephen King dollar baby short film adaptation of Rest Stop. I’ve been a HUGE Stephen King fan since reading his novels in middle school. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to adapt one of his short stories as a Producer. It definitelty was a bucket list item!
SKSM: Can you tell us about your work in the film?
A. J. Vargas: I was very involved in casting, locations, and production management, making sure David’s vision for this short film adaptation could be achieved.
SKSM: What was it like to work with David Chien on this film?
A.J. Vargas: I had an excellent working relationship with David. He’s a very talented writer / director. We were a great fit the minute we met to discuss his Rest Stop short film adaptation and we were on the same page with everything throughout pre-production and production. It was a true collaborative process and I’m very proud of the work he did on Restare both visually and with our actors.
SKSM: Was there any funny things that happened while filming (Bloopers, etc)?
A. J. Vargas: Oh yes. Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes story. There is a scene in our film that takes place in a hotel hallway. Since we were a very micro budget production we could not afford to shoot at a real hotel. There was some scrambling to figure out where we could shoot that scene. I happened to find a company in downtown Los Angeles that rents out used set flat facades. So we rented two hallway set flats that were used in Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply.” I booked a small studio stage in North Hollywood, we assembled the set flats in there and lit / shot our hallway scene. That actually worked out better because we had complete control over the set. It would have been difficult to pull that off if we had shot that scene in a real hotel hallway. That was me putting my Producer thinking cap on 😉
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
A. J. Vargas: I’ve been a Stephen King fan ever since reading his books in middle school. Horror has always been my favorite genre and Stephen King is the crown jewel of horror authors.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
A. J. Vargas: I worked at Marvel Studios for 5 years, managing visual development on their Phase 3 and Phase 4 movies. I’m at a start-up studio these days (Six Studios) developing Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar Saga” as a potential live action streaming series. It’s a really great project. Right up my alley.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Something you’d like to tell our readers?
A. J. Vargas: Thanks for the interview. Restare was produced and shot in 2018. The intention was to get it into some film festivals. Unfortanately that didn’t work our for us, I believe a lot of these film festivals weren’t familiar with Stephen King dollar baby short film adaptations. But I never gave up on our film. I was thrilled to get into this year’s Stephen King Rules Dollar Baby Film Festival. It was very rewarding to get that recognition. As for your readers, if any of them have interests in filmmaking, make the time to fuel those passions.