He is the filmmaker of The Woman in the Room Dollar Baby film
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Alex Leas: My name is Alex Leas, I am Cambodian-American filmmaker and actor. I am 29 years old and have two sons.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Alex Leas: I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker when I saw how masterful The Lord of the Rings trilogy was as an 8 year old captivated by not necessarily the lore but rather the strong emotions I felt while watching it. I knew from that moment on I wanted to tell stories that moves an audience emotionally.
SKSM: When was The Woman in the Room made? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Alex Leas: The Woman in the Room finished full in May of last year. It took about three months to shoot to accommodate to everyone’s busy normal people schedule since everyone was a volunteer on set. I primarily paid for the cost of production and it rounded to about $5,000 US dollars.
SKSM: How come you picked The Woman in the Room to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Alex Leas: I picked The Woman in the Room because it was very personal story to Stephen and his mother-son dynamic element really resonated with me. When I adapted the story into a screenplay I interjected my own personal fears and regrets that I have with a relationship with my own mother.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Alex Leas: It’s simple. We don’t want to lose the people we love the most especially those that have made the strongest impact in our lives. There is true emotional turmoil when you have to grasp onto the concept of losing them and never seeing them again physically. I hope people will be able to empathize with that whether they have lost a loved one or not.
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?
Alex Leas: I found out about it through Instagram on a post. I like some of Stephen’s work and I had to see whether it was true. Especially since it was too good to be true.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when the movie was made that you would like to tell me about?
Alex Leas: The moment that momma chokes on water in the first act. My actress who played Lina actually was drowning from the water because Fernando (Johnny) actually poured too much in her mouth. I actually had to call cut because I could not contain my laughter!
SKSM: Are there points that you say afterwards that we could have done better differently.
Alex Leas: I wish I would’ve spent money on a professional who knows how to work a camera instead of relying on volunteers.
SKSM: Are there things cut out of the movie that you miss now?
Alex Leas: Not particularly. This was a learning experience and my film school. My list of regrets are too long.
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?
Alex Leas: I wish that was possible but I think in the contact we are not allowed to produce physical copies for our film for people to watch. I hope my film will capture an audience by word of mouth and luck on the internet.
SKSM: Can you describe the feeling when the movie was done? And how the film was received after viewing.
Alex Leas: It was a bittersweet feeling. We spent a lot of time in pre production and rehearsing for these characters that they almost felt like real people I knew. But I was happy to move forward and do better with my next films.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Alex Leas: The bad: my sound quality is inconsistent, camera is too shaky in some areas, and the focus was off. The good: my lead actors are truly convincing as mother and soon and the story brought them the tears. I’m grateful for team that was able to emotionally move the small audience we were able to impact.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Alex Leas: I did. Unfortunately it was not accepted at any festivals we entered in.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Alex Leas: I love the green mile and Shawshank redemption. The films adapted by Frank Darabont I think are masterclass films in emotional story telling.
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)?
Alex Leas: I was not fortunate enough to meet Stephen and unaware on whether he has seen 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?
Alex Leas: I would love to tackle his short story Nona from a mixture of a 1970s noir film and the 90s silence of the lambs type style.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Alex Leas: I am working on my first feature film loosely based on my life and how that developed a crippling fear of becoming a father and passing on my trauma unto my children.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Alex Leas: That I listen to everything that is said about my work; good or bad.
SKSM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Alex Leas: I see myself making films in the industry with my first feature already in theaters
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Alex Leas: Thank you for taking the time to read my responses, and I hope you will also have the time to view my work. Whether you love it or hate it; your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s. I am not offended either way.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Alex Leas: Thank you, Bernd so much for giving me my first platform to speak about a film I was very proud to make despite all of its flaws. I hope we can meet someday in person!