Alexander Haydn Jones
He is the man behind Stationary Bike Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Alexander Jones: I am a writer and director. I am a recent University graduate with a (MA) in Film from Swansea.
I have worked on several commissioned works for various companies. I have run a film festival from the ground up. I have worked for a Football Club. I have worked on a feature film as a script supervisor. I have worked with professional screenwriters on several writers’ room to develop projects from the ground up. I have gained valuable experience working on professional sets and wanted to push myself and my set to another level.
Recently I sat down and set myself a goal. That goal is by the time I am thirty to have made a feature film. I have ideas of what the film may be however I don’t know if those ideas will become the final product. If I am to make my feature film, I need to push myself further bit by bit. So my name is Alexander Haydn Jones. I am twenty-three years old and I am a filmmaker.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Alexander Jones: Growing up I suffered from several illnesses. I was always ill with something. Specifically, I had asthma and grommets which severely affected my hearing. Then in my later years I suffered from bullying. Some days at school were so bad, my mother would let me stay off. So when I was home from school, my father (who coincidentally also studied film) gave me a list of films that I should watch.
So from my bed, I watched every film you could think of from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’ to ‘La Jette’ to ‘Dazed and Confused’ to ‘The Shining’ – which I can tell you I was a bit too young to be watching however it stirred something inside of me that nothing else came close to.
So once I realised my other dream of playing for Arsenal wasn’t going to come true, I decided that film was my second career option. I Immediately made several (dreadful and potentially career destroying) adaptations of my favourite films with my sister in hope of emulating my directing icons. It fulfilled what I always knew that was inside of me. That I love film.
In some ways I don’t think I ever had a moment of knowing I wanted to be a filmmaker, I just think it was also inside of me that this was something I wanted to do and could be good at. In this life I can not think of another thing I would want to do.
SKSM: When did you make Stationary bike? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Alexander Jones: Stationary Bike was made at the end of January in 2018 for around £1200 which was raised through crowdfunding on Indiegogo as well as being heavily funded by the key crew members themselves and it was a shot over a period of three days for which I can personally tell you not a lot of sleep actually took place. The preparation and planning for the film had been in my head for over six years by the time filming took place and a whole year and half in various stages of test footage, auditions, rehearsals, camera tests, production design, costume, location scouts and so much more.
SKSM: How come you picked Stationary bike to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Alexander Jones: This idea and desire to make this movie started when I was fifteen years old. When I was fourteen I was given an anthology of short stories by my favourite author Stephen King. In this anthology was a short story entitled ‘Stationary Bike’, I immediately fell in love with this story. I would read it in my classes when I really should have been reading something else. From then on I knew exactly how I could piece this story together on the big screen.
The dream of making a Stephen King production had started when I was given the ‘Stationary Bike’ short story by my grandmother. She passed away that year, she never saw what I achieved in school, university or anything I created in film and it was only when I finished filming that I realised that this story was about letting go. The longing to see a loved one again and the forgiveness to move on. The process of putting yourself into the production and the consequences of emotional contagion boiled down to one moment. Saying goodbye to my grandmother.
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?
Alexander Jones: The notion of Stephen King selling his stories for only a dollar was suggested by my University Professor and I initially laughed it off as an impossible notion. Then after sitting back and thinking about what I wanted to say as a filmmaker I looked into the idea. The idea that at age twenty-two I would have made a Stephen King adaptation of a story meant a lot to me and was too tempting not to investigate. I had to see if this was possible and luckily for me it was and now the rest is history.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Alexander Jones: The whole experience on set was an experience like no other and firmly became one of the best times of my life. Working with Lily and Kwesi in particular was a distinct highlight. Working with them on their characters’ backstories and relationship resulted in building a blanket fort (check out the film) which the whole crew then helped build. It was later used as the HQ of the production team. Even on a Stephen King film you can be six and play in a fort!
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?
Alexander Jones: It is truly the only downside to the whole deal. As above all else we make film for an audience and to see their reactions and specifically to see what Stephen King’s devoted fans think of the adaptations. As a filmmaker we can only do so much without an audience’s opinions and reviews. I hope in future that this becomes possible for a wider audience to see future filmmakers’ works. An internet release for future projects could be released collectively together so perhaps mass consumption is one way forward or possibly events where people can watch special one off screening. I know I would love to see what other filmmakers have created. A boy can dream.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Alexander Jones: We have been incredibly luckily as almost everyone who has seen the finished product has been unanimous in praise for the project. From the technical side to the acting to the score to the direction. People have seemed to have really found a connection with the film. When you make something you never know if it is just you that thinks it’s good as you love it so much however luckily in our case people loved it! My mum cried so think that is a pretty good sign, they were happy tears I promise!
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Alexander Jones: At this point in time, the film has been sent out to various festivals so you’ll have to keep an eye out in the future for further announcements as I want the film to reach as many people as possible. The first film festival I entered the film in was awarded ‘Best Student Film’ at the Copper Coast International Film Festival. It was an incredible honour and one hell of a night celebrating with the crew!
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Alexander Jones: I am a life long Stephen King fan for which you have my Mother to thank for that. Growing up I read every book and every short story I could get my hands on. Then in time watching every single film and television adaptation I could find. It is hard to say what my favourite works of his are as that is a very Sophie’s choice type of question. If I was forced to say however my favourite novel of his is The Dead Zone and if I was to cheat and say my top three cinematic adaptations it would be ‘Stand by Me’, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and of course ‘The Shining’.
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)?
Alexander Jones: As time of writing I am waiting to hear back from him however he has received the film so only time will tell what he truly thinks however that is a very exciting thought to have that he could be watching it at this very moment!
At twenty-one I successfully made a pitch to the one-dollar program to adapt Stephen King’s ‘Stationary Bike’ as my production. The usual method of pitching and receiving word as to whether it was successful could take between two or three weeks if you ever hear back. I had no idea how this worked however my pitch was accepted within 36 hours. My pitch was that I wanted to create not only a stand alone short film of ten to fifteen minutes but I also wanted to use this short film as a stepping stone to create an opening to what could be seen as a beginning to a series of short films of Stephen King’s stories in an anthology series in the same vein as ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘American Horror Story’ and which could be used in online streaming services. This is just the beginning of what Stationary Bike is. It’s a stepping stone to make this project, bigger and better.
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?
Alexander Jones: At this moment in time I am not planning on any further adaptations as I want to experiment and test my abilities in different fields and genres of films but I have ideas….. In the future I would jump at the opportunity – I have already developed one idea for a series set at the Overlook hotel which focuses on the backstories and hauntings of the famous establishment in an anthology series with the Richard “Dick” Hallorann character being the lead as he is a truly wonderful and inventive character to explore. We have only seen a small glimpse of the hotel and I’m sure there is much to explore.
If I had to choose a short story of his to adapt it would be ‘All that you loved will be carried away’. I remember reading this story and thinking of the story’s final haunting moments, visualising how it would look and be put together. Truthfully those final few lines stayed with me long after I finished reading.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Alexander Jones: Currently I have just released my second short film ‘The Night We Met’ which people can more than happily go check out on my YouTube page. The film is a coming of age drama about the choice of an old man at a train station who reminisces about a night long past of his youth and the regret of never speaking to a girl at the annual school dance who may well have been the love of his life. There at the station he meets a woman who has run away from her wedding. They meet and discuss in real time the consequences of regret and the memory.
Then next year, I am working with one of my close friends Chloe Cortes Dellipiani to write and produce a play to be put on in London. It is in its early stages but it is shaping up to be a really interesting and exciting piece in which I can push myself as a writer further and go back to one of my first loves, the Theatre. The play revolves around the key moments that define a relationship in the 21st century so watch this space.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Alexander Jones: To the people who know me personally this probably isn’t surprising, however, I have always fancied myself as a landscape architect like Mark Ruffalo’s character in ‘Just Like Heaven’ and on which I stand by my judgement that it’s a great film! I have no shame in admitting that.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Alexander Jones: Stationary Bike wasn’t just a film to culminate three years’ worth of education, it was a chance for a group of creative minds to collaborate on a rare opportunity – to said they’d tackled King. From those experienced with his works, to those fresh-faced, the dive into a mind-set long lost was a chance to truthfully examine what the concept of memories does to our human nature. We’d looked across the spectrum of film and television to pull from the visual treats of works like those of David Fincher, to engrossing ourselves in the art of lunacy. From Super8mm to digital, our expression of medium underpinned a message that I wanted to bring to the screen in our adaptation.
Stationary Bike was a huge risk, but without venture, nothing is gained, and thankfully the year of preparation and work towards this short film has paid off. I deeply believe is a story that needs to be told, a story that comes to a man trying to get over the loss of his wife, and especially with the importance of mental health and normalising men’s mental health. I believe a film like this can really change perceptions and allow for a conversation to take place. Having the chance to be interviewed on this website is an honour, but what’s more important to myself and the whole team that worked on the film tirelessly, is the fact the film is being watched and the story is continuing to live on.
From a personal perspective, I am proud of the film that we can share with everybody as it sees its festival run. For the combined efforts of talent both in front of, and behind, the lens honours the original premise of the text and equally push it to new heights. And where the issue of diversity runs so deep within our industry, this production has made every effort to be a shining beacon of the change we wish to embody – even at our level. So, from my heart and an immense tidal wave of pride. For your consideration, Stationary Bike.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Alexander Jones: I would just like to say thank you to all the people who worked on the Project. To all the people who supported it and to the man himself. Stephen King. Thank you for letting creatives tackle your work and make the dream of making one of your idol’s works a reality.