He is the man behind The Man Who Loved Flowers Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Andrew Newman: I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, went to film school at Syracuse University, and spent five years in Los Angeles working in the film industry before returning to my hometown. I’m married to a wonderful woman who didn’t freak out after I showed her “The Man Who Loved Flowers“, and we have a beautiful, three-month old daughter.
SKSM: When did you make The Man Who Loved Flowers? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Andrew Newman: I made the film when I was a junior at Syracuse, back in 1996. Our assignment was to do an adaptation with a unique spin. What better than a Stephen King short story as a musical? The film cost around $2,000 to produce and was completed during the fall semester. If you plan on shooting a film with exteriors in upstate New York, you better have it in the can by early October. Otherwise, snow will be one of your co-stars.
SKSM: How come you picked The Man Who Loved Flowers to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Andrew Newman: One of my professors, Tom Friedmann, compared the structure of the story to telling a joke. King does a nice job with the setup before delivering an unexpected punchline. I think it’s a great formula for a short film. You want to entertain the audience with a bit of story and knock them out with the payoff.
SKSM: Are you satisfied with the end result or would you now do things differently?
Andrew Newman: While I’m satisfied, I could change a bit here or a shot there. Otto the Orange (the Syracuse mascot) didn’t quite work. I was supposed to get the cheerleading squad as well, but it was cold and rainy the day I planned to shoot with them. Also, there’s a shot where two pedestrians turn to see Leisure Suit Man yelling at the flower vendor, followed by a third popping up from below the frame. It’s a little slow and ideally the third guy would come in from the top of the frame, upside-down. No big deal, though. After seeing what George Lucas did with the original “Star Wars” trilogy and Steven Spielberg with “E.T.“, I think remastering is a bad idea.
SKSM: How does it feel to get the official Dollar Baby rights after 14 years?
Andrew Newman: Pretty wild. One day I’m posting my film on YouTube just for fun and the next day (literally) you emailed me about your website. That got the ball rolling and here we are. It’s an honor.
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?
Andrew Newman: A fellow student mentioned it after I finished editing. The professor said it wasn’t necessary for any of us to obtain the rights to our adaptations because they were a course requirement. And since the film was already completed, I figured it was too late anyway.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Andrew Newman: Actually, this happened a couple of years after I made the movie. I went to high school with Doveed Linder (“Strawberry Spring“) and another classmate calls me up one day and says she ran into Doveed and that he just finished his own version of “The Man Who Loved Flowers”. What are the odds? He had no idea I made the same film two years earlier. I got in touch with him and we wound up watching both versions at his house. Not saying whose was better.
SKSM: What kind of problems did you run into while filming?
Andrew Newman: Aside from the weather, not many. And the weather really wasn’t that bad. If memory serves, and sometimes it doesn’t, we only had to cancel one day of shooting.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie?
Andrew Newman: Them’s the rules. The concept of Dollar Babies was around long before the internet, so perhaps one day King will reconsider that part of the agreement. So long as we’re not profiting from online distribution, I think it would be great to share our work with his fans.
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?
Andrew Newman: I started writing a screenplay (on spec) for one of the Bachman books, “Rage“, many years ago. It was the first King book I ever read. After Columbine, he let it go out of print, which is understandable. Still, I think some of the novel’s themes resonate with teens from any generation. I envisioned a present day (’90s at the time) version with a Nirvana soundtrack. Don’t see anyone turning it into a movie now, not unless King has a change of heart.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Andrew Newman: I’m friends with most of the cast and crew on Facebook. Seamus Mulholland is doing his thing as an artist in New York. Ali Greenbaum teaches high school science.
SKSM: The Man Who Loved Flowers will be shown for the first time on a Film Festival in Los Angeles this April, what do you think of that?
Andrew Newman: It’s exciting. I’ve been meaning to get back to LA and this is a perfect opportunity. I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts in that setting.
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?
Andrew Newman: It was my pleasure. The response over the last year has been terrific and I’m flattered with all the interest in my film.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Andrew Newman: Yeah, thanks for cyberstalking me a little over a year ago. Just kidding. But you did help resurrect the film and I’m grateful for that.