He is the creator of this website and this is his story.
SKSM: May you introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you and what do you do?
Bernd Lautenslager: The older generation will know my name by now ? But let me introduce myself again. My name is Bernd Lautenslager and born in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, I am now 45 years old (phew, I’m getting old) I live with my son “Liam” and dog “Mack” in the in beautiful South Limburg, the Netherlands. I have 2 older sisters and I work for a Dutch health insurer in policy administration. In my spare time I like to play Airsoft and some other things to keep me off the streets and my interests are Genealogy and History.
I am also the founder of StephenKingShortMovies.com which has officially existed since November 21, 2003.
SKSM: How would you decide that shoot movies was your mission?
Bernd Lautenslager: When StephenKingShortMovies.com started, the term “Dollar Baby” was completely unknown as it is today. Over the years I was closely involved in other Dollar Baby productions. My first experience with it was “Stephen King’s Gotham Cafe” from 2005, directed by Jack Sawyers. With thanks, my name was added to the film credits. That made me feel “proud”. A film adaptation in which Stephen King has a cameo.
Over the next few years my knowledge became greater and broader and I became more and more interested in experiencing this myself in making a Dollar Baby. In July 2010 I applied for permission for “Mute” and this was granted and asked Darek Kocurek if he wanted to design/create a poster for Mute.
SKSM: Why Mute was cancelled? Is it possible for Stephen King Fans to see it in a future*
Bernd Lautenslager: I had gained a lot of knowledge in previous years and was of the opinion that I would just write a script. Only that was disappointing. I knew how I would like to portray “Mute” to the audience. Every shot, it was in my head, I had made notes, etc. It just didn’t happen to translate into a script. That caused frustration. Bought some books, spoke to several people, it didn’t help. When I think back now, I was a perfectionist. I knew from the experience of others that a film adaptation can make or break you and I wanted to stay ahead of that. Eventually I stopped trying. Gave me a moment of peace and therefore “Mute” as well. I can tell you “Mute” was never cancelled and maybe it will be the longest running Dollar Baby ever, but the fans will eventually come to admire it ?
SKSM: Who would be involved into this project?
Bernd Lautenslager: I haven’t decided yet whether it will be a Dutch spoken production or in English. Dutch is not really a world language, so to speak. ? But that’s something for later. Of course you have many good actors/actresses and what are you going to watch or look for? Since I live in the Netherlands, I kept it within these limits for a while. Since everything is in my head, I know approximately who is good for which character.
I have my ideas, but I’ll keep that to myself for now. Considering nothing is definitive at this point. If you want to stay informed you can always like the Mute Facebook page 🙂
Even though nothing is on paper yet, there is already an Associate producer on board ?
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Bernd Lautenslager: Everyone can agree that when you make something, in this case it is turned into a film, you have a bond with it. A vision. “Mute” was not my first choice, by the way. In 2005 I worked with Danny Paap (Dutch Stephen King fan club) on a storyboard and played with Lego and some kind of dog (I think it was purple) on a potato to create an idea of what and how we wanted to do it. However, we were not given permission for this and it was only possible to choose from the examples offered on StephenKing.com. Despite the great disappointment, I resigned myself to it.
The storyboard, photos as the Lego construction of the time has always been preserved. It is not known what happened to the dog and potato?
In 2010, quite a few stories had already been made into films and I wanted to choose something that appeals to me, in which I could also express my vision. After reading some stories I noticed “Mute”. At that time (as far as I know), this had not been made into a film before and that’s what I went for. The story has something mysterious, something scary and yet normal. Now we won’t be doing this again anytime soon. But in the 80s it often happened that my parents picked up hitchhikers to help them along the way. These were not deaf/dumb by the way.
SKSM: I know you are a huge fan of Stephen King. Which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Bernd Lautenslager: I’m a fan, I certainly won’t deny that. I even have several books 🙂 (I received them from my brother-in-law) but I am more of a person who likes a film adaptation and yes I know, often the film adaptation does not entirely correspond to the book. I’m not talking about the feature films now, but rather the Dollar Babies or film adaptations by fans.
Are we talking about a Top 100 or a Top 5 ? I have seen a lot of them and still do. And every film adaptation is good in its own way. You certainly see a difference when there is a budget and when there is not. But that’s with everything in life. Of course I have a favorite. When I look at the older film adaptations, for example, Rainy Season (2002), Autopsy Room Four (2003) and Gotham Cafe (2005) when the world was still small and for many unknown in terms of Dollar Babies. Survivor Type (2011), The Things They Left behind (2011) are well thought out which makes them unique. Of course I don’t want to say that other Dollar Babies are less good. They are also great to look at or even fantastic and well thought out.
I recently saw The Woman in the Room (2023) by Danny Donnelly, a great film adaptation in feeling and expression. Something I experienced myself with my own mother. This one will stay with me for a long time.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1?
Bernd Lautenslager: When I sent a $1 with a copy of the contract (by mail) in 2010, I was of course already aware of some things. I would have to go back to the years 2005/6. At that time I already had a lot of e-mail contact (Facebook etc. did not even exist then) with James Gonis, James Cole and Jay Holben. Jay was finally the one to point it out to me and inform me that there was some sort of Dollar Baby contract in place. In 2006 I received email contact from Marsha Deflippo (assistant Stephen King) who told me much more about this as this information was not listed on StephenKing.com at the time.
SKSM: You are the owner of this site. When (and how) did you get the idea of creating a site dedicated to the Dollar Babies?
Bernd Lautenslager: The idea came later. In the spring/summer of 2003, I was on MSN (chat group) with some people from the Dutch Stephen King Fanclub and we talked about various different topics. For example, there was someone in the chat who talked about videos he/she had seen and owned, a story by Stephen King. Many in the chat had absolutely no idea what this was or meant. These videos were shared via chat so that we could see what this unknown thing was. We were all impressed and wondered “are there more like this?” So we went looking for the unknown.
At the time I had a website page that didn’t have anything special on it and I started offering the 3 or 4 videos I had at that time on the website so that other fans of the Dutch Stephen King fan club could also see them. The image format was then in *.asf and *.wmv. It was already quite something then and the fan club was happy to see something they had never seen before. Soon after, we learned that these videos were also called “Dollar Babies.”
I had contact with Jason Charnick (from Upstart Film Collective and producer of Night Surf) and asked him if he wanted to share their “Dollar Baby” and I offered it on my website page. That was approved. In 48 hours, “Night Surf” was downloaded so many times that my page went offline. The data limit for the month had run out. This was only 20 Gb at the time. I had absolutely no idea what had happened. It turned out that the world had discovered my page. In addition to “Night Surf” and some other Dollar Babies, I also had other Stephen King related videos on it.
The idea was born to tackle this a little better. I was looking for a sponsor who could offer me more data per month to handle that amount of downloads. I found a hosting company in the Netherlands called Chemical Web Hosting in Vlijmen, Netherlands. The owner (Ruud Goedhart) was also a Stephen King fan himself and wanted to discuss this idea with me. But what do you choose as a domain name? The first choice at the time was “StephenKing.SK” (that SK because it referred to Stephen King). Unfortunately I don’t remember the reason why that domain name was not an option. Ultimately I kept it neutral and it became StephenKingShortMovies.com because I offered more than just Dollar Babies and the rest is history. ?
SKSM: What have you seen change in the past 20 years?
Bernd Lautenslager: A lot, We’re all getting older… you can’t escape that. Our appearance changes. The people around you, the world has changed and many only think about themselves nowadays and no longer as in “us”. Sometimes I wish that I could go back to 2003. Back then everything was simple or easier in a sense. So if anyone has a DeLorean and is still looking for a test driver to go back to the past. Send me an email. 🙂
In the early years you couldn’t find anything about the term “Dollar Baby” and now… you’re bombarded with it on all kinds of websites, often sharing the same texts and when I read that, I sometimes think… I have been a part of this and have shared this with the world.
I try to keep in touch with everyone in Dollar Baby Land (so to speak), but with so many people it is sometimes a bit difficult and I meet new people every day. Unfortunately, there are also people (friends over the years) such as Oto Brezina, Michael Cornelison and Kevin Karstens (The Mist- The Novella Cut) who I have to miss, with whom I always had pleasant conversations.
SKSM: 20 years of StephenKingShortMovies.com was it easy?
Bernd Lautenslager: You start a website and apart from a few people from the Netherlands, you don’t know anyone else. Social media didn’t even exist at that time (I think myspace just existed). Where do you start in the world called World Wide Web. After a few months you have e-mail contact with some people from America and they knew others through their circle of friends or through work-related contacts who could possibly help me further. It wasn’t easy then.
The years go by and the website gets bigger and the audience knows where to find you. From early 2005 to May 2006, many thousands of people visited the website every day.
In addition to StephenKingShortMovies.com, it was also a time to organize a Dollar Baby Film Festival in the Netherlands in combination with the Dutch Stephen King fan club. April 16, 2005 was the day. Of course I was there 🙂 For the first time, fans in the Netherlands could view more than just books (lol) and the Dutch subtitles were provided by Danny Paap, as not everyone understand English.
In May 2006 the fun was over. At the request of higher authorities, all “official” Dollar Babies that were offered for download had to be taken offline. That was a downer, to say the least. That weather didn’t stop me from continuing.
In the months that followed, I continued to receive many emails from visitors asking about Dollar Babies. I didn’t respond to that. In addition to the informative part (regarding film adaptations), I also interviewed since the beginning many people who had anything to do with a Dollar Baby film adaptation. I loved reading from their point of view and experiences. Every time I found someone and/or completed an interview I was as happy as a kid with a lollipop 🙂 (And I still have that feeling)
Sometime in 2007 or 2008 various people from the Netherlands encouraged me to write a book about Dollar Babies with interviews and other information. I seriously thought about that but ultimately decided against it. Why write a book when you can find it all on the website. My website is my book! Around that time I was called “Mr. Dollar Baby” and “Dollar Baby Man” by some. How creative can you be. Shawn S. Lealos took over and came up with the “first” Dollar Baby book ever in 2015. Then several followed.
The months/years passed. Myspace got competition. Facebook became available to the wider public. Finally something that would make the search for new Dollar Babies and the associated people easier. That was very disappointing. Just like with Myspace, people didn’t sign up. Back to the old way. Search further via Google.
In 2009, my sponsor (Chemical Web Hosting) announced that he had sold his company and moved to America (where he still lives with his family today) and the sponsorship came to an end. Fortunately, I quickly found a new sponsor, also from the Netherlands and closer to my home.
In 2011, StephenKingShortMovies.com took over the website Creepshows.nl from Marijn Raaijmakers. Marijn was also a member of the Dutch Stephen King fan club. His website showed trailers and information about film adaptations, among other things. Both sites ran side by side for a short time before becoming StephenKingShortMovies.com – “There Can Only Be One” (Highlander) 😀
Things went wrong in 2012 and my sponsor was often the victim of DDoS attacks, causing his server to be continuously down. StephenKingShortMovies.com was offline more often than online. A lot of data was lost and visitors ultimately stayed away. That hurts. I tried to save what could be saved. In vain. Out of frustration, I eventually took the website offline somewhere in 2012 and finding a new sponsor with a website that is offline didn’t work. The preparations for “Mute” also suffered from this.
StephenKingShortMovies.com is offline with a message that it would be back online soon. I just didn’t know how or when. I focus on the people who gave me energy and positivity. Those with whom I have been in contact since the start of the website, the Dutch Stephen King fanclub and those with whom I have been in contact by email and/or via Facebook for years, even though they lived on the other side of the world and had never seen or spoken to them in real life. Oscar Gariddo from Spain (although Spain is in Europe, it sounds very far away) was one of them. And even when StephenKingShortMovies.com was offline, he continues to provide me information via Facebook Messenger.
The once popular website is inactive. I was searching for “Stephen King Short Movies” via Google and see what results are left. Over time the results diminished. I left it for what it was and withdrew from the world called “Stephen King” and focused on my private life with the girlfriend. Oscar keep informing me about Dollar Babies etc.
It is now 2016 (december I think), and I have decided to fund StephenKingShortMovies.com myself and place it with another hosting provider (xYnta). I had known the owner since the early 2000s.
On May 4, 2017, I asked Oscar (who still provided me with information) if he was interested in managing StephenKingShortMovies.com. Oscar responded very enthusiastically. He was given full access to everything and could do whatever he wanted with it, as long as it was Stephen King related.
I designed a new website and Oscar did the rest. StephenKingShortMovies.com had taken a hit. A big dent. Could “something” still be repaired? I watched as Oscar emerged as the administrator of StephenKingShortMovies.com. People from Dollar Baby Land, so to speak, knew who he was and what he did. Oscar and I stayed in touch via Messenger.
2023 is the year that StephenKingShortMovies.com has existed for exactly 20 years on November 21. What are you doing. The website has had the same look since 2017 and was very outdated. After some brainstorming, I started building a new website in June and I informed Oscar about this. After some testing phases, the website was converted to the new setting on July 17. And then the adjustment at the back began, converting more than 950 messages and dozens pages to the new concept. That was quite a challenge and at the same time also looking for (new-)film adaptations.
SKSM: You tremble in the background for several years. Was there a reason for this?
Bernd Lautenslager: In the fall of 2012, I withdrew after various setbacks related to StephenKingShortMovies.com and started focusing more on my private life with my girlfriend. Which I married on Friday, June 13, 2014. (it was a lucky day and not the opposite) The following years I had some physical struggles, from a serious shoulder injury to a burn-out, a divorce, and the loss of both my parents. (In February 2017 I did have a bright spot.. My son Liam was born.)
I started 2020 with fresh courage. Until Covid-19 arrived and we were forced to work from home. Just like everyone else, you realize that normal is no longer normal and that it does something to you, including me, unfortunately. In 2022 I suffered from depression from which I am still recovering. Despite that, I see life cheerfully again and I enjoy everything and everyone around me every day, which made me decide to put time and energy back into StephenKingShortMovies.com
SKSM: Have you ever met Stephen King?
Bernd Lautenslager: Yes, on November 7, 2006, I met him during a signing session of his book Lisey’s Story in London. He signed the book (I filmed this) and it is still unread to this day. There was another lecture that same evening. There I also met and shook hands with Hans-Åke Lilja from Lilja’s Library – The World of Stephen King.
How do you say, two birds with one stone? Or is this more of a Dutch expression.
I was there with some friends 🙂 (L to R: Lieuwe van Aldaba, Mirjam Zwiggelaar, Danny Paap and myself of course)
SKSM: What is in the top 5 on your bucket list? (Everything is possible and nothing is too strange)
Bernd Lautenslager: A top 5, okay here they come.
1) This is something I have been saying for years. One day I will make a tour through America, Canada, Argentina, Spain… (and some other countries I’m sure I’ve forgotten) not for the sights there, but just to shake hands with those that I have been in contact with for so long. 2) Adapt “Mute” into a worthy Dollar Baby 3) Win €100,000, but I have to buy a ticket first haha 4) Overcome my fear of flying. Maybe it will help if I watch fewer programs that show airplanes coming down in an unnatural way 😉 5) Number 5 doesn’t come to mind yet. This will probably come later.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Bernd Lautenslager: What am I working on right now, answering these questions right now haha. I also work on the website, which in a sense is never finished and I always come up with something new. (remains a surprise for now). My health of course and I want to “Mute” and give second chances. I recently spoke with a Dollar Baby director (getting information) and started working on the script.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Bernd Lautenslager: That’s a good question. I usually ask the question to someone else ? Just one thing? That’s not going to work. I have blue eyes, am left-handed and am East-Indian deaf. (Dutch joke) Haha
What is interesting to tell… when the first Dollar Baby Film Festivals (2004/2005) were organized, it involved a lot of night work due to the time difference. I put more time into the Dollar Babies than my girlfriend (she didn’t like that at all).
In 2010, a film fest was organized that was sponsored by Universal Studios. I had to have a professional photo taken because I ended up with my face in the program book. I got 2 VIP tickets but in the end I didn’t go (Yes, it was stupid not to go myself, but that’s always an afterthought) I didn’t sell the tickets but gave them away to James Cole. Had a lot of contact with him at the time and he lived in Los Angeles.
In addition to Stephen King, I am also very concerned with Genealogy (regard to my family name), history and the second world war. This is because my grandfather (my mother’s father) used to be in the Dutch resistance and had to flee from the Germans to France. Where he met his wife. So I’m 25% French. Good and tasty food, beautiful language but I don’t understand a damn thing about it.
And to express a little creativity, I like to play with Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro 🙂 In case you haven’t noticed yet, the header/image with Stephen King congratulating StephenKingShortMovies.com has been photoshopped and is not real (unfortunately). Does it look believable?
SKSM: What kind of bond do you and Andrew Newman have?
It’s December 25, 2009, everyone is celebrating Christmas and I… I’m sitting behind/in front of my computer. Had just made contact with Andrew Newman via Facebook Messanger who had put his film adaptation of “The Man Who Loved Flowers“(1996) on YouTube a few days earlier. (It wasn’t Dollar Baby back then).
In August 2010, I am co-organizing a film festival in Los Angels. (I live in the Netherlands, 9 hours time difference) and I tell Andrew that we are hesitating whether to show his film adaptation since it is not Dollar Baby.
In conclusion, I inform him that it is an idea to get permission after so many years.
Andrew does that too. On January 12, 2011, he receives the news that his version of “The Man Who Loved Flowers” is an official Dollar Baby after 15 years.
In April 2011, his film adaptation will be shown for the first time (not counting a few months on YouTube) to the general public.
Jay Holben (Paranoid) helped Andrew digitize his film adaptation and edit the credits.
And the film festival is there… arranged for Andrew to be on the panel for QA. Later he says that he met Mark Lester and Mick Garris, among others, and the rest is history.
SKSM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Bernd Lautenslager: In 5 years I will be 50… half a century old… or young, depending on how you look at it. The website will still exist. I left the Netherlands for a warmer country, for example Spain (or another warm country is also good). My son and dog come with me and enjoy the sun and swimming pool every day. Nice prospect… and otherwise I have no idea haha… ask me that again in 5 years.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Bernd Lautenslager: I always wonder who is going to read this. I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a name behind a website. Apart from that, I would like to thank every visitor who has ever visited or still visits StephenKingShortMovies.com, that’s why I do it. In 2003, I could not have imagined that StephenKingShortMovies.com would still exist after almost 20 years and I look forward to the years to come.
My thanks also go to all the people who are connected to a Dollar Baby in some other way. Thank you for allowing us to see and admire your Dollar Baby.
I would also like to express my appreciation to Oscar Garrido. Even though we have never seen or spoken to each other, I couldn’t have done this without you and I will always be grateful for that. Thank you and if anything happens to me, the site is yours. 😉
SKSM: Would you like to add something else to this interview?
Bernd Lautenslager: Even more, did you find the above not sufficient. You can leave a comment below 😛