He is the man behind Here There Be Tygers Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Bryan Higby: My name is Bryan Higby. I’m a novelist and film director, podcast producer.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Bryan Higby: I wanted to be a filmmaker at the age of fifteen when some friends and I got our hands on a camcorder. This would be around 1990. One of the large shoulder models that took a VHS tape. At eighteen I co-wrote my first screenplay. I’ve been producing short movies ever since.
SKSM: When did you make Here there be tygers? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Bryan Higby: Here There Be Tygers was produced last March 2019 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy NY. We raised a budghet of $777.00. I did the camera and sound, editing and direction. We shot the film in about four hours and it took me three weeks to edit the film. The movie is only eleven minutes long. The short story is only two and a half pages but its one of my favorite Stephen King stories.
SKSM: How come you picked Here there be tygers to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Bryan Higby: Here There Be Tygers was a story I read in high school just after finishing the unabridged version of the Stand. I bought a paperback of Skeleton Crew. There was something so direct about the story, and knowing King a story like this could have multiple meanings, but I read it as an actual tiger in the stall and that’s sort of how we approached our production. There are a couple of sequences in our film that elude to the idea that Charlie creates the tiger from her mind. I also liked the idea of working with my daughter Harper who was seven at the time. We changed the characters sexes. My actor friend Davild Wilder played Mr. Bird.
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?
Bryan Higby: I’d heard the legend about King selling film rights for stories for something like twenty years but never assumed I’d get one. I’ve been a Stephen King constant reader since I was fifteen and now I’m forty-five. I’ve become a writer myself with thirty novels to my name but still haven’t broken out with regular bestsellers. In the summer 2018 I started reaching out to bestselling authors like JA Konrath, Hugh Howey, Blake Crouch, Joe Lansdale and others who I’d met via agents. They were all very supportive. None of them had the statis of King. I reached out to King’s people via his website and conneceted with Marsha Defillipo, King’s personal assistant. Wonderful woman. She allowed me to send King three of my genre novels: Pizza Man, Taco Bandits, and Chuck A Chik (all written in the old EC comics style). A year later I read the article about the students in Whales who got permission to do Stationary Bike. I reached out to Marsha and she directed me to the website. I filled out the form with my request and Margaret Morehouse, King’s secraty emailed me with the form. I paid the $1.00 fee and a few days later Margaret emailed me that I was good to go.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Bryan Higby: Funny story; In the industry the joke is don’t worek with kids or animals. I worked kind of with both. The entire cast (13 kids) were excellent. Professional as you’d ever hope for. I on the other hand screwed up royally. I guess maybe that I was wearing too many hats, director, producer, writer, camera man etc… but at some point I forgot to turn on the shotgun mic. I didn’t notice this until we wrapped. The cast was gone and I did the playback only to realize the audio was missing. So I had to go back and loop room tone and all the foley work including calling back my three main actors to redo their dialogue. Not fun.
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?
Bryan Higby: Going into the Dollar Deal you know the rules. I wasn’t blind to that but it does still suck that there isn’t a wider range of exposure. My film has played at the Lowville NY Dollar Baby festival, Hudson Valley Community College, Watertown NY Snowtown Film festival, the George Eastman Kodiak Museum last October Halloween. Of course the film can be shown at any festival as long as there is no cash prize and of course King watches it. So that’s cool.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Bryan Higby: Nothing but good reviews from the people who’ve seen it. Marsha confirmed that King rec’d the film but not sure whether he has watched it yet. Curious story about King and my film. When I pitched the story to Marsha to produce Here There Be Tygers in my home town of Lowville NY, I asked for permission to do a Dollar Baby film festival at the historic Town Hall Theater. She and King gave me permission and Marsha told me that Stephen was both very interested in my production as well as Lowville NY because he had realtives who lived there for a time. King also wrote about Lowville in Firestarter and The Stand. Marsha said that Stephen might come to our festival but at the last moment AT&T decided to greenlight Lisey’s Story and since King wrote all the episodes he needed to be on location for the filming. Major disapoinment.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Bryan Higby: I’m still planning to show the film at any festival that will accept it. Anthony Northrup is also publishing a Dollar Baby book of interviews and will be using my interview and his review of Here There Be Tygers. He really enjoyed the film.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Bryan Higby: I’m a huge King fan since age fifteen. He was the reason I became a writer. My favorite adaptations are – The Dead Zone, Christine, The Dark Half, I also like Doctor Sleep. Of course The Shining by Kubrick is my favorite King film but as well all know not a great interpretation of King’s source material. Now I’ve written thirty opf my own novels because of King, most are in the Horror/Dark Fantasy/Thriller genres. My Amazon Author link is here: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CWEFNVS
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)?
Bryan Higby: Like I mentioned not sure if King watched my version of Here There Be Tygers. I know of only one other version done and then the story was removed as an option on-line. That makes our version special. Marsha and margaret were my go betweens. But I’m hoping some day that I can meet Mr. King and his family. I know that Owen just lives in New Paltz NY about an hour away from me in East Greenbush NY.
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?
Bryan Higby: I have considered doing another King story. Also I’m working with a professional DP now named Steve Ciferelli. I met him when Hudson Valley invited me to the North Country Film Exchange Lab last November. I was invited because of Here There Be Tygers. That lab is also where I met my Entertainment Lawyer, Paul Rapp. Since meeting Paul I now am submitting my book IP (Intellectual Properties) to major producers. I’m not sure which King story I’d like to do next. Ultimately I’d like to solve the dilema everyone seems tro have with adapting the Dark Tower series.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Bryan Higby: I’m finishing a new novel, Old Men. Its an upmarket noevl with one big toe dipped in Alchemy. It’s a novel different than anything else I’ve done, and much longer at 110,000 words. I’m also in preproduction with Steve Ciferelli for a feature science fiction horror film this summer titled: Public Access to the Cosmos. Its a story of a blue collar worker who stumbles across an old residence that is filled with notebooks that change his DNA from normal man to something else.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Bryan Higby: I think most people I’ve met over the years are surrpised that not only am I a writer but that I‘m so prolific and am married with three kids.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Bryan Higby: I’d like to say to the fans of Stephen King keep loving the work. Keep pushing writers to turn out compeling believable characters and check out my stuff. Like I said I’ve been a King constant reader for thirty years. The proof is in my novels: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CWEFNVS
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Bryan Higby: I’d like to thank you Oscar for having me on this site. I’d also like to thank all the readers who dig my material! Keep chugging along folks!