He is the man behind All That You Love Will Be Carried Away Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Chi Laughlin: I’ve spent the past eleven years making wash machines on assembly line in a small Ohio factory town. I’m a pretty serious cineaste, though, and I read a lot.
SKSM: When did you make All That You Love Will Be Carried Away? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Chi Laughlin: I made my version of “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” over a four-day period in late January, 2008. I was applying to film school and the deadline was 1 February. I had never made a film before, and I knew that I’d need one for my application to have a chance, so I checked into a hotel room and, working alone, shot the film in two days with a Canon HV20 camcorder, then spent the next two days editing on my PC. Not counting a ring I had stolen from my hotel room, the film cost $180 to make — the cost of a room for two nights and three HDV cassettes.
SKSM: How come you picked All That You Love Will Be Carried Away to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Chi Laughlin: I’d read the story years ago, when it was in “The New Yorker” — it’s a very powerful piece — and I must have filed it away in my subconscious mind. A week before I filmed it I was driving past this hotel with all the snow and farmland behind it, and the King story came back to me. It was perfect for my needs: A brief story with one location and one actor. I could shoot if fast, and cheap and still have a powerful film.
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?
Chi Laughlin: I knew about the dollar deal, but I didn’t know the details at the time. It was just something I’d read somewhere that came back to me along with the story.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Chi Laughlin: I think one of the most professional looking parts of my film is the final shot, when I’m staring off into the night and counting to sixty. I knew I’d have to alter the story for this part because I was working alone and didn’t want to leave my camera unattended while I ran out into some farmer’s field. I imagined the shot beforehand, from inside the hotel, the blinds open and me standing, backlit, in front of the window, staring out across this landscape. When I checked into the hotel, I insisted that I have a room facing the south, just so I could get this shot. Then I got into my room and found out that the hotel was under construction and all the windows on that side of the building had been covered with plastic tarp. I had no view. I had to deal with it, though, because I was working with a very strict deadline. As luck would have it, mine was the only window in the hotel where the plastic tarp had torn loose in one corner. On the first night of shooting, around one o’clock in the morning, there was a very light snowstorm. I stopped what I’d been doing and set up for that last shot. What with the way the wind was blowing, that tarp took on a life of its own. As I’m staring out the window, it billows gently back and forth, almost beckoning me. I’m sure my description doesn’t do it justice, but I don’t think I could’ve hired a production designer to give me a better shot.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a video/dvd or internet release again would be possible?
Chi Laughlin: I respect the nature of the deal. If Stephen King doesn’t want these films out, then I submit to that. I made the film for one reason, to get into film school, and on the strength of the film, I got into all of the schools I applied to. In this way, Stephen King’s dollar deal opened up some doors for me that I could not have opened otherwise, and I have to respect his wishes, whatever they may be.
SKSM: Did you know that before you where five other versions of “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away ” and if you know did you choose another story to adapt into a Dollar Baby?
Chi Laughlin: I didn’t know about the other versions until after I made mine, and that’s probably best because I might’ve been discouraged from doing it. The idea came in a moment of sudden inspiration and I pounced upon it without hesitation.
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)?
Chi Laughlin: I’ve sent him a copy but I don’t know that he’s seen it yet. Honestly, I’m afraid that he won’t like the liberties I took with the story. My tone is much darker, I think, than his. Not better, but certainly darker.
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?
Chi Laughlin: I don’t plan to. Of his stories, I liked “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” best, but — and this goes beyond the scope of the dollar deal, I’m fondest of certain parts of his memoirs, particularly the writing of his first story to please his mother, and that incredible moment years later when he finds out how much he’ll make from the paperback rights of “Carrie.” His elation, and waiting for his wife to come home to share it with her, those are very moving to me.
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?
Chi Laughlin: Thank you for reading.