He is the man behind Mute Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
D.J. Hartman: I fell in love with movies when I was six, that was when I saw my first real movie, “Predator”. After it was over I knew right then that that was what I wanted to do for a living. I started making short films on a camcorder starring my brother and sister and writing screenplays. Then Life struck and I had to grow up and get a job. I was a land surveyor for 10 years before I was laid off. At which point I decide to sit down and write a feature screenplay called “The Other Side of Dark“. It garnered some accolades from agents, but I was never signed to a deal. Then I met Travis Milloy (writer of “Pandorum”) and he told me to just start making movies on my own, so here I am.
SKSM: When did you make Mute? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
D.J. Hartman: We began filming “Mute” in September of 2010. We took our time with it, only filming about a day a week. It was difficult getting everyone together. Everyone has regular jobs, so It was usually just me running around getting random shots. We finished filming the first week in January. The budget on this film was only $150. Most of that was spent building the confessional. Other than that we just ran around in public trying to shoot scenes, or asked family to let us use their homes. We went extremely low budget.
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
D.J. Hartman: I wanted to pick a film I though we could pull off. This was only our second film and I didn’t want to bring any shame to Stephen King’s name, or my own for that matter. I started to read Stephen King’s short story and I was hooked on it from the beginning. Ideas started flowing right then and there and I just knew this was the one I wanted to do.
SKSM: Are you satisfied with the end result or would you now do things differently?
D.J. Hartman: Considering what we had to work with I am happy with the final product. I do think If I had a better camera, that the darker scenes would have looked better, but you gotta work with what ya got.
SKSM: What kind of problems did you run into while filming?
D.J. Hartman: The biggest problem was that we couldn’t find a church that would allow us to film there. Many of the Catholic churches in my areas would not even return my phone calls. You mention Stephen King’s name to a priest and they all get the wrong idea. It’s like they thought we were going to have satanic ritual there. We were lucky to find a priest who was very open-minded and understanding and he’s actually in the 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?
D.J. Hartman: I read about it online somewhere. I can’t remember where now, but I remember reading that Frank Darabont was the first to do it back in ’83, and I thought that was good company to be around. After I found out I immediately went to his website to get more info.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
D.J. Hartman: I wish there was. After the first film we did, everyone was intent on getting everything right. For my first film we had a blooper reel that was longer than the actual film. For “Mute” I didn’t have any footage for a blooper reel. We all got much better.
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?
D.J. Hartman: That would be cool if Mr. King allowed it to be released online or DVD in the future. Until then I’m fine with showing it at festivals and to people like you.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
D.J. Hartman: So far, everyone that has seen it has liked it, however, they are all family members and they’ll tell me they love it even if they don’t. But my brother hates everything. He’s my toughest critic and he actually liked it. I tend to believe him.
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)?
D.J. Hartman: Unfortunately, I did not have any contact with Mr. King other than the contract with his signature on it. I hope he watches the film and enjoys it. It would blow my mind to get a good review from the man himself. I have been a big fan of his since I could read and it would make my year to know that he liked my film.
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?
D.J. Hartman: At the moment, I don’t have any plans to adapt another Stephen King work, but that’s not to say I won’t. Although if I could pick any story of his I’d love to adapt “Roadwork“. I know that’s a novel and the rights are not available to his novels, but I just love the story. The idea of a man taking revenge against a society that wronged him, the themes of losing someone close to you and slowly going insane as you try to cope with their death. It’s a terrific story, not to mention it’s different from Mr. King’s other work.
SKSM: you are at home or going to the movies, what kind of movie genre would you prefer?
D.J. Hartman: I like all movies, but I find myself drawn more to horror. Any kind of horror. One of my favorite films of the last 5 years is “The Mist“. To this day I swear the scariest film I’ve seen is “Creepshow“. “They’re Creeping Up on You” has scarred me for life.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
D.J. Hartman: Not a problem. I guess to my fans, I’d like to say I hope you exist some day.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
D.J. Hartman: Just that I appreciate You, Danny, and Oscar allowing me this opportunity to show my film at your festivals. It’s nice to meet other people who care and respect Stephen King’s work as much as I do. Thank you very much.