He is the man behind In The Deathroom Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Damon Vinyard: My name is Damon Vinyard and I am a filmmaker here in Los Angeles, CA. I work at a post production house during the day, I bartend at night, and I shoot freelance video for people on the side to help raise money to take on the projects that I am passionate about. I am working hard to build up my reel enough that one day I am only producing and directing projects and I can quit all the other jobs!
SKSM: When did you make In the Deathroom? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Damon Vinyard: I started “In the Deathroom” around early 2009. Once I got the paperwork finalized with Mr. King I started saving to be able to shoot the film. I took on every part of the film by myself from casting, to scouting locations, to obtaining every prop on set, to booking a 12 person crew, to obtaining every bit of equipment needed, and on into post production. Every thing came out of my pocket.
I shot the film over one weekend, two days in fact. It is a SAG production short film so I had to follow the union guidelines for the actors which meant I could not have them on set for longer than 12 hours and I only had two days to shoot it because all the money I had revolved around me shooting it over the two days. The first day we only got one take in before I had to break for lunch, so basically we shot all 18 pages in 18 hours, because I had six more hours to shoot that day after lunch and I had 12 the next day. After all was said and done the film cost me around $15,000. The main portion of that was for the location, the camera, and the sound engineering. The sound was very important to me so that is what I spent the most money on. I feel if the sound isn’t good, no matter how well it is shot it takes the audience out of it.
SKSM: How come you picked In the Deathroom to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Damon Vinyard: I liked this story from the beginning, it was one of my favorite’s in “Everything’s Eventual“. The turn in this one got to me, when I found out the whole reason he was going through all of this was for the revenge of his sister, I thought it was fantastic. I fell in love with his character and I wanted to tell his story visually. There are other shorts of Mr. Kings that I like more but I knew I couldn’t afford to shoot those. This one was one location and five actors so I could focus one the acting, the production value, and the story, without spreading myself out over many locations and actors and such.
SKSM: Are you satisfied with the end result or would you now do things differently?
Damon Vinyard: I am satisfied with the end result and of course like every director I would do many things differently, but hindsight is funny that way. I made a lot of rookie mistakes as a young director, but that is why I made this movie and why I put so much of myself into it. I need to know every single part of what goes into making a movie, so later on when I am getting paid to direct bigger projects I know exactly what I want, how to go about getting it, and I know why I tell someone to do something and not just expect them to do it.
SKSM: What kind of problems did you run into while filming?
Damon Vinyard: My main problems where that I was trying to take on too much during the shooting, well that and I didn’t put enough time into pre-production. I paid a lot for the location I was at but unfortunately they were filming a TV show outside of the building and I lost a lot of time and shots because of the noise they were making outside. I should have stood up for myself against them but they were a huge production and here I was with just a little 12 man crew trying to make it happen. I should have been more prepared also, I lost my location twice and booked the one I shot at the door before the shoot and so my shot list was messed up because I had centered it around the other location, so I didn’t get all the shots I wanted in because I wasn’t prepared well enough. I stayed up all night between the two nights of shooting trying to finalize a new one but with the lack of sleep I still missed a few important shots.
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?
Damon Vinyard: I did know about it before I sent him the check. I have known about his past with Frank Darabont because I am a huge fan of his work. I have followed all his movies and when I found out what he did for Mr. Darabont early on in his career I told myself that I wanted to follow that same path one day also. Unfortunately I am not the writer that Mr. Darabont is but I can, and will be, just as good a filmmaker.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Damon Vinyard: There weren’t any real funny moments I can remember off hand but there were many special ones, to me at least. I guess what was so special was the respect that everyone on my small crew gave me and how much passion my actors had for my project. It was humbled by the talent that everyone brought to the table for me, from the actors, to the makeup, to art department, to my DP’s, and everyone else that was there. I told you there were things that I would have done different about the shoot, those things are things I would have done different myself, because of mistakes I was responsible for, but as of everyone else that was involved with the project, there is nothing I would have changed about them
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?
Damon Vinyard: I wish everyone that was a Stephen King fan could see my film, that is because I am proud of it and love people to see it. As far as it changing, I don’t think it will, but I don’t think it should necessarily. I like the way that Mr. King has gone about it and I love what you all have done in promoting it through festivals, that is what I dreamed of doing since I was a kid, working my way up the hard way. With it not being released it gives it the independent feel that I love.
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)?
Damon Vinyard: I had no contact with Mr. King, only through one of his assistants who was fantastic in helping me to get everything done. I have not sent it to him yet because I would like to add some artwork to the disc I give him, or at least a nice dvd cover, but I haven’t had the money to get that done yet.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Damon Vinyard: I am still in contact with everyone from the shoot and I can’t wait to work with all of them again! I want to be able to work with them and give them the true compensation they are worth, unfortunately I couldn’t on this project. I want to have a small screening for all of them of the film, treat them to some free booze and food, but I have to come up with the money for it, but I have been saving for that, that is important to me.
SKSM: Did you know that there some other versions of In the Deathroom before you started?
Damon Vinyard: I think I did know there were some other versions, I can’t exactly remember. I have been in contact with one guy here in LA, Luke Cheney, who shot the same story and we have been trying to get together to watch each others work but we haven’t been able to lock each other down yet. That is mainly my fault because I work so much, but I am excited to see his work.
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?
Damon Vinyard: Ha ha, that is tough, there are many I like. One of my favorites of his has always been “The Long Walk“, I loved that story. I don’t know if I could shoot it though, I think it might be better on paper or in my head, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for myself. There is one in particular that I want to ask Mr. King about because I don’t think anyone has shot it because it is not a dollar baby and I know no one has made the film. I am very intrigued with it and if I find anything out about it you will be the first to know, but I am going to keep you in suspense on that one for now. I tell you one of my other favorites, which I would love to shoot one day, is “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon“, fantastic story.
SKSM: When you are at home or going to the movies, what kind of movie genre would you prefer?
Damon Vinyard: I love movies that inspire me. I haven’t seen a horror film in years, I had really bad nightmares as a kid so I kind of stopped watching them, plus just reading some of the scary ones is enough for me, and I have read most of Mr. King’s. Although I do not like it when people associate Mr. King with only horror, many people do not know the variety that he has in his writing, and when I mention some of the movies that are based on his work that they didn’t know about it really opens their eyes, which I love doing by the way.
I love true to life stories, these are the ones that I want to shoot. I love great characters, great surroundings, and great stories. I have never been into CGI, I appreciate it, it is fun to watch, I don’t really want to make those movies though. I want to be able to work with all my actors, not simply create them.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Damon Vinyard: Well my only fans are my family, my mother being my greatest, and I talk to her all the time, but maybe if you could send me a link to this interview on your website I can send it to her, she would think that was really neat.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Damon Vinyard: I just appreciate you taking the time and interest in my film as well as myself and if you are ever in Los Angeles please let me know so I can show you around my city!! (IMDb)