He is the man behind Bike Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
David Toms: I’m from Birmingham, UK. I’ve been writing and directing short films now since 2007 (including several that will never see the light of day again!). I’m currently writing some new projects and I also work in broadcast TV production.
SKSM: When did you make Bike? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
David Toms: Bike was a project that began it’s life in late summer 2011. We were about to start planning our final project at University. Mike Peace & James Colley (both co-producers) mentioned they’d been reading about Frank Darabont and his successes with a Stephen King Dollar Baby film. After an online search we were convinced it was the way to go. Over the next week, we’d picked our story and sent off our application.
We had a modest budget of just over two-thousand pounds, which was all out of our pockets. Due to an exchange trip, we were in China throughout pre-production, this made the planning rather difficult, but everything came together before we got back and began shooting.
After months of pre-production, we began shooting in March 2012. Filming took place around the West Midlands for four days in total – one day on a rural road in Kinver, Staffordshire and then three days in the main character’s apartment in Birmingham.
We were very lucky to have found Stephen Hope-Wynne, who is a very talented passionate actor and brought incredible intensity to the role of Richard (the lead character).
Despite the film being five years old, it didn’t see the light of day for at least three years as I wasn’t overly proud of some of the quality issues. The camera was overexposed in a lot of the road scene, which made large chunks of it unusable and the focus is soft quite a lot. I finally got round to recutting it the year before last and I’m pleased with the result. It might not be perfect but I hope it gets across the essence of what we intended.
SKSM: How come you picked Stationary bike to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
David Toms: I remember being sat on a bus on my way back home when I was reading through the synopses of different short stories that were available. I don’t recall why, but this particular story just jumped out at me. It really was doable in terms of scale and the inability to know what was real and what wasn’t, was a theme I was fascinated to work with.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wikd guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
David Toms: As mentioned previously, James and Mike (co-producers) had read about it – I believe from an issue of Empire Magazine.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
David Toms: I remember being sat in the car waiting for the actors to arrive on the dark rural road. We were about to shoot the scene where Richard confronts the metabolic work crew. I was nervous as this was biggest project I’d ever directed and it was a challenging shoot. The local council had allowed us to block off a layby to film in, but we needed to do it darkness so we needed to stop for traffic. Thankfully, there wasn’t much traffic at all so we wanted to try something different.
The camera operator Bex suggested we try a chase with the bike and the van, I reluctantly agreed and we tried it. We had Bex sit in the boot of the car, whilst filming Stephen on a bike, in front of the workmen in a van. It was a nightmare to time and risky, but when I looked at the footage the next day, we’d captured a really cool sequence and it was so worth it.
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?
David Toms: I understand his reasons for restricting it, I mean, it’s his story you’re adapting, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really frustrating at the time. We were very worried about even putting a trailer on YouTube, as we were only allowed 3 minutes of footage to go online.
I’d like to see it ease up a bit, but some restriction is probably a good idea to stop people taking liberties with the system.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
David Toms: As mentioned by your previous question, only a few people have seen the film all the way through due to distribution restrictions, but those that have seen it have given us positive feedback.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
David Toms: Yes, I’m delighted to say that the film will be screened at the 2017 Dollar Baby Film Festival in The Netherlands, which is really exciting.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
David Toms: I really enjoy King’s writing and definitely some of the adaptations. The latest film IT was fantastic. I really love The Shining (both book and film). I really enjoyed reading some of his short stories actually, it’s some of his best work.
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)?
David Toms: I unfortunately haven’t heard any feedback from his people about the film. I sent it to them via DVD and didn’t receive any response.
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?
David Toms: As the Dollar Baby terms only mention film students, I’d be reluctant to adapt any more of his short stories at this stage (unless that rule changed). I do however still use some of the dramatic tools I learned from Stationary Bike and adapting it.
If given the chance I would enjoy a crack at Mute, as I think it’s a really interesting premise.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
David Toms: I’ve just finished work on a short film called Astrosapiens, which is set inside a psychiatrist’s office and shows the assessment of an astronaut she goes on a one way mission into space. We’re waiting for several festivals and the NASA Cinespace competition to get back to us about if it has been well received.
Next on the horizon is a TV pilot I’ve been writing set in the mid-to-late seventies about a man who goes to Spain to leave his broken marriage behind, but gets involved in the criminal underworld.
I’ve also just completed a lengthy contract working on a TV documentary about the West Midlands Fire Service.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
David Toms: I’m quite scared of moths…no, seriously.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
David Toms: Thanks for having me on to chat about Bike! You can keep up with my work on www.davidtomsfilm.com and also on Facebook and Twitter – https://www.facebook.com/davidtomsdirector/ & https://twitter.com/davidtoms