SKSM: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Devin Garabedian: My name is Devin Garabedian, and I’m a screenwriter from Toronto, Ontario. Though my primary focus over the past few years has been in science-fiction television work, I was persuaded into writing “Big Wheels” by the project’s director, Andrew Simpson, who is a close friend of mine. We’ve spent the better part of the past decade waiting for an opportunity to collaborate; this film is the result!
SKSM: You wrote the script for Big Wheels Dollar Baby Film. What changes did you make respect to King’s original text?
Devin Garabedian: I was totally unfamiliar with Stephen King’s “Milkman” shorts when Andrew brought them to me as a possible project for us to collaborate on. Listening to Andrew pitch the idea sparked a lot of ideas in my head; ideas about toxic masculinity, showmanship, and the power struggles that often play out between men. I started envisioning the project as a slow-burn thriller where the power dynamics of the three characters slowly shift over the course of the story, until the ending becomes the mirror image of the beginning.
And then I read the short. And while all of those themes are absolutely present in King’s story, they weren’t laid out in the way that I’d imagined when I heard Andrew’s pitch. The story as written is extremely internal — a lot of the tension and subtext plays out between the reader and the characters’ internal monologues. That’s a difficult thing to translate to the screen, no matter how effective it plays out on the page. So I stuck to my intuition and crafted a script that I hoped was faithful to the spirit of the original story, even if it played a bit fast and loose with the plot.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a screenwriter?
Devin Garabedian: When I was 16 years old, I went to pick up a DVD of Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” at Best Buy (big H.G. Wells fan!), and the cashier handed me a free copy of the shooting script. Apparently, it was being bundled with the first however many copies of the DVD. I’d always wanted to be a writer, and I’d always loved movies, but I’d never combined the two things in my brain until that moment. Thanks Josh Friedman and David Koepp!
SKSM: How do you communicate with a director to design a screenwriter strategy for a film?
Devin Garabedian: Communication and trust. Great movies can and often are made even when the creative team aren’t on the same page, but it certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier when they are. A script first exists inside a writer’s brain, and misunderstandings can happen when other members of the creative team (directors, actors, editors, etc.) step in to make the project their own. Sometimes those misunderstandings lead to happy accidents and wonderful, unforeseen evolutions of the material — and sometimes things just get lost in translation. The more comfortable and collaborative everybody is, the better the finished product.
SKSM: You worked in a Dollar Baby based on a Stephen King short story. It was your most challenging film?
Devin Garabedian: Certainly, in terms of size and scope. But if I’m being honest, the entire thing from my perspective was sort of a breeze — we had an incredible crew both above and below the line (many of whom are friends and colleagues of mine), and there was a lot of trust there. Writing the script for Andrew was a joy – our notes sessions were easy and comfortable – and the shoot was a blast. Everybody brought their A-game and I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun on set. Working with friends can really be wonderful.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Devin Garabedian: The same thing that attracts people to most Stephen King, I imagine — that wonderful tone, those memorable characters, that thrilling atmosphere. If we managed to capture even a tenth of King’s spirit in this, I’d say we exceeded expectations.
SKSM: Can you tell us about the filming steps? Funny things that happened so far (Bloopers, etc).
Devin Garabedian: We spent way more time than we probably needed to testing and shooting Mark Rival pretending to urinate on his own shoes. We were just having too much fun. No regrets.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Devin Garabedian: My latest pilot is circulating in LA as we speak, and a second one is being prepped by my agent for prospective packaging. I’m also working on a feature project that we’re hoping to get into production sometime in the next year.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Devin Garabedian: Who isn‘t? He’s one of a kind, and an absolute inspiration to writers everywhere.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Devin Garabedian: I am hopelessly obsessed with Cold War-era, d-grade science fiction movies. My idea of self care is lying in bed with the curtains drawn, watching the cheapest, low-budget thing I can get my hands on. I love them completely, and without irony. They’re delightful.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Something you’d like to tell our readers?
Devin Garabedian: The Dollar Baby Program is an incredible offering from Stephen King, and proves that you don’t have to be wealthy, connected, or experienced to make a movie. You can do it right now with your friends and a cell phone. I hope that the breadth of talent on display on this site encourages more people to take the leap and make their own Dollar Baby!