Dion Schumann

He is the filmmaker of Do the Dead Sing? Dollar Baby film.

SKSM: Tell us about yourself, who is Dion Schumann and what do you do or have you done?

Dion Schumann: My name is Dion Schumann. I’m 27 years old and a filmmaker from Hamburg. In addition to various short films, I made my debut film “True Natures Child” in 2022 with Niklas Leifert, Torsten Voges (The Big Lebowski), Charles Rettinghaus and Alexandra Kamp, among others. My current project is the mini web series “All the guests have left“, which is running on Amazon Prime and has been nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Series at this year’s DieSeriale. Once again, well-known German artists such as Lars Nagel, Kalin Heidinger and FM Einheit can be seen here. Klaus Barkowsky -Hamburg pimp and co-founder of the infamous Nutella gang- also plays a role.

SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?

Dion Schumann: Ever since I can remember, basically. I’ve always made up stories as far back as I can remember. Film is the ideal medium to bring different artistic mediums together and make a narrative visually emotionally real. I love nothing more than bringing my ideas and characters to life.

SKSM: When did you make Do the Dead Sing? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Dion Schumann: I love dark material. And I love Stephen King. At least since my mother read “IT” to me at bedtime when I was 8. I was already familiar with the Dollar Baby program before that. In 2017, while I was studying film, I got more involved and wrote an application for fun. Then Ms. Morehouse got back to me relatively quickly.

SKSM: How come you picked The Reach to develop into a movie?

Dion Schumann: Somehow the story appealed to me the most, precisely because it is more of a novella and I found it the most complex to realize. Especially when you’re working with small or no budgets. I wanted something that was challenging. I also found the story particularly eerie and at the same time very touching. Few stories manage that, in my opinion. But Mr. King is of course also an old master.

SKSM: This short story was first published under the title Do the Dead Sing? Why did you choose to keep the original title?

Dion Schumann: I actually wanted to call the movie The Reach or Do the Dead Sing? but its publisher wouldn’t let me. I found a question as a title more exciting, especially because of the cryptic resolution at the end. That’s my favorite part.

SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?

Dion Schumann: Hard to say. It’s a matter of taste. Perhaps the confrontation with one’s own mortality. Loss. Loneliness in old age. What happens once you’ve died. Is there anything at all? Topics like that. I don’t think it’s necessarily the horror. It would also work without supernatural means. It’s more the various anecdotes from the life of the main character Stella that come together like a mosaic. The ghostly apparitions that are woven into it were more metaphors for me. Metaphors in the sense of unspoken wishes, dreams and regrets. It’s hard to say.

SKSM: Can you tell us about your experience on this film? Was everything planned ahead or did some things change during filming?

Dion Schumann: The shoot went well. We were a tiny team with no money. The classic difficulties, of course. Equipment that was missing. Incomprehensible stage directions. A school class that ran across the set in the middle of the shoot. (We were filming in a historical museum village). In the end, the fun, the team spirit and the experience prevailed.

SKSM: You are both the director, scriptwriter and the producer, how did you experience that?

Dion Schumann: It was great fun and very exhausting. At some point you lose your distance from the material and I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be good or bad. I particularly enjoyed the adaptation from the novella to the script. Then directing, casting. Endless post-production. At a certain point, I had the feeling that I was getting slightly senile dementia myself, like the main character.

SKSM: Did you make any changes from the original story? How do you think (or would you like) the audience to react about this?

Dion Schumann: I took a few creative liberties. If I remember correctly, the story never really addresses the fact that she has Alzheimer’s or dementia.

I crystallized this aspect more in terms of the ghostly apparitions. The scene with the child molester is one or two passages in the story. I came up with a complete scene of my own and wrote dialog for it. It was somehow too short for me in the book.

SKSM: What do you think of the film now it’s finished?

Dion Schumann: It could be shorter, creepier and with less voice over. I should have taken out the son’s joke about the crab fishermen. It doesn’t work somehow. For me, it’s like a first music album. Some songs are cool. Others are still a bit unmelodic. The next album will be better and rockier. Or more melodic. You know what I mean.

SKSM: Were any movie fragments cut out that you now miss?

Dion Schumann: Hardly. I was actually pretty clear about how and to what extent I would implement everything. What I take from the story and what I don’t. In hindsight, I should have shortened it more.

SKSM: Are there easter eggs hidden in the film?

Dion Schumann: Not specifically. But I have quoted a few shots from Luis Buñuel’s Un chien andalou. I’ll send you an example in the appendix. Or the smashed skull of Daniels is based on the one ghost from Crimson Peak by Del Toro.

SKSM: Can you share with us any significant moment or memories that happened on set?

Dion Schumann: Would love to tell a funny anecdote, but it’s been too long.

SKSM: What has this experience left you from a professional and human point of view?

Dion Schumann: You know, they’re all real, between the words. Deep down there beneath all the pale layers of paper.

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?

Dion Schumann: I read about it on the Internet. I didn’t think it was that easy.

SKSM: Now the Dollar Baby program has been disbanded, do you think that an Internet or DVD release could be posible?

Dion Schumann: Not really.

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?

Dion Schumann: Unfortunately no reviews, as we didn’t run anywhere.

SKSM: Where was the film premiered?

Dion Schumann: Unfortunately nowhere due to goddamn covid.

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Dion Schumann: No. But I would be open to finally presenting the movie to a larger audience.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Dion Schumann: King is cool. I like Apt Pupil, The Dark Tower, 11/22/63.

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)?

Dion Schumann: Only with Ms. Morehouse. She said Mr. King had too much on his plate.

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?

Dion Schumann: No. Once is enough. I actually always write my own material. Another story from him would be like telling the same joke twice.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Dion Schumann: Currently working on a horror movie told from two perspectives. From the perspective of an alcoholic author and a psychiatric inmate who thinks he is invisible. Called “The sunny days are over”. Look out for it.

SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Dion Schumann: I’m going to be the best German horror filmmaker one day. But it will take some time.

SKSM: What is in the top 5 on your bucket list? (Everything is possible and nothing is too strange)

Dion Schumann: Secret. But you will be the first to see it.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Dion Schumann: Check out my series “all the guests have left” on amazon prime. It’s pretty dark.

SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?

Dion Schumann: Don’t do drugs.

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