He is the man behind Nona Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Georges Terryn: My name is Georges Terryn. I am a television director. I make a daily soap “THUIS” (translation = “HOME”), it is the number one success program in Belgium with 45-48% of market share. I also write screenplays, novels, I paint a bit. I am somewhat of a lens and technology nut.
SKSM: When did you make Nona? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Georges Terryn: We shot Nona in November-December 2014. It took me 3 full years to get it produced and then we shot it in 6 days. That is what you learn from shooting daily soaps: speed. And then later we needed 2 days for some extra shots. Nona cost about 120.000€, which is a lot of money to spend in one week.
But the post-production took us another year! We shot all exteriors in front of a huge green screen (except the fight at the start and even there are green screen shots intercut). We developed snow plug-ins, and all sets are 3-D models we built.
I think that works very well. Most people don’t even notice that.
SKSM: How come you picked Nona to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Georges Terryn: I remembered the story from long ago, when I first read it. I liked the crazy love story and I also find it great to have sympathetic killers. It takes a long time in this story before you start to think these kids are crazy. At first you like them and you even like them after they have killed two people. Only then you start to wonder what are they doing? I also liked the idea of creating a “Stephen King Maine World“ from nothing. I also liked the ‘60s drop-outs, with the Frankfurt School philosophy (Adorno, Marcuse, (and some McLuhan thrown in), nobody seems to read that into these Stephen King stories, but I do.) And also that fact the story is an immoral love story, making it inaccessible for mainstream cinema, no redeeming ending here! And very much NOT SOAP.
SKSM: Are you Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Georges Terryn: I have been reading Stephen King since I went to film school before 1980. Firestarter, The Shining etc. I have a reasonable collection of King books easily 40 volumes. And proud to add: some autographed limited special editions. I liked 11/22/63 very much and Joyland too. Films: The Shawshank Redemption / the Shining. The others seem a bit all the same: Under the Dome series was good enough to want to see the second series.
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?
Georges Terryn: I had heard stories about dollarbabies before. On a rainy summer day I was again surfing and found that special page on stephenking.com, wrote an email and the next morning I had a yes in the mail. Then I sent money because: “do nothing until I have received your dollar.” (a fresh 1 dollar bill).
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Georges Terryn: Funny? We had so much trouble getting the funding that I went to London to find a co-producer. Then suddenly others wanted to be on board too. Then we had the money, but had to change cast again. It took us so long the original contract expired. Luckily we could extend it for another year. But then my dollar got lost in the mail. I had to send another dollar. So this is the most expensive dollar baby ever: it cost me three dollar!
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Georges Terryn: We are planning as many festivals as we can! We are already at Katra film festival New York may 9th, we have 1 in L.A. in the fall. There is quite a lot of interest in NONA. Other festivals are calling us. Funny too is that Europe seems to be least interested.
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?
Georges Terryn: They can see Nona, if they go to the festivals! Shortfilms have never had a big following or market. I knew that was the contract. I don’t mind. That is why I am shipping the film to any festival that wants it. Of course I like as many people to see it as possible. But in the case of a dollarbaby they should make an effort. Stephen King does something he doesn’t have to with his dollarbaby, so I think I should return that with doing an effort getting it out there. (Yes it is costing me a lot (in production as well as in distribution) But as with everything that is worth something for you, you have to make an effort to read it, see it, to understand it, to appreciate it and get it out there. I like it that way. Also you are free to do what you want: no commercial strings attached.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
Georges Terryn: Bad? Nothing yet. Honestly. (There was this one shot that a lot of viewers said something about, so we changed it and made it better) That is what you can if you are your own producer/director.
Good? People like it a lot about Nona: they like the acting (cast), costumes, special effects, the story, the music (!!!). I like the light a lot and some special shots.
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)?
Georges Terryn: No, I haven’t had any contact with him. I don’t know if he has seen it or not. I’d like to think so. Did he like it? I hope it did give him a few minutes of entertainment. I loved making it and I still like it as I make the copies!
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?
Georges Terryn: There are no plans for making another dollarbaby at the moment. If I could have done a Stephen King feature I would have liked 112263. It is so strong visually; you can see it as you read it. Such a good story: very Philip K. Dick like. Changing the past to change the future. I like that idea.
SKSM: What are you working at nowadays?
Georges Terryn: I am still doing that soap. But I am writing a feature film. A romantic love story set in Brussels in 1840. The writing is going great. I hope to find funding in the next year…
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Georges Terryn: The top shot with the dead cop ? Cheapest shot of all: 60 meter of wires, two pulleys for 5€ and one stabilizing 3,30m of wood. Barely any snow no bridge, no train: all that is 3D in post. Which my genius co-producer Stefan made.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Georges Terryn: Listen to the music.
Stoyan Ganev is from Canada! He proposed to write the original score and Stratsimir Dimitrov (also from Canada) did the 5.1 mix and threw in a stereo mix too. It is really great! I just listened again at full volume 5.1: amazing quality. These guys are going all the way: you’ll hear from them again. I am sure.
I think these are strange times: you can do an international co-production on a 1 dollar Stephen King film from different countries and continents. We had half of our actors coming by high-speed train from London. We had props and real costumes (police and Vietnam vet) from Ebay for next to nothing. You can send your files up and down, get music from the other side of the world (CANADA), discuss it over Skype and get what you both love! Amazing that international co-productions on such a scale are possible for anyone now, on a very limited budget. We shot RAW on the cheapest BlackMagic 2K! We edited on a suite we got from a video facility that went broke. Amazing really! I love it. Thank you all and…
Thank you Stephen King!