He is the man behind Willa Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
J.P Doná: My name is J.P. Doná, next year I’ll graduate in Cinema, I also have a diploma from Forcine, an event held by FAAP (a Brazilian University, with a preeminent reputation). I’ve already worked in a few short movies, scripts and a project for TV. I have many different jobs, I’m a writer (5 published books), tattoo artist and I work as a freelancer on weekends with surveillance and autopsy. At the moment, I’m working on my first documentary.
SKSM: When did you make Willa? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
J.P Doná: I started working on Willa’s script on 2012. The production was held back a bit by the bureaucracy we have for anything in Brazil. We had so many expenses on documents that we ended up short on money to invest in filming equipment.
It took us one year to shoot it, and now I’m just waiting for the translator to finish subtitling it. The idea was to make a movie 50’s style, but happening on the 80’s, and we see the images according to David; sometimes he sees things blurry and distorted when he gets closer of what he does not want to see, and when he is away from Willa, his world is black and white. I tried to make it very emblematic; as it is the first movie based on Stephen King’s work to be shot in Brazil, it had to be something very special.
Everything there has a reason, since the blurry image to the color changes.
SKSM: How come you picked Willa to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
J.P Doná: As soon as I read the story, I knew it was the one: it has romance, horror, suspense, humor and good music, so surely you will find something you like aling the story.
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?
J.P Doná: It was Suzana (translator, interpreter and also actress/make-up artist), who found out. I was looking for something to shoot when she came up with the possibility of making a Stephen King based movie. That was when she showed me “Just After Sunset”, and I decided we should make it a full-length movie instead of a short one.
J.P Doná: We had many funny moments, as well as many stressful ones, but the one I would choose to tell would be when we were shooting in Santa Mariana, a city in the countryside, in Paraná, where people’s lack of knowledge and culture almost cost us a beating. About 30 bikers, armed with bats and wood sticks came towards us, because they did not understand what we were doing, shooting at night, in pitch-black dark, in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, we had just left, so we just passed by them in our drive back to the place we were staying.
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?
J.P Doná: I would find it fantastic if everybody could see these movies. Maybe Mr. King could do something like “Creepshow”, or a tv series, with three stories at a time, and brief introductions between each.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
J.P Doná: We had many good ones, but one of the bad is some people’s lack of commitment and its effects on the production. We had to shorten the movie in 30 minutes less, and even substitute one of the actress in the middle of the project.
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)?
J.P Doná: I didn’t have contact with him, only his office. I’d really like to know how he likes the movies (specially mine ahaha), if he thinks they are good or not.
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?
J.P Doná: We are thinking about shooting “Stationary bike” or maybe “Big Driver”, but we still don’t know for sure and we are waiting to see how this first project will be received in the movie festivals, then we’ll shoot others.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
J.P Doná: I want to thank you for the space and attention you have been giving us. And as for the fans, I want to say that if everything goes right, next year I want to start organizing a Dollar Baby festival in Brazil.