He is the filmmaker of One for the Road Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jacob Sanders: My name is Jacob Sanders, but I work professionally as Jacob Norlin. I was born in Manitowoc Wisconsin I am the son of music educator Paul Sanders and theatrical actress and director Edie Norlin. I lived around theater my whole life. My mother has been acting since she was a child and, when we relocated to Ohio, she acted semi-professionally in Columbus. My mother and her side of the family are big movie buffs covering virtually the history of American cinema. Knowing the names of actors, directors and producers in my parent’s house is a form of currency. I attended the Ohio State University and graduated with B.A. in Film Studies.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Jacob Sanders: When I was in my senior year of high school I opted to take a “study hall’ class which was not actually a class but a supervised period where one could work on assignments from another class. The teacher for the period, in an unusual decision, allowed students to play movies they brought from home during class. In retrospect it was quite unusual and surprising she got away with it. It was in this class that I realized all of the people involved in the production process and I began to see filmmaking as the industry it is.
I attended the Ohio State University and graduated with a B.A. in Film Studies. Unfortunately, at the time, OSU did not have a competitive film production program. Film Studies is a discipline where you watch and study movies and then write essays about them.
What I learned about actually making movies I learned from a modest but present filmmaking/commercial production industry in Columbus Ohio. In virtually every major city in the United States there are at least a few working professionals in the film/video industry. These communities are often small and cliquish. When a major motion picture roles into town for one reason or another they’re the ones who get the call before anyone even knows its happened.
SKSM: When did you make One for the Road? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Jacob Sanders: Preproduction for One for the Road lasted a long time. I wrote it back in 2013 and it wasn’t shot until 2016. It was my second short film and my first short to be shot on a digital camera. We shot it with the RED Scarlet. I wanted to be accurate to the short story and it was important for me to shoot while there was snow on the ground. I raised money mostly from my family through Indiegogo and later partnered with Fractured Atlas. Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that accepts artistic projects under its umbrella which allow the project to be tax-exempt and those who contribute to it financially can deduct the money they gave from their taxes.
One for the Road was an ambitious project. It may have been beyond my abilities at the time to handles, but it excited me. Attempting to recreate a snowstorm on camera was no easy feat. Not only did we shoot at night in freezing temperatures but I also set up fans blowing potato flakes at the actors. I approached the short from a serious film perspective. I spent an entire night shooting the dialogue inside the car. That car was loaded up on a trailer and pulled up and down a rural cul-de-sac all night. I even hired a police officer to be present so we could do that legally. Because we shot at night and out in a rural area it wasn’t obvious the car was raised about 3 feet higher than it would be if it was on the ground. In professional films they use a process trailer which is a special car trailer that is much lower to the ground than a regular car trailer. I don’t think process trailers are street legal. We made do with what we had.
One for the Road was virtually entirely storyboarded long before we ever shot it. I had a strong vision for what I wanted and was fortunate to get what I wanted most of the time. We shot in an historic bar in London Ohio. The bar sits on an historically significant highway called the National Road. The National Road was built in the early 1800’s and several presidents used the road as well as stayed at the site of this particular bar that once served as a hotel.
The process of finding actors for the short was a long process that lasted over a couple years. I had at least one actor who was onboard from when I first asked him. The short had two different cinematographers who never actually met during production. All post-production was handled by me. The short cost about $9,000 USD.
SKSM: How come you picked One for the Road to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Jacob Sanders: I selected One for the Road because it was an earlier Stephen King short story, from his Night shift collection. Although King has written short stories his entire career their tone changes as he ages. King’s earlier shorts fit more decidedly into a genre (often horror). I felt if I was going to adapt a King short story it better have something explicity supernatural in it.
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?
Jacob Sanders: During college I took a screenwriting class and it was mentioned a couple times by students and the instructor that King offered the rights to some of his stories for one dollar.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Jacob Sanders: When I finished shooting and was working in post I realized I needed footage of a snowstorm. I found a man’s website in Rhode Island who had shot exactly what I was looking for. He set up a large green screen outside and shot a snowstorm falling in front of it. However, I couldn’t afford what he was charging for the stock footage. So I reached out to him and explained what I was doing. He responded that he was a Stephen King fan and because I was shooting a Stephen King short he gave me access to his footage for free. I am indebted to him for this contribution.
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?
Jacob Sanders: After I made the short it has come to bother me a lot that the rest of the world can’t see it. Before I released One for the Road I found another production of it that the filmmaker had allowed to be completed online on IMDB.com. I reached out to King’s rep to see if something had changed and if I could put my entire short online. I was told in no uncertain terms that that was forbidden.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Jacob Sanders: The greatest reception of One for the Road came from Anthony Northrup. I was somewhat surprised to learn, after I finished the short, how little many people knew about King and his work. It felt as though some people I showed the short to had no idea what to expect. Almost like they had never heard of King, but of course they had. Anthony is a true King fan and he immediately appreciated the level of seriousness I took with the project. I wish that all King fans could see it because it’s really for them.
No matter how hard you work on something, people will have their opinions. It is by no means perfect, but I am proud of it. Of all the adaptations I’ve seen of One for the Road it seems pretty good.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Jacob Sanders: It screened at the Nightmare Film Festival in Columbus Ohio which has become an exciting rising film festival in the horror scene.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Jacob Sanders: Although I’ve read some of King I wouldn’t call myself a King fan in the way more serious fans are. I have a great deal of respect for him and I read articles about him frequently, but I don’t read his new books when they come out.
My personal favorite King story is The Langoliers in Four Past Midnight.
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)?
Jacob Sanders: Unfortunately, I had no contact with King. I did, as per the agreement, send him a copy of the short. I have no idea if he watched it.
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?
Jacob Sanders: I have no desire to shoot another dollar baby. Although I have great respect for King and his stories, I’d much rather shoot something that I could release online.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Jacob Sanders: I live in Nashville Tennessee and work at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. After One for the Road I shot a speculative T.V. pilot called Players about a dysfunctional community theater in middle America. I now work in Theater and Performing Arts administration.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Jacob Sanders: I don’t think there’s anything particularly surprising about me or my life.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Jacob Sanders: I really appreciate your interest and the questions. I would love to share this short with your readers because it is for them. The fans of King the world over deserve to see it because it is they who can really appreciate it.