He is the man who wrote the script of The Words Of The Prophets Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
James Turner: I’m a recent philosophy graduate from The University of Sheffield. I’m currently looking for work to keep me occupied for a year before I go back to do a Masters and possibly a PhD. I’m working on my second novel while trying to find an agent for my first. I also play in a post-hardcore band called Sobriquet and am currently involved in promotional duties for our upcoming Ep. Akeldama.
SKSM: When did you make The words of the prophets? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
James Turner: We filmed it in the summer of 2015 and had it edited by summer 2016… I think. The production was equal parts fun and infuriating. We had a lot of trouble getting the movie to sound right and often had to film with a crew of only three people. But when it went smoothly it was a really cool experience bringing a Stephen King story to life.
SKSM: How come you picked All that you love will be carried away to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
James Turner: We knew from the beginning we’d be working with a small crew and a very limited budget – about thirty pounds, actually – so we knew we’d have to pick a story that required minimal locations and characters. All That You Love Will Be Carried Away is a story about one man in one room, and even though we added a couple of characters and locations to that, it still meant that our cast and crew list could be kept to a minimum.
In all honesty, ATYLWBCA isn’t my favourite King story. If I had the chance, the one short story of his I’d like to adapt would be The Man in the Black Suit. However, The Words of the Prophets was a good opportunity for us to learn how to adapt King’s work. His stories often delve deep into characters’ psyches, and because of that they are quite hard to adapt into film. We’d promised ourselves that we wouldn’t use a voice-over to convey the character’s thoughts, so instead came up with other ways to express his declining mental state. We went for parallel narratives, one lifted from the story itself, and the other fabricated by ourselves. Though this didn’t always work as well as we would have liked, I’m glad we did it rather than rely on using a voice-over.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favourite works and adaptations.
James Turner: Absolutely! King is basically the reason why I started writing my own novels. My personal favourite books of his are those in the Dark Tower series. We even threw a couple of Dark Tower references into WOTP.
As for adaptations, I’d have to go with The Shawshank Redemption. Frank Darabont seems to be the only person who can consistently nail King adaptations, and shows a profound understanding of why the stories are so good in the first place. It’s about the characters, people, not the scares.
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?
James Turner: I knew about the whole ‘dollar baby’ thing before I asked to adapt his story. How I found out about it, I honestly can’t remember.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
James Turner: Seeing as the movie is about graffiti, we filmed some scenes in a public bathroom. Well, a university bathroom. We filmed in the summer holidays so there weren’t too many people around, but we still had to cordon off the bathroom while we were filming – two dudes and one big camera in a unisex bathroom looks a little odd, you know what I’m saying? As it turns out, people don’t read signs, and we kept getting barged in on. Later, the security guard found us and told us we couldn’t film there without prior permission, and our excuse that “Stephen King said we could do this,” didn’t hold much water. We got round it eventually, but it was a real effort.
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 an internet/dvd release would be possible?
James Turner: It’s a shame people can’t see it, and if anything changes contract wise be sure that we’ll release it for all to see on YouTube.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
James Turner: Seeing as we’ve only screened it once and the majority of the people who have seen it have been somewhat involved in the production, we haven’t really had any official reviews. Audience reactions have been positive though. Some of our practical effects have had people jumping or squirming in their seats, and other than a couple of pacing issues that even we recognise, people have overall found the film quite enjoyable.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
James Turner: Not at the moment. Me and Mark are currently working on other films and have a lot else on our plates right now. However, if a Dollar Baby festival were to be held, we’d definitely put the WOTP forward.
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)?
James Turner: We had contact with his secretary when sorting out the boring rights stuff, and at the end we did send him a copy of the film along with a letter, so we assume he’s seen it, though he hasn’t replied so maybe he hasn’t. It’s more likely though that he saw it and didn’t think much of 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?
James Turner: I’d love to, though I’m not exactly planning on making any more. Writing and academia has taken over my life at this point. Though if the opportunity arose to take part in a bigger Stephen King project, I’d sure as hell want to be part of it.
The one story I’d really like to be involved in is The Gunslinger. I saw the Dark Tower adaptation the other day and oh my god was it awful. I think we just need to treat it as a mistake and start from scratch.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
James Turner: I’m currently working on my second novel while trying to find an agent for my first. I also play in a post-hardcore band called Sobriquet and am currently involved in promotional duties for our upcoming Ep. Akeldama. Film wise, I’m still acting and doing voice-over work, but only bits and bobs.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
James Turner: If we have any fans, thanks for fanning. If you want to keep up your fandom, follow me on twitter @JTAuthor. Most of the stuff I post is about the latest UFC events, but every now and again I’ll post something film/book related. I’ll also have a blog out soon, which I’ll post on my twitter feed, so there’s that to look forward to if you’re a fan of dry, pseudo-academic essays about morality.