He is the man behind I Am The Doorway Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Joe Kowalski: My name is Joe Kowalski and I’m an independent filmmaker hailing from Cleveland. I’ve directed four films, about 300 Internet shorts, and countless commercials and promotional materials. I also do a lot of freelance work and co-host a podcast that’s been going on for over 70 episodes.
SKSM: When did you make I am the doorway? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Joe Kowalski: We made it at the end of last year (2016). The production was fairly straightforward. I was working on a film called Prism at the time that we were introducing in a film festival event because it was only half an hour long. We were still looking to fill our allotted time, and it just so happened that my girlfriend at the time had told me about the Dollar Baby Club. We started working on our version of the story that summer and filmed the entire thing at almost no cost in a weekend.
SKSM: How come you picked I am the doorway to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Joe Kowalski: Given that our main budget was going into Prism, we wanted a story that we could adapt at a low-cost and with minimal stress. My girlfriend at the time suggested Doorway because out of all of them it was one of the few that seemed to meet that criteria, especially if we took out the scenes with the characters in outer space. We then added a framing story to fill it out a bit more.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wikd guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Joe Kowalski: I had heard about it years ago and thought it was an exceptionally cool opportunity. It wasn’t until last year when my ex read about it that I started taking it seriously however. The funniest part about the whole agreement for me is that it had to be paid with a literal dollar bill. It couldn’t be a check, or a PayPal payment, or anything other than a crisp dollar.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Joe Kowalski: Filming the scenes by the beach turned out great visually, but it was in actuality a horribly cold and windy day. This is why I typically try to film my movies in the summer! All the voices in that scene had to be overdubbed later, because there was no way the original audio would have been usable.
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?
Joe Kowalski: It’s unfortunate, because we’re very happy with the final results. Yes, it was cool premiering it at the festival event, but I wish there was a way to display it online, even if it means we had to pay an additional fee. An Internet/DVD release would be fantastic, but currently the contract stipulates that we can only show it privately or at other festivals.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Joe Kowalski: Neither yet outside of the original festival event, although we are submitting it to further festivals. That’s the tricky part about not being able to display it much!
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)?
Joe Kowalski: I did not, but that would be a dream come true if there’s any possibility that he had a chance to view it!
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Joe Kowalski: Currently I’m opening a studio space for freelance work with some friends, continuing work on our podcast, and still putting out new shorts every other week. I have a few other film ideas and other secret projects gelling that I may start working on later this summer.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one stroy to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Joe Kowalski: There’s already so many adaptations of his work, but the man writes so much that there’s still plenty out there. My ex is a much bigger King fan than I am, and introduced me to some of his other works that might be cool to dream about. It might be fun to do an updated, film-length version of The Stand.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Joe Kowalski: Hi!
SKSM: Would you like to add something?
Joe Kowalski: Thank you for taking the time to interview me. It’s been a pleasure!