She is the filmmaker of I Know What You Need Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: May you introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you and what do you do?
Julia Marchese: Hi! My name is Julia Marchese and I am a filmmaker, actor, writer, podcaster, cinephile and Constant Reader living in Hollywood, California.
My first film, 2016’s Out of Print, is a documentary about the importance of revival cinema and 35mm exhibition and preservation to culture. It features interviews with filmmakers such as Rian Johnson, Edgar Wright, Kevin Smith, Joe Dante, Mark Romanek, John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Joe Carnahan, Tom Holland and many more.
Out of Print was shot half on film and half on digital, and I was so thrilled to have a 35mm print of the film made. The film won the Programmers Award at the Sidewalk Film Festival and has played at art house cinemas, universities and film archives all over the world. The film is available on DVD, Amazon Prime and streaming & the 35mm print is still touring the world, having just played the Film Archive in Austria earlier this year. The film print lives now at The Academy Film Archive in Hollywood between screenings.
SKSM: How would you decide that shoot movies was your mission?
Julia Marchese: I’ve loved movies since I was very small, and have been an actor since I was a kid as well. I have directed plays since I was quite young, and I moved to LA to act, and have been in several independent films and plays. Out of Print was my first film, and I was able to fund the film via Kickstarter and learned how to make a film by making a film – from pre-production to post-production, screenings, festivals, press and distribution, I went through every single step with passion for cinema and joy of learning. I love the immortality of cinema, and the ability it gives you to view the world through another person’s eyes.
SKSM: Could you tell our readers the status of I Know What You Need or some updates?
Julia Marchese: We are in pre-production right now. Looking to start casting soon, which will be critical, since the short focuses on three main characters with a lot of dialogue, and each character character – Edward especially – go through really drastic character arcs. We want to do as many local hires in Maine as we can, and pay some local businesses for the use of their locations, and really show off the beauty of the state, so that’s something that we will shortly begin to delve into.
SKSM: How come you picked I Know What You Need to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Julia Marchese: I have an affinity for strange fictional characters – examples being Arnie Cunningham from Christine, or Norman Bates from Psycho, or Martin from Romero’s Martin – these broken boys that are so messed up, but also you kinda just want to cuddle them? (Before their psychotic break, natch). King describes Edward in the second paragraph of the story, and I was totally on board. He’s described as unkempt, with thick glasses, an oversized fatigue jacket and mismatched socks – my heart was won. So from that point on I was really along for the ride with Elizabeth, the main character, who meets Edward and is charmed by his strangeness. She knows something is weird about him, but doesn’t know how weird.
It’s a very small and contained story, with very little flashiness and I like that about it. It’s also an incredibly creepy story about manipulation and the line between love and obsession. But no matter how spooky the story is, it is – at its core – a love story. It features a character who has powers that have been used in other King stories to bring down secret government agencies, burn down proms and stop future tragedies from occurring, but in this story they are used for love. An intriguing premise.
I am keeping the film set when the story was first published in Cosmopolitan Magazine, in 1976. Partially because I am a true lover of vintage aesthetics, but also because of logistical reasons – the story would change completely if it took place in a time when the internet exists. I tried as hard as I could when adapting the screenplay to keep the script as close to the story as possible, keeping much of the existing dialogue.
Every adaptation of one of King’s stories is a different version of that same story – seen through that filmmakers eyes – and I think that is what makes the Dollar Baby program so fascinating, and why King probably still wants to see all of the finished adaptations – because you can never tell how someone else interprets your work. And I think I can safely say no one else sees this story like I do!
SKSM: Where would you like your movie to premiere?
Julia Marchese: It’s interesting, isn’t it, making a movie in 2021, while we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, because this all starts to take on a hypothetical gist. So if you’re asking me dream movie theater? If location and time and pandemic were no object? I would say either the Egyptian in LA or the Prince Charles Cinema in London, but I love so many independent cinemas around the world, and if it’s my fantasy it gets to play at them all!
SKSM: Would you like your film to be screened at a particular festival?
Julia Marchese: Film festivals are definitely in a sea change right now with the pandemic and the future of moviegoing and cinemas up in the air (which breaks my heart). I of course want to see my short screened at a giant film festival with a huge, enthusiastic audience – every filmmaker wants that. But I don’t think that will happen for a while. So I don’t know, I just have to keep moving forward and see what happens! I cannot WAIT to (when it is totally safe) get back in the cinema and watch movies with an audience again.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Julia Marchese: I am a HUGE Stephen King nerd. I started reading his stuff on the bus in junior high at about 11 years old – IT, Pet Sematary and Carrie were my first books of his and I was sucked in from there. In junior high I enthusiastically made all my friends watch Pet Sematary and even dressed like Post-Micmac-Burial-Ground Gage Creed for Halloween one year as a kid. I’m hardcore.
I realized three years ago that I had never tackled his master work, The Dark Tower series. This needed to be remedied immediately. So I devoured the books, loving each one more and more and starting to panic as I neared the end of the series. I didn’t want the story to end!! I got to the 11th stanza in book 7 – The Song of Susannah (Constant Readers will know where I mean) where the reveal was going to be so good and I was so excited, that I needed to prolong that feeling as long as possible.
So I decided to pause my reading there and read every Stephen King novel and short story related to the The Dark Tower (there are A LOT, over 40 short stories and novels combined!) before re-reading the Tower series (and then continue on to the Marvel comic series omnibuses and The Dark Tower companions after that). It’s taken me two and a half years so far and I am still working on it. It’s the most incredibly brilliant literary multiverse puzzle that I have ever undertaken, and I am enjoying putting the pieces into place more than I can say.
My favorite works, besides The Dark Towers series, are The Long Walk, IT, The Talisman, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Firestarter and, of course, I Know What You Need.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1?
Julia Marchese: I must have heard about it because of Frank Darabont? I just know that I read I Know What You Need, thought to myself – how DOES one get the rights to a Stephen King story? Looked up his website, messaged them, and here I am with a contract!
I think what I love most about Stephen King is that he gets it – he certainly doesn’t need the money from these Dollar Baby shorts, and we know he understands that because he sells the rights for a dollar! But he is interested in helping out fans of his that want to film his stories, and he has the curiosity still to see what comes out of it. The fact that it is in the contract that you have to send him a finished copy of the film to view just proves what a caring, super cool guy he is.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Julia Marchese: In October of 2018, I went on a pilgrimage to Maine to finally visit all of the towns I read so much about all of these years – Portland, Bangor, Pownal. I drove around the gorgeous state and was entranced – I had never seen the changing of the leaves before! I took an amazing Stephen King tour of Bangor and was in absolute heaven walking around “Derry” and seeing the canals, the storm pipe, the bird baths, Paul Bunyan, Pennywise’s drain, and even Stephen King’s house itself. It was like walking through one of his novels. Pure bliss.
SKSM: What advice would you give to those people who want to be filmmakers?
Julia Marchese: I would say be sure to follow the passion you have for the film and to work towards the vision of the film in your head, but not be obsessed by it. Ask your crew for help in assisting you on what you need to learn more about and include their ideas – it’s a group effort. Also, work on your organizational skills. Very important. And remember, like Elvis, you gotta Take Care of Business in a flash.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Julia Marchese: I also host a podcast called Horror Movie Survival Guide, where my co-host & take a deep dive into a different horror film each week, focusing on how you can survive that film. We have covered MANY Stephen King films, of course! I also started #stephenkingsunday through the podcast, where I post something Stephen King related every week and a nice group of Constant Readers get to chat about it, it’s been very nice! Check me out at @juliacmarchese on all social media platforms and lets talk King!