He is the filmmaker of Mute Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Kyle Dunbar: My name is Kyle Dunbar and I am a film director, writer and producer based out of Toronto, Canada.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Kyle Dunbar: Movies had always been in my life from a very young age, Disney and horror in particular. But it wasn’t until I was twelve and saw Snatch by Guy Ritchie, that was when I really wanted to go hands-on and experiment with storytelling.
SKSM: When did you make Mute? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Kyle Dunbar: I had signed for the rights to Mute in August 2020. The budget was just over $3,000. We shot it in segments from late September 2020 to early February 2021 in various locations just a couple of hours north of Toronto. We really wanted the places you see in the film to have that “Maine-look” most of his movies have.
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Kyle Dunbar: I enjoy nearly all of Stephen King’s stories, so it was difficult for me to choose one to make, but I knew I wanted something dark. Mute has that classic hitchhiker tale to it, but with a little more backstory. You give an act of kindness to someone and that person may repay the favour in their own act, but it may not be of “kindness”. I also like the back and forth between storylines, one dealing with the present, the other flashing to the past. The style King chose for this reminded me a lot of one of his Nightshift stories, The Boogeyman, so I wanted to draw some similarities from the Psychiatrist in that story to the Priest in my version of Mute. More of a fan-boy doing than anything.
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?
Kyle Dunbar: I had first heard of the Dollar Baby program when I was in high school. I never made a move on it, but I had always wanted to. I would check up on the Dollar Baby site now and again to see what stories were available since they change from time to time. I remember through college playing with the idea of adapting A Very Tight Place after seeing it was available. I also remember being bummed when it was no longer available, I waited too long. But it remained in the back of my mind to do one. In 2019 I had heard that a friend of mine, Andrew Bee would be acting in the Dollar Baby project, Big Wheels (2020) by Andrew Simpson, and that gave me a huge dose of inspiration to see how they worked with King’s material. So the idea of doing a Dollar Baby was looming more than ever. In summertime of 2020 I had time to catch up on some Stephen King short stories. I didn’t visit many people or have many visitors over the lockdowns, but one of the few visits I did have, a friend of mine randomly brought up the Dollar Baby site. I took this as another message and the time seemed right to make a project since I could reach out to some of the actors and crew I was interested in working with.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Kyle Dunbar: The whole process was special, from sending the dollar to now sending the DVD. I am very fortunate to work alongside Rebecca Callender, Andrew Bee and the cast and crew for giving their time to the project. Even the stressful moments making the film I have to take as part of the process that made the film what it is. I have too many funny moments to recount unfortunately, we’d be here all day!
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?
Kyle Dunbar: I hadn’t considered that many King fans aren’t going to be able to see it. I went into the program knowing that I would be limited on what would be done with the final product. Something like an internet or DVD release would be great. Even someday to have all the Dollar Baby films up for viewing on stephenkingshortmovies.com, maybe! But I am grateful that the film gave the cast and crew an experience, it can make a festival run, and in the end be sent to Stephen King’s collection.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Kyle Dunbar: Viewers seem to like the slow-burn pace. I have heard it is very unconventional and a throwback to the late 80’s early 90’s horror. To me this is a good review!
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Kyle Dunbar: Nothing in particular. I just want to have it seen by as many people as I can. But horror festivals are always a fun time.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Kyle Dunbar: A humungous fan. For books The Sun Dog, Insomnia, Thinner and The Library Policemen. For his shorts there are too many to name. Misery, Christine, The Dead Zone and Stand By Me have got to be his best movie adaptations (I’m leaving Shawshank out, because we all know with that one). And I have a very special place for the original Creepshow (1982).
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)?
Kyle Dunbar: I didn’t have any personal contact with Stephen King, but the DVD is on the way, I hope he enjoys 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?
Kyle Dunbar: Give me The Sun Dog! I couldn’t put it down and I think it is his scariest. After I finished it I thought why isn’t this story more well-known? We know of Cujo and Pennywise, but this villain has a lot of potential and I have many ideas where to take those characters. I have also always had an itch to remake Thinner. That also has another great plot and I feel I have an ending in mind that is different than both the book and the movie that was made in 1996.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Kyle Dunbar: An anthology movie is an ongoing brainchild. I am also working on a mixed martial arts inspired horror feature and 2 other screenplays that I would like to make.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Kyle Dunbar: I have an obsession with the tv sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Kyle Dunbar: Thank you everyone for taking the time to read the interview. And be sure to check out Mute (2021) wherever and however you can. I hope the fans find it satisfying.
And thank you Óscar for allowing me the time to talk about my version of Mute, and for putting together this special community for Stephen King fans and filmmakers.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Kyle Dunbar: I am always open for collaborations on projects from concept to screen. If anyone has any ideas for features and shorts they would like to workshop, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org