He is the filmmaker of Godsend Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Michael Rowe: I’m Michael Rowe, an avid horror fan, filmmaker, and geek dad from Richmond, Virginia. Filmmaking has been a passion of mine for a few years now. I’d love to put more energy into the craft, but my 9-5 job unfortunaately takes a bit out of me.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Michael Rowe: When I was a teenager I fantasized about being a filmmaker, but always thought I would need $100,000 to produce anything. After watching a few short films directed by James Rolfe (Cinemassacre) in 2019 I realized that with a good story, a smart phone, and a talented group of friends/family, I could make a movie for only a few hundred dollars.
SKSM: When did you make Godsend? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Michael Rowe: After finding out about the Dollar Baby program I immediately read over a few of the stories and picked Mute. From there I started working on the script in November 2022, and began pre-production in January 2023. The project faced problems in the beginning with my lead actor quitting the project just before production. So, rather than waiting to cast someone else, I went ahead and took the lead role myself. We shot the scenes with Katie and Tulpa in March 2023, with Matt in April 2023, and final scenes with James in Dec 2023. With a low budget of $1,000 I had to base the shooting schedule on everyone’s availability based on their regular Jobs; so this project took a bit longer than it could have had I used profesional actors.
SKSM: Why did you changed the original title from Mute into Godsend?
Michael Rowe: With all of my projects, I never come up with a title until I’m wrapping up post-production. With the acting style of the cast, how the project effects me personally, and the vibe of the film during editing, the final product is rarely what I expected it to be during development. With this project, I deviated a bit from Stephen King’s original story and put much of my own personality into the film. As a result I felt that Godsend was a more appropriate title.
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Michael Rowe: I picked Mute because of all the Dollar Baby stories avaialble I thought that I could could present the plot effectively despite my low budget. The story itself is character and story-driven, which makes it easier to produce without having much for special effects, or too many actors and locations.
SKSM: In addition to being the film’s director and actor, you wore a lot of hats in the film. Can you tell us a little about this? What was the most difficult for you?
Michael Rowe: This is actually my first real attempt at acting, so that was by far the most difficult aspect. I directed every scene that I wasn’t in, while Tulpa served as the director while I was in front of the camera. I’ve made attempts to act and direct simultaneously in the past and have learned that it’s much better to hire someone else to do 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?
Michael Rowe: I initially wanted to créate a film based on a public domain literature like the the Bible or something by H.P. Lovecraft. While doing this research I heard about the Dollar Baby program from James and decided to go check that out instead, feeling that it would be more popular with my target audience.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Michael Rowe: I like to treat all of my shoots like a party that we just happen to filming a movie during. I want my cast to have fun so there’s usually food and drinks available. I thought the hotel scenes would be especially difficult to film but with the food and liquor, it quickly became one of my favorite shoots I’ve ever done. We were all drunk and just had a good time overall.
SKSM: Now the Dollar Baby program has been disbanded, do you think that an Internet or DVD reléase could be posible?
Michael Rowe: I don’t think a DVD reléase will be in the future. However, I intend to have this movie online in some format.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Michael Rowe: The movie is scheduled to premier sometime next month so I haven’t received reviews from the wider audience. I sent a digital copy to the whole cast/crew and they all had great things to say about it. Everyone’s happy with the final product.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Michael Rowe: I haven’t decided yet. However, I’d love to collaborate with Stephen King Short Movies to make that happen.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Michael Rowe: I’d say that I’m a fan of his work. My favorite books and adaptions would have to be Creepshow and Pet Sematary.
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)?
Michael Rowe: Unfortuantely, I haven’t had any contact with Mr. King. I’d love to have the opportunity, though I doubt he would be a huge fan of what I did with his work. I remember hearing that he didn’t like what Stanley Kurbick did with The Shining, so I’m not sure how he’d react seeing Godsend.
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?
Michael Rowe: I don’t have any plans for a future Stephen King movie unless I can acquire the rights to one of the novels. This, of course, will require a bit more funding than what I have.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Michael Rowe: Now that I’m wrapping up Godsend I will be going back to my “A History of Horror” series. Since 2020 I’ve been working on a series of reviews for horror movies that have come out in the last 50 years, providing some historical context surrounding them. I like to think of it like an Art History & Appreciation class but instead of looking at renaissance paintings, we’re focusing on horror movies.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Michael Rowe: Outside of a few scenes shot at Tulpa’s house, all of my productions have been done using an iPhone and a MacBook.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Michael Rowe: If you want to become a film maker, all you need is the time, patience, and drive. A Hollywood budget is nice, but certainly not required. I’m hoping that with Godsend, some of you will be inspired to begin, or continue, your journey of launching your own passion in creating films.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Michael Rowe: No, I think that about sums it up.