She is the woman behind In the Deathroom Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: May you introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you and what do you do?
Nicole Jones-Dion: I am an LA-based filmmaker who specializes in genre films. I started out as a screenwriter on films such as DRACULA – THE DARK PRINCE (starring Academy Award- winner Jon Voight), TEKKEN 2 – KAZUYA’S REVENGE (based on the video games), and THEY FOUND HELL for the SyFy Channel. I directed my first feature, a YA sci-fi film called STASIS in 2017 that is currently available on Amazon and iTunes.
SKSM: How would you decide that shoot movies was your mission?
Nicole Jones-Dion: As a screenwriter, you have very little control over the finished film. You basically hand off your script to the producer and director, and then they can do whatever they want with it. I realized that if I wanted to ensure that the end result matched my vision for the film, I was going to have to direct it myself.
SKSM: Could you tell our readers the status of In the Deathroom or some updates?
Nicole Jones-Dion: We are currently in post-production. Right now, we’re about halfway through the initial assembly edit.
SKSM: Who would be involved into this project?
Nicole Jones-Dion: This is a true indie, nearly everyone who worked on it wore multiple hats. I wrote, directed, and produced. I had a lot of help from my co-producers: Suzi Owen Scott, James Moorer, Jane Hare, Karen Vasquez, and Lenox Knight (who is also one of the stars of the film).
We were really fortunate to assemble such an amazing cast. In addition to Lenox, the film stars Scott Bailey (TIMELESS), Mario Rocha (ASSASSIN X), Andrew Bering (COUNTERPART), and Michael Anthony Perez (CHANCE). Viewers might also recognize Crystal Mantecon (DRAGON EYES) and Lauren Elyse Buckley (BILL NYE SAVES THE WORLD).
Mario Rocha who plays “Escobar” was also our stunt coordinator. Our production designer, Mark Fenlason, was also our 1st AD. Our DP, Rachel Dunn, is also our colorist. I think the only person who only has one job to do is our composer, Harry Manfredini (FRIDAY THE 13TH).
SKSM: How come you picked In the Deathroom to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Nicole Jones-Dion: From a story standpoint, I liked that IN THE DEATHROOM isn’t your “typical” Stephen King story. It’s grounded in reality — no ghosts, nothing supernatural. In fact, the monsters in this film are the people, and we see what horrible things they are capable of doing to each other, like in MISERY. But like any good Stephen King tale, there are rich, layered characters and unexpected twists and turns along the way.
SKSM: I guess it’s very soon to asking this question but… where the premiere will be? Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Nicole Jones-Dion: Too soon to tell just yet. Hopefully it will be ready to screen in time for Halloween.
SKSM: Did you know that this story has already been filmed as Dollar Baby? Have you seen any of these adaptations? If so, what do you think about it?
Nicole Jones-Dion: I was aware that other adaptations of the story existed but I haven’t watched any of them. I wanted this to be my own unique take on the story, without any outside influence. I think ours is the only version with a donkey, but I could be wrong?
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Nicole Jones-Dion: Yes! I grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina where they filmed most of the Stephen King movies back in the 80s. As a kid, I remember when they were filming FIRESTARTER, SILVER BULLET, and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. It seemed like everyone in my school had Stephen King fever. It left a huge impression on me growing up.
FIRESTARTER is probably one of my favorite stories, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with the director of FIRESTARTER on other projects since then.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1?
Nicole Jones-Dion: I forget how I first learned about the Dollar Baby program… it was like a rumor that you hear and immediately dismiss because it sounds too good to be true. But it’s real. And I’m very grateful to Mr. King for making his stories available to us. It’s been such an amazing honor to adapt his material, even if it’s just short form.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Nicole Jones-Dion:Nicole Jones-Dion: I just finished adapting a true-life poltergeist story into a TV pilot that we’re currently shopping around town. It’s one of the most insane haunted house stories I’ve ever heard… and it actually happened.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Nicole Jones-Dion: I grew up in a haunted house but I was the only one in my family who never actually saw the ghost. Everyone else had some sort of an encounter with it (even the cat!). After we moved out, the new owner had a brain aneurysm and died in his 30s. I think that house might actually be cursed… there were a lot of deaths there.
SKSM: What advice would you give to those people who want to be filmmakers?
Nicole Jones-Dion: Don’t wait for permission. No one else will care about your career as much as you. If you want to be a filmmaker, don’t wait for the perfect opportunity — it will never come. You just have to get out there and do it… and do it… and keep on doing it until they can’t ignore you anymore.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Nicole Jones-Dion: Stephen King fans are the best fans in the world. Look for IN THE DEATHROOM when it hits festivals soon!
SKSM: Would you like to add something else to this interview?
Nicole Jones-Dion: Here’s a fun little factoid from the shoot:
That canyon where we filmed the rebel camp was haunted. According to the the property owner, back in the early 1800s, there was a large settlement along that river (80-90 people). One year, there was a strong rain and a 30-foot wall of water came rushing into the canyon and instantly washed out the entire community – men, women, and children.
While we were shooting the scene with the nuns and the soldiers, one of our crew members (who is very psychic) could feel children tugging on his clothes and hear them screaming, “Make the bad men stop! Make the bad men stop!”
I thought that was super creepy and appropriate for a Stephen King film.