He is the man behind Love Never Dies Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Peter Szabo: I’m a professional writer and write for software companies during the day. As a writer and a life-long film lover, I also developed an interest in writing screenplays. In 2006, I wrote, directed, edited, and produced my first short film, “A Day in the Life of a Psychopath.”
In 2006, I produced the documentary, “Change Now for the Future: Perspective from Guelph’s Street Youth.” Since then, I co-produced the short film, “Numb,” produced a music video, and produced the feature film, “Dead Genesis,” which has foreign and U.S. distribution on DVD, Blu-ray, and cable television.
In 2008 and 2010, I wrote, directed, produced, and edited two more short films, “Mona and Theo” (based on Shakespeare’s OTHELLO) and “Too Low” (an original, satire of corporate culture).
SKSM: When did you make Love never dies?
– April 2010, I obtained permission from Stephen King to adapt his short story, NONA, into a film.
– May through November 2010, I wrote the script adaptation
– Film production was March 13 through April 3, 2011 on weekends only.
– Post-production was from April 2011 to October 2012.
SKSM: Can you tell me a little about the production?
Peter Szabo: I used DSLR cameras, which simplified production in terms of not needing to load tape or film, and being able to shoot up to 45 minutes of footage on one SD card.
I rented the camera, lights, and audio recording equipment from a local media arts centre. A second camera was donated by the First Camera Assistant.
I hand-selected and invited crew for paid key roles and invited some but also used word-of-mouth for volunteer production assistants. Principal crew were paid a predetermined fixed amount, based on amount of effort.
Before production, I took the 2 lead actors on a tour of all the locations in the same sequence they would appear in the finished film, so that they could feel experience the journey of their characters.
Before and during production, I met with the camera crew (DP and camera) regularly, with weekly face-to-face production meetings between shoot dates. Plus we had regular email exchange for call sheets and important details, and stored schedules, release forms, production plans, scripts, and any other production documents in a shared Google Drive folder, for all to access.
SKSM: How much did it cost?
Peter Szabo: $10,000 (CDN)
SKSM: How long did it take to film it?
Peter Szabo: One and ½ years
SKSM: How come you picked Nona to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Peter Szabo: I liked the psychological obsession of the main character, and his susceptibility to suggestion from Nona. I could easily imagine a suspense thriller movie and thought the story had a lot of interesting visual scenes. I also thought I could easily remove the supernatural elements (for example, the giant rat imagery) to simplify the production and create a more human story.
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?
Peter Szabo: A fellow filmmaker of mine mentioned that he’d read the Frank Darabont (Director of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist) got his start with a Dollar Baby short film. I searched on the Internet and discovered the Dollar Baby page on the official Stephen King web site. I selected NONA from the list of stories and then contacted Stephen King’s office to request permission.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Peter Szabo: Nighttime exterior temperatures were unseasonably cold. Brought sleeping bag to keep lead actress warm between takes.
Lighting rig blew over in the wind on an exterior set, causing an hour delay.
One street location was apparently remote and quiet at night. We learned there was a local factory with shift workers that let out during our shoot causing repeated delays due to traffic control issues
The fog machine effects technician jumped into a ditch to avoid being in a shot; he twisted his knee and tore his ACL. An on-set nurse examined the injury and declared it wasn’t too serious. A P.A. drove the technician home and shooting resumed.
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?
Peter Szabo: It’s a little frustrating that King fans and any film lover can only see the movie at festivals. It would be nice if King’s office released collections of the shorts on DVD/Blu-ray, or sold them on iTunes. I’m not too concerned about making money but would like the film to get wider distribution.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
Peter Szabo: Fortunately, I have only received good reviews of the film. Personal praise from Fangoria Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief who saw the movie in Toronto at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Independent Horror Film Festival. KINGS THINGS newsletter from the Stephen King Fan Club in The Netherlands published a very good review, in which Danny Paap wrote, “this film belongs in the top 10 best Dollar Baby films.”
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)?
Peter Szabo: No personal contact. I have sent a Blu-ray copy but have not received any acknowledgement or notice of whether he watched it or liked 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?
Peter Szabo: I would like to make a 90-minute feature length trilogy of King short films that would include Love Never Dies (NONA), plus film adaptations of WILLA and MRS. TODD’S SHORTCUT.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Peter Szabo: I’m quite proud of LOVE NEVER DIES and hope every King fan has a chance to see it. If do see LOVE NEVER DIES, I’d love to hear your opinions and feedback.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Peter Szabo: Thanks for the opportunity to share my experience with making LOVE NEVER DIES.