He is the man behind Graduation Afternoon Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Robert Anthony Padilla: My name’s Rob Padilla, Jr. I’m an independent film director from San Diego, CA. I began working creatively in the music industry as a sound mixer and engineer, but then decided to pursue film. After graduating from film school in 2011, I was hired by Legend 3D a post-production visual effects house. I had the opportunity to work on some big budget Hollywood films as a 3D stereo compositor. I met some really cool people in the same field along the way.
Away from work some of my colleagues were also shooting films of their own so I caught itch to somehow get involved. I bought a camera and pretty much haven’t put one down since. I started off mainly doing cinematography and then moved on to directing around 2013. Since then, I’ve DP’d or assist directed at least a dozen short films; several which are original works of my own. I’ve also worked on two micro budget features and outside of that I’ve done some industrial and videography work as well.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I would say I’ve known since I was a teen that I aspired to do something in the creative field but I thought that was just a dream for someone else so I did not really pursue film until my late 20’s but I’ve always been a film fanatic. My first job was working in a movie theatre when I was 17 so I’ve always been attracted to cinema.
SKSM: When did you make Graduation afternoon? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Robert Anthony Padilla: We made Graduation Afternoon in the late spring, early summer, of 2019. Producer Luke Pensabene a long-time friend, I’ve worked with on other projects, introduced me to our writer Marie D. Jones. I brought on another friend Producer Romeo Nunez and we got to work on selecting a story and adapting a script. Everything after that seem to move forward like clockwork. It was a great team! For a 17-minute film we were able to shoot it for a fairly low budget; somewhere around 5K. It took 2 days to shoot with 2 half days of pick-ups.
SKSM: How come you picked Graduation afternoon to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Robert Anthony Padilla: All of the short stories from Stephen King’s Just After Sunset are great but I personally gravitated towards adapting a story that wouldn’t require to many practical effects or locations that would put us outside of our budget. So, I guess the choice was more of an economical one. Graduation Afternoon is a great story but it’s not your typical King piece. There’s no monsters, blood, or gore. It’s just unique.
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?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I never heard about dollar babies before this past year. It was brought to my attention by fellow producers Marie D. Jones (Writer) and Luke Pensabene but I’ve always been a fan of King’s work. I think it’s a very generous thing for Stephen to do considering he’s giving any filmmaker whose interested free license to recreate one of his works.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Robert Anthony Padilla: Two words. Wind blower. I don’t know think it was as entertaining for the cast as it was for me or the rest of the crew but we had to use an industrial strength wind blower to simulate extreme weather conditions. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time I’ll be use it either. So, props to all you brave souls out there that have to endure Luke’s wind machine in the future.
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?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I hope so. A lot of effort went into making this film. At the end of the day more than 25 people participated, which is like a small village. It would be great to see a showcase on some streaming platform… or for some to find inclusion into a Dollar Baby anthology. I think when King started the dollar baby idea it was a very different time. The internet didn’t even exist. So as long as we’re giving away the content for free I could see it benefiting both King fans and filmmakers alike.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Robert Anthony Padilla: Well so far only Producers have seen it and they seem to be happy with it so that makes me happy. Much of the cast and crew has seen the trailer and the response on that was great so I’m looking forward to future screenings.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Robert Anthony Padilla: We recently submitted to San Diego Film Week, have plans to enter a couple more here in town, and Los Angeles later this year.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I’m a big fan of The Shawshank Redemption and The Shining. Books wise I really enjoyed Misery and Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
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)?
Robert Anthony Padilla: We’re about to send it off to King right now, so who knows, but we’re hoping he likes 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?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I would like to do a modernized version of Christine or Firestarter. With Christine you can take it further now since cars are more high tech.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I’m working on a fan film series for Nightmare on Elm Street. The pilot script is already written so look for a teaser on that later this year. And I’m collaborating with my amazing writer from Graduation Afternoon, Marie D. Jones, on a grounded Sci-Fi film we hope shoot sometime in the near future.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Robert Anthony Padilla: I don’t speak Spanish. Everyone thinks I do.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Robert Anthony Padilla: Dollar babies are a great way to challenge yourself as a filmmaker with some great material. Give it a shot.