He is the man behind King’s short story All That You Love Will Be Carried Away Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Robert Sterling: Well, I’m a 4th year film student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in directing, and I’m getting ready to graduate this coming May. I write, like most filmmakers do, and am in the process of directing a feature film which I have also written. I grew up in Houston, Texas, and first discovered my love of filmmaking in high school.
SKSM: When did you make All That You Love Will Be Carried Away? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Robert Sterling: I made “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” at the end of my 3rd year here at the school. We used equipment and film stock that the school provides us and also a small budget of around $2,500. We shot on an Arri SR3 16mm camera, and the entire production took four days to shoot.
SKSM: How come you picked All That You Love Will Be Carried Away to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Robert Sterling: To tell you the truth, a producer friend of mine named Josh Dove approached me with the idea of writing an adaptation of the short story, so that is how I got involved with making it. I think what I like the most about the original story is the loneliness of the character, and it’s themes dealing with fate or a higher power. Of course I brought out these things a little bit more, as the short story does have some humor in it, my adaptation does not strictly adhere to the story itself.
SKSM: Are you satisfied with the end result or would you now do things differently?
Robert Sterling: I’m very satisfied with the end result and don’t really think I would have done anything too differently. The reason being we actually shot the film twice, which is an interesting story that I’ll get into a bit later. I actually watched it not very long ago and feel it might be a good idea to speed the pacing up a little bit in some instances, but other then that I’m very happy with it.
SKSM: Why is yours differently than the original story?
Robert Sterling: Well, the original story has the benefit of being “in the character’s head”, that is, we as the reader can listen to what Alfie, the main character, is thinking because Mr. King writes it out for us. This works well in novels or short stories, but I didn’t feel it would work when transferring it to the screen. I would have needed to employ heavy use of voice over in order to achieve the same effect as the story and I felt that would be a little cheesy, which is why I invented the alternate plot involving the waitress in the diner. I could cut back and forth between the two scenes while also overlaying dialog over both scenes, thus giving the effect of voice over without having the main character speak to himself in his head. The waitress could also function as a way to get insight into Alfie’s backstory.
SKSM: What kind of problems did you run into while filming?
Robert Sterling: Ok so here is where I’ll explain why we needed to shoot the film twice. The camera we used the first time we shot had a faulty lens mount, therefore we could not tell if something was actually being shot in focus or not. It looked through the eyepiece on the camera as if the image were in focus, but when we got the footage back from the lab everything was out of focus, so that was the biggest problem. We had to petition the school to let us shoot it again and thankfully they found a way to make that happen. Other then that we really didn’t have many problems.
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 Sterling: My producer friend Josh Dove and I had heard that Mr. King had done that kind of thing in the past, so we attempted to reach him about letting us have that opportunity. I’m very thankful to him about it as well.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Robert Sterling: Wow there are probably too many to list, but I’d have to say the one that stands out to me the most was on the last night of filming. We had one more shot to get off, a dolly shot out through the window revealing that Alfie is looking at a street light. We didn’t have much film left and therefore could only do one take of this particular shot. I called “action” and cued the actor playing Alfie to bring the pistol up to his head, but I cued him a bit too late, and we didn’t get him bringing up the gun on camera. When the film came back from the lab, we saw that the reflection in the glass window we were dollying towards actually caught Alfie bringing the pistol up to his head, which was much more effective then the way we originally planned the shot. So this was a happy accident.
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 Sterling: To be quite honest I don’t feel too bad about it! I’m just very thankful that Mr. King let us have the opportunity at all to make something based off of one of his works. The film is just under 15 minutes long I believe so there really isn’t any kind of money making opportunity with it. Mr. King did allow us to send the film to festivals, which is all we really wanted from the deal.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
Robert Sterling: I’ve actually gotten pretty positive feedback about the film, which was quite a relief! At my school especially people really seemed to enjoy it. The only “negative” comment I’ve gotten on it so far is that it seems a little slow, but we had originally intended it to be a bit slow to reveal itself.
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 Sterling: No, I never spoke with Mr. King personally, we made the deal through his attorneys and the original producer of the film, Josh Dove. We also received some help from faculty at our school as well as the Dean of Filmmaking. It just so happened that the dean of our school shares the same agent as Mr. King, so that is how we initially got in touch with him. I have no idea if he has seen the film or not, but I hope he does watch it at some point!
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Robert Sterling: Oh yes, all the principle crew members are all my good friends. The cinematographer was Josh Quick, who really is very talented and one of my best friends, the film would not have been as good as it is without him. Jesse Andrus, another one of my very good friends, was responsible for the fantastic editing job and I see him daily. Josh Dove as mentioned before was the original producer, and Alex Roth finished up the producing job when Josh had to leave the film to attend to another project, I see both of them all the time as well. Cara Rhodes was the production designer on the film, who also did a wonderful job, and I also keep in touch with her.
In terms of the cast, the main actor Jason Scott Quinn recently moved to New York, so I have not been able to speak with him recently, but he was great to work with and I would not hesitate to cast him in the future in anything that I happen to do. Mia Vallet, who played the waitress “Clara” in the film, goes to my school so I bump into her from time to time, and she did a great job for us. Zach Hankin played a clerk in the hotel as a little cameo, but he really is a wonderful actor and a fantastic friend, and I’m using him in a much larger role in the feature film I’m shooting.
SKSM: Did you know that there were six other versions of All That You Love Will Be Carried Away before you started?
Robert Sterling: I knew that other people had made it before, yes, but I did not know there were six previous versions!
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 Sterling: Oh wow, that is a tough question! Making another film based on a work of Mr. King’s is not in my immediate plans but I of course do not want to rule anything out! So many of his stories have already been made into films or television series so I wouldn’t know what to go with now, but I’m sure there is something out there of his that is yet to be adapted and is an incredible story, I’ll be on the lookout for it!
SKSM: When you are at home or going to the movies, what kind of movie genre would you prefer.
Robert Sterling: I don’t actually have any kind of preference to a movie genre, it usually depends on how I’m feeling what type of film I want to watch. I’m currently in the process of filming a comedic feature film, which I wrote, and am co-writing a science fiction trilogy with a very talented friend named Rodrigo Pena, if that helps answer the question at all!
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Robert Sterling: Well I haven’t even graduated school yet so I don’t know if “fans” is the right word, haha, but to anybody out there who has taken the time to view my work I sincerely appreciate it. I am very grateful for it!
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Robert Sterling: Yes! I would first and foremost like to thank Mr. King for giving us the opportunity to make this film. It was very gracious of him and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Hopefully one day I have the pleasure of returning the favor he gave us, it was truly a great thing to do.
I’d also like to mention my wonderful family for helping me along in the process of making this film, especially my mother, who was there every step of the way hearing me complain about any certain situation or reading any draft of the script I sent out to her. It really was a great help.
I’d like to thank “Stephen King Short Movies” for taking an interest in my project!
And a final thank you to the entire crew and cast of the film. It could not have been made without any one of those people and I sincerely appreciate the help you provided. It was a great set to work on and truly is one of the best times in my life (thus far). I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it anytime soon.