He is the filmmaker of L’homme Qui Aimait Les Fleurs Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I am a lawyer from Mexico based in Geneva, Switzerland. I deal with International Trade Policy and International Dispute Settlement. This is my day job, but I have a wide range of interests and projects, mainly filmmaking, but I also like to write, take pictures, and even have a podcast, “The Rodolfo Rivas Project“.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I remember falling in love with film when I was a teenager, and when I found out that there was a Director in charge of making films, I knew I wanted to be one. Growing up in Mexico, that was something that felt out of reach, so instead, I became a lawyer. In law, I gravitated towards Intellectual Property since at least it would be adjacent to something creative, like filmmaking.
SKSM: When did you make L’homme qui aimait les fleurs? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I shot the film during the first half of 2019 in three big chunks. It was mainly done after work and during the weekend. The main difficulty was coordinating the availability of my co-workers, who are also the co-stars. Due to their availability, I was unable to get all the shots I had in mind. This became more apparent when I was editing, but at that point, getting everyone back for additional shots was just impossible, so I had to make do with what was available.
I spent probably like 800 USD on equipment plus a new laptop and software.
SKSM: How come you picked The man who loved flowers to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I am a big Stephen King fan. I remember reading his work since I was a teenager, and back then, King’s work was not considered serious literature. I didn’t care about that; I just enjoyed it and thought it was well written. I think the appreciation of his work has changed in the last decade. I am thrilled there seems to be a revaluation of his work.
When I saw the list of available stories, I read all of them. I was only familiar with a couple of them, and “The Man Who Loved Flowers” was not one of them. I like the story, but there were also a couple of others that I liked as well. The deciding factor was trying to use what I had available to tell the story. I wanted to showcase a bit of Geneva, and “The Man Who Loved Flowers” seemed like the one with the best chance of using my environment. I knew I didn’t want to make a verbatim interpretation, but instead, I tried to capture the story’s spirit and make it work with the tools and environment I had available.
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?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: Like I said before, I am a big Stephen King fan, but somehow I never came across the Dollar Babies. Searching things online about Stephen King, I came across this and found a couple of films online. After seeing information on it and picking the story, I wrote a couple of paragraphs asking for the rights and thought it would take months before hearing back. I heard back just a few hours later. I was thrilled! Although Stephen King probably had nothing to do with the process, I still like to think that he read my request and approved it personally.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: The first shot that came to my mind was the POV shot with the hammer attack. That was the money shot, and I pretty much build everything around it. When we shot it, I was holding the camera from the POV, and we did the shot a couple of times, and it didn’t look real. I kept telling the protagonist to swing the hammer closer to my head. I had to say to him a couple of times more before we got it. A few days later, I realized that the hammer came pretty close, but it was too late to panic by then.
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?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: My film made it to a couple of festivals, and I have shown it at home to some friends. That, to me, is enough. However, it would be great for it to be seen widely, and if that ever happens, I will be happy to do it. What would be even better is for Stephen King to see it and perhaps get a nice tweet from him.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I have not heard or seen the bad reviews. Even if someone has pointed out something bad in the movie, they have also said some good things about it. What I like to hear is when someone points out something, perhaps the influence of a Director’s or maybe something that I thought was not evident from the film, and it puts a big smile on my face because I realize they at least got something out of my movie. After I finished the film, I actually could not watch it. I just kept seeing everything that did not work or could be better, but after many months I can see it for what it is, and it just makes me happy.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: It did screen at several festivals. I tried to make it to one for the screening but could not make it. It would have been great to see it with a crowd.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I am a big Stephen King fan! He is one of my favorite writers. I think Pet Sematary is one of his best books, and it resonates more when you become a father. I also like The Stand, IT, The Shining, and his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which I think is an excellent book for those wanting to learn more about writing.
In terms of film adaptations, I think Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the best horror films. I am aware Stephen King does not like it, but I think it is superb. I also really like Rob Reiner’s Misery. On non-horror adaptations, I think it is difficult to beat Stand by Me, also by Rob Reiner, and The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont.
On more modern adaptations, I love Frank Darabont’s The Mist, which I really believe improves on the original ending. I also like Andy Muschietti’s new adaptation of IT. Lastly, I think Mike Flanagan is one of the most talented directors working in horror, and he hit a home run with his adaptations of Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep, in particular, managed to weave King’s story with Kubrick’s strand.
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)?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I don’t think I did! I think it was just with the person answering the requests. However, I do like to think that Stephen King read and approved my request. Hopefully, he also got a chance to see my film. If he did see it, it would be great to hear his thoughts on it someday, perhaps in a tweet.
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?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I don’t know if I will, but it would be great to do another one. Before I learned about the Dollar Babies, I was toying around with adapting “Lunch at the Gotham Café”. Every time I walk into a Café, I always keep a close eye on the maître d’. The cover image in the “Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales” collection of stories is just something I would like to replicate for a film.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I finished my second film, titled “Drive“. My red Mini Cooper also makes an appearance, and in that one, I am the protagonist, not so much because I wanted to, but because it was easier than coordinating schedules. I have also been thinking of making a short film about zombies, but the logistics of that would require the biggest team I’ve ever used.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I am an introvert, so people always seem surprised to find out that I make movies and have a podcast. However, from what I know about filmmakers, many of them seem to be introverts.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: If they are reading this is because they are also Stephen King fans. It isn’t easy to find someone out there who is not a Stephen King fan, but if there, we probably need to find them and give them a Stephen King book.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Rodolfo Carlos Rivas: I want to thank Stephen King for continuing to write. He keeps tackling new ideas and inspiring others. He probably doesn’t need to do things like the Dollar Babies, but allowing others to play in his sandbox shows how he values his fans.