For anyone hoping to make their mark in the world of horror movies, you’d think a Stephen King adaption would pretty much be the holy grail.
For some students at Blaenau Gwent Film Academy in Wales, UK, though, it’s a reality.
The Academy recently signed a contract to adapt “Stationary Bike”, a short story featured in King’s collection Just After Sunset. And they only had to pay $1 to do it.
“We knew already that Stephen King was excellent at supporting education establishments,” tutor Kevin Phillips explained to Mashable. “[And] we came across this website where, actually, he releases many of his short stories for adaption, you know non-profit of course.”
Phillips is referring to the “Dollar Babies” section of Stephen King’s official site, which allows film students to request the rights for a selection of his short stories which currently aren’t under contract.
“We pretty much emailed his secretary, Margaret, and she came back to us in 24 hours, and we told her what we wanted to do, that it’s not for profit, that our students would be making it, and she sent us a contract through which was signed by Stephen King himself,” said Phillips.
After filling in some forms and posting back a dollar, the Academy had official confirmation a few days later.
The students of Blaenau Gwent Film Academy are in good company. King’s been granting students Dollar Baby rights since the 1970s, and some previous adaptations — notably The Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont’s 1983 version of “The Woman in the Room” — have marked the start of some pretty big film careers.
Two students — 16-year-old Alfie Evans and 14-year-old Cerys Cliff — are now working on adapting “Stationary Bike” into a script. Once it’s ready Phillips thinks around 30 students will likely work on turning it into a film. A large chunk of the story takes place in a single room, so the plan is to film most of it in the backstage area of a local theatre. By next March or April, Phillips hopes, the finished film should be ready.
So will Stephen King be watching it?
“They insist that we send him a copy,” Phillips said. “That was part of the contract — Stephen always loves to see the work and please send him a DVD when it’s all complete.”
After that it’ll be a case of submitting the finished short to film festivals.
“The main thing is that it’ll be used to boost the confidence of our young, up-and-coming film-makers to actually say that they’ve worked on a Stephen King film,” Phillips said.
“It won’t only boost their confidence, but it’ll also enhance their CVs and hopefully stand as a stepping stone to further their careers.”
Who knows — in 10 years’ time, one of them could even end up making the next Shawshank Redemption.