Independent Film: Midcoast Filmmakers Adapt Stephen King’s “One for the Road”

“Stephen King is as much Maine as blueberries and lobsters,” says Topsham-based film producer Leigh Doran, who, alongside writer-director and Brunswick resident David Jester, prepares to film an adaptation of the short story. King’s terrifying “One for the Route.”

The director duo, who team up to run the Maine-based company Whiskey Wolf Media, benefited from one of the Maine horror writer and philanthropist’s most eccentric charitable efforts. The king’s crush, called The Dollar Baby program, sees the literary lion of Bangor offer a selection from its voluminous catalog of short stories that filmmakers can adapt. The cost to the filmmakers – a crisp dollar bill.

Of course, movies cost more than a dollar, and Doran and Jester have moved on to crowdfunding route to increase the admirably accurate $ 37,081 budget they calculated for their movie, which is slated to be shot in Maine after the New Years.

Leigh Doran, Topsham-based producer of an adaptation of Stephen King’s “One for the Road”.

But, for seasoned filmmakers Doran and Jester, the chance to adapt “One for the Road” (from the 1978 King’s short story anthology “Night Shift”) is a unique opportunity to pay homage to an author they admire. since a long time. .

“We both had an obsession and a love for King’s work,” Jester said. “It’s exciting to be able to put your own creative perspective on a story that means so much to you. Doran added, “He’s one of the greatest storytellers of our generation, and it’s exciting to put your own work there, to reimagine them with your own spin.”

For the uninitiated, “One for the Road” depicts a father “from afar” who, after his car broke down in a snowstorm outside the town of Salem’s Lot, Maine , leaves his wife and child in the declining heat of the car and asks for help. of two crisp old men drinking the storm in a remote local waterhole. Not to spoil a 40-year-old story, but the name of the town should tell you why the poor guy’s quest runs into some truly terrifying problems.

A photo from the promo video for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “One for the Road”.

“I’ve always liked the idea,” said Jester, perhaps a little macabre. “Being a stranger in a place and trying to get help when these two locals know something he doesn’t know. The story is about how the men try to convince this stranger of something they know to be real and to convince him not to go back to his family.

Comparing the snowy setting of the story to horror classics such as John Carpenter’s film “The Thing,” Jester touts the power of lonely pressure in creating intense cinematic magic. “I like when time is an element,” Jester said. “There is a force working against them that they cannot control.”

Unfortunately, for independent filmmakers on a budget, throwing a screaming blizzard in Maine on order is a bit out of their price bracket.

“Of course, we can’t control the weather either,” Jester said with a laugh, Doran noting that the proposed budget for the film won’t go for an expensive snow machine, but will go to feed the cast and crew. team, taking care of the essentials and, ideally, building the movie bar located inside a Maine barn room with a particularly evocative wall mural already in place. “We spotted the Mariaville Grange, which has this amazing WPA mural of a traveling artist on the back wall. We keep our fingers crossed because that would just be a perfect item. “

Such thinking on your feet is an independent filmmaker‘s greatest asset, with Jester claiming that – with blizzards being so unreliable even in Maine – he altered the misfortune of his hapless traveler (who will be played by the actor of Maine Cody Alexander Curtis). “He had a blast on Christmas Eve which had him walk to this bar in the dark,” Jester said of his script fit. “If I were rich I would create a blizzard.” (And, hey, maybe Jester, Doran, and his team will get lucky.)

For Doran and Jester, themselves transplanted from Maine (Vermont and Long Island respectively), King’s work has long called them here. (Which is a little scary, if you think about it.) Explaining his attraction to the Maine icon’s inimitable style, Doran said, “King’s stories begin in such believable, compelling, normal lives and towns. . We live in Stephen King’s world everyday. And then all of a sudden the normal world changes, and the paranoia that you usually keep at bay arises. “

David Jester from Brunswick, the director of the film.

Jester added, “King pulls the curtain and shows it – he’s not leaving any characters out of town. You can still recognize these characters, this panoply of them. We have all seen them, all encountered them. Noting King’s willingness to embrace the often overlooked dark side of Maine, Jester, bringing up the fact that Maine’s history with the KKK (as referenced in his novel “IT”), said, “King incorporates elements of Maine that are dirty, dark – but all of which are part of the fabric of where we are.”

To that end, Jester and Doran (and your humble author) urge potential viewers to “One for the Road’s” fundraising page on the IndieGoGo website. On the one hand, the donations there will help ensure that we get the filmmakers’ unique take on one of Stephen King’s most legendary tales. On the other hand, Dollar Baby’s rules state that in exchange for cheap film rights, “One for the Road” can never be uploaded to YouTube and cannot be shown publicly for profit. They can submit it to film festivals, but to make sure you can actually see the film, Doran notes that donors all receive a private link to watch it when it releases.

Outside of those lucky few, however, the only person who is sure to see this independent adaptation made in Maine will be King himself, since Dollar Baby’s rules also require the author to receive a DVD copy of the finished film ( as well as with his dollar). Says Doran of the decades-long program, “It’s a real two-way street. Filmmakers might have respect for King’s stories, but King also has a respect for film and loves his work adapted for the screen.

As Doran further notes, since Dollar Babies have been in production since the late 1970s (with “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile” director Frank Darabont being the most famous participant), “Only King knows how many there really is. “It really feels like setting up a particularly scary Stephen King story.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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