I released my book, Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers (BUY IT HERE) back in 2015. Since then, I have hosted a pair of Dollar Baby Film Festivals (one in Houston and one in Seattle).
I have lived in the world of the dollar babies since 1999. In that time, I realized a lot of people may not know what it is. So, what are Stephen King Dollar Baby films?
Here is a breakdown of the Stephen King dollar babies.
When did Stephen King start allowing Dollar Baby Films?
I originally believed Frank Darabont was the first dollar baby filmmaker. However, I quickly learned that the first “known” dollar baby film was actually Jeff Schiro’s The Boogeyman in 1982. Schiro spoke to stephenkingshortmovies.com about his Dollar Baby.
“I believe The Boogeyman was one of the first short films made from his stories. When I decided I wanted to try and make it into a film, I wrote Doubleday Books who owned the rights and eventually heard back. For years, I thought I was the only one who had this dollar deal!”
However, he wasn’t the only one. Just one year later, a young filmmaker named Frank Darabont created The Woman in the Room. Darabont became the most famous dollar baby filmmaker of all time.
Surprise, surprise: Our pre-show of #TheShawshankRedemption features a rare screening of Frank Darabont’s The Woman in the Room. So, definitely plan on arriving at the @musicboxtheatre early! #StephenKing #GreetingsfromCastleRock pic.twitter.com/8JqcUYRnyp
— The Losers' Club (@LosersClubPod) July 28, 2018
Darabont is the first famous filmmaker to receive permission to make a dollar baby, but Schiro finished his movie first.
King loved Darabont’s movie so much that he gave the director a $1 option to make Shawshank Redemption. That film stands the test of time as one of the greatest movies ever made.
What are Stephen King Dollar Baby Films?
The dollar baby films are what the title proclaims. Stephen King offers student filmmakers the chance to make a short film based on one of his short stories. He only charges the aspiring filmmakers $1.
Stories already made into feature-length films are not eligible. Children of the Corn is a good example. None of his novels are eligible. The filmmakers then have the right to make the movie to show at film festivals and on their product reels.
When I made my Stephen King Dollar Baby film I Know What You Need, it took some research. Now, King has a list of films he is currently offering in the deal available on his website.
Where can Stephen King’s Dollar Baby Films be seen?
This is the tough part, but it is fair when you think about it. For $1, filmmakers can make a movie based on a Stephen King story and use it to further their career. They do this by screening it at festivals or adding it to their product reel for future jobs.
However, that is it. You can’t put it on the Internet. If you see one, it breaks the filmmaker’s contract with Stephen King.
A filmmaker cannot screen his Stephen King Dollar Baby film for the public. The exceptions are film festivals or conventions.
You also can’t put it on DVD and send it to people except for festival consideration.
This makes the Stephen King dollar babies almost mythic. Many people have heard about them but few have actually seen them.
That is what makes the screening at the Comicpalooza Film Festival I held such a big deal. There have been only a small handful of times multiple dollar babies have screened together in the United States.
Are the Dollar Baby Films any good?
Don’t let the term “student filmmakers” fool you. These are some really good movies out there under the Stephen King dollar babies deal.
James Cole’s Last Rung on the Ladder, Jay Holben’s Paranoid and Rodney Altman’s Umney’s Last Case are perfect examples. Altman spent $60,000 to make his dollar baby, so don’t think all these are low budget affairs either.
My book, Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers (BUY IT HERE) tells the stories of a large number of these filmmakers and what they went through to make these amazing short films. It also shows how they used the generosity of Stephen King to move into careers in the entertainment industry.
Click on this link to learn more about each of the individual Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers.