There have been — no joke — around six dozen feature length movies made of Stephen King works, and that’s not including short films, sections of anthology movies like Creepshow, and endless TV movies. Nor does it count the long list of King adaptations in the works, like another Pet Sematary. It also does not include all the short films made by students who bought the rights from the author personally for all of one dollar. As it happens, according to Mashable, the horror master recently did just that for two young students in Wales.
Since the 1970s, King has offered what he calls “Dollar Babies” — short stories he will sell to certain film students for a buck. One such budding cineaste was Frank Darabont, who in 1983 tackled King’s The Woman in the Room, and later, as an adult professional, tackled a little King novella called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
Nowadays the “Dollar Babies” can be found on King’s personal site. He currently lists 30 short stories that he will sell to certain students. (It notes that no stories that aren’t listed are available in this deal.) All prospective collegiate adapters must do is fill out a very simple form, including a message convincing him to bequeath his content for a beyond bargain price.
In this case, King will give the rights to The Stationary Bike to a pair of 16- and 14-year-old pair at the Blaenau Gwent Film Academy. The story, originally published in 2003 and packaged in the 2008 collection Just After Sunset, tells of a widower whose attempt to get back in shape goes horrifically awry. But it doesn’t go so awry that cash-strapped students couldn’t turn it into a student film that can then tour festivals.
When these students are done, they’ll join a long tradition — if one that’s not always been of consistent quality, to put it generously. We may be living in a Stephen King movie renaissance, thanks to the ongoing multipart adaptations of It, but remember that the singularly misbegotten film of The Dark Tower, the rare movie where Matthew McConaughey looks like he doesn’t give a sh*t, hit theaters just over a year ago. But ignore that: Any up-and-coming filmmakers looking for a strong foundation with which to cut their teeth should visit King’s site and see what happens.