GREENFIELD – As an avid Stephen King fan, aspiring filmmaker Cameron Grimm sat up straight when he heard the prolific horror writer was looking for students to make films of his short stories.
A quick visit to King’s website and Grimm confirmed the rumor. King was indeed offering film rights to “Dollar Babies” — a term coined by King to describe the film students and amateur cinematographers he’d allow to buy the rights to more than 30 of his short stories for just a dollar.
Grimm combed through list, narrowed it down and then decided on “The Man Who Loved Flowers,” a short story that had been part of King’s 1978 “Night Shift” anthology.
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And now — with the blessing of the master of horror himself — he’s putting the story to film, with his hometown of Greenfield as the backdrop.
Grimm turned the four-page narrative into a seven-page screenplay and mailed it off to King for approval — along with his plans for the film and a description of his newly created company, 5 After 5 Productions.
And suddenly, Grimm found himself one of King’s Dollar Baby filmmakers.
“I must have said the right things,” Grimm said. “The next thing I knew, I was green-lit to go ahead and produce and film the movie.”
King’s Dollar Baby program, now featured on his website stephenking.com, has been in existence since 1983, when Frank Darabont, then a film student, bought the rights to “The Woman in the Room” for a dollar. King liked it so much he offered Darabont the rights to “The Shawshank Redemption” and later “The Green Mile,” both films adapted from Stephen King novels.
Of course, there were stipulations. Everyone who worked on the movie had to volunteer their time; the film couldn’t be longer than 45 minutes; and King wanted a copy of it when it was finished.
With a goal to begin work on his first film the weekend of Sept. 8, Grimm had no problems assembling a production team.
“I have not gone after anybody for this movie,” he admitted. “Everybody came after me when then found out it was a Stephen King project.”
The story, “The Man Who Loved Flowers” takes place in New York, but Grimm, a Greenfield native, loved the look of his quaint hometown and decided to use the streets of downtown Greenfield as the backdrop for his film.
“The Man Who Loved Flowers” appealed to the aspiring filmmaker because of the complexity of the main character — a young man who stops to buy a bouquet of flowers for his sweetheart. He sees a woman ahead of him on the sidewalk and believes it to be the object of his affection, but as approaches her, he realizes that it isn’t her, it will never be her and it hasn’t been her for 10 years — and that’s when the story takes a scary turn.
The cast list features 15 actors including Shauna Keith, an instructional assistant at Greenfield Central Junior High.
Keith spotted the audition notice on Facebook. She has theater experience with local theater troupes Footlite Musicals, Theatre on the Square and the Spotlight Players, but doing a movie was mostly uncharted territory for her. It’s a feeling shared by the man behind the camera — “The Man Who Loved Flowers” is Grimm’s first movie.
The audition process for film took Keith by surprise.
Not many of the characters speak, Keith observed, so most of her audition was just reaction – and it was a lot more difficult than she’d expected, she admitted.
“You’re just right there in that hot moment, and you have to just pull that particular emotion out very quickly, whether it’s anger or fear or you’re distraught,” Keith said.
Keith looks forward to seeing how the director manages some of the effects needed for the film.
“He has some great make-up artists on hand,” Keith said. “I trust his vision.”
Filming on location in front of Griggbsy’s Station, the production crew recently drew curious onlookers and people peering out the window of the restaurant.
The completed film is projected to be 30 minutes long, and once it’s “in the can” — movie speak for ready to be viewed, Grimm plans to take it around to the film festival circuit.
And he’s not afraid to dream big.
“Maybe Hoosier Heartland or the ones that get you in front of the Academy Awards committee for nomination,” he said.
Grimm, his cast and crew understand they’re working on a volunteer project and have been raising funds through T-shirt sales on the 5 and 5 Productions Facebook page and an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.
They payoff might not be immediate, but Grimm knows the story of Darabont and other young filmmakers who have pinned their hopes on the works of Stephen King and found success.
“Many of them are looking at the same dream,” Grimm said. “They do what they’re doing now, but they hope that this gets them somewhere bigger.”
Though “The Man Who Loved Flowers” is a nonprofit project, there are expenses associated with movie-making.
To help support the project, visit indiegogo.com/projects/help-us-make-movie-get-name-in-credits-film.