Stephen King is charging students $1 to make a film adaptation of his short story Stationary Bike. In addition to paying the $1 for the non-exclusive rights to the story, students at the Blaenau Gwent Film Academy in Wales, U.K. have to send King a copy of their movie on DVD so that he can watch it. While many film students looking to get into the world of horror think that getting the rights to a Stephen King story would be a lot more expensive, the author has been helping film students for decades with his own program.
There’s a portion of Stephen King’s website that is devoted to what he calls “Dollar Babies.” The 30 stories are not under contract to any film studios, and the author lets students have a crack at adapting them into films. King has been doing this since the late 1970s in order to help out students and schools. King still has the rights, but allows upcoming directors to make a non-commercial adaptation.
The Blaenau Gwent Film Academy was aware of Stephen King’s Dollar Babies program and sent an email to his secretary about obtaining Stationary Bike, which is from the author’s Just After Sunset collection. Tutor Kevin Phillips says that they heard back from King’s secretary within 24 hours and were soon filling out the paperwork and sending off $1 to make the short film. The contract that they had to sign was also signed by King, who authorized the school to make the project. 16-year old Alfie Evans and 14-year old Cerys Cliff are currently hard at work on their adaptation.
Stephen King’s Dollar Babies was pretty much a secret to most fans, even though the author set up the deal in 1977. It wasn’t until 1986 that fans started to learn that there were a bunch of King’s stories that had been adapted by film students over the years, ranging in quality. In 1986, then 20-year film student Frank Darabont’s Dollar Babies adaptation of The Woman in the Room was released on VHS by Granite Entertainment Group Interglobal Home Video as part of the Stephen King’s Night Shift Collection. Darabont later went on to direct Stephen King’s The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile, which are some of King’s best-known film adaptations.
The Dollar Babies program has definitely helped film students achieve their goals, while boosting confidence over the years, and even gone on to help the author in the process. After Alfie Evans and Cerys Cliff finish their film, they will send it to Stephen King and then it will be submitted to film festivals. The fact that King has been doing the Dollar Babies program for over 40 years now is pretty amazing in itself, never mind that it spawned an Academy Award winning director in the process. This story was first reported by Mashable and film students looking for the Dollar Babies can head over to Stephen King’s official site.