As Mendocino Ono, Associate Producer IN THE DEATHROOM, am thrilled to share a blog at MendocinoOno.com, a detailed account of how Filmmaker Nicole Jones-Dion shone in the scriptwriting community on the TWITTER #scriptchat forum Sunday July 21, 2019. She chatted about current project IN THE DEATHROOM, a Stephen King adaptation “just locked” in final stages of production.
IN THE DEATHROOM is produced under a “Dollar Babie” non-exclusive option from Stephen King with “tons of restrictions” such as: it cannot be monetized on YouTube, Amazon or other channels employed for monetization. What it is for is the demo reel where Director Nicole Jones-Dion and her talented crew can showcase their A-list bonafides. “Part of the contract with King is that we have to send him a copy of the film when it’s finished. If he likes it, he will let us use his name in the marketing. Until then, we can only say ‘Based on a short story by Stephen King’ …Fun but also a little intimidating! Since you know he will watch it, you want to do his story justice… I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”
Jones-Dion praised her crew. “Everyone knew we were sending King the film so they all brought their A-list game. Art, camera, actors, everyone is a fan.” The short film adaptation of his short story IN THE DEATHROOM is slated for film festivals, so watch for upcoming announcements on the festival circuit. For a taste of how scary Jones-Dion can thrill, see her trailer for SCARS at praxiscope.com
About the story itself Dion-Jones shared “I was drawn to the DEATHROOM story because it was fairly contained and it was a character piece. DEATHROOM has lots of good meaty roles for actors. We got some amazing performances.”
Jones-Dion enjoys working with people who are passionate about films. Her DEATHROOM crew has worked with her on previous projects. “Short films are a good testing ground to see how well you work with folks… So when you watch DEATHROOM, you’ll notice that one of the villains was also a bad guy in STASIS. A lot of STASIS peeps on this one.”
For those interested in reading the original short story, IN THE DEATHROOM is featured in the Stephen King short story collection titled “Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales”. The mental musings that later become flashbacks are themselves a literary device that King devises with signature expertise.
Planning for Production
Scriptwriters asked Jones-Dion about her process, her thoughts behind planning for the adaptation production. They asked about the things she kept in mind as a director and producer when she was writing the script. “With any adaptation,” Jones-Dion said “I try to get to the heart of the story. What’s it about? Then… what can I show visually? This one was tricky because the story is literally all in one room and told through flashbacks. I didn’t want to rely on voiceover.”
Scouting and securing the right film locations is never easy. Jones-Dion “never thought we’d be able to replicate a ‘Central American Jungle’ in SoCal” but she did and last month she and her crew headed out for a fresh air “day in the woods in Santa Clarita…And the mosquitoes were HUGE. Santa Clarita had the biggest mosquitoes I’d ever seen. And I’m from the south, LOL! Oh! And the woods were haunted, too! Day 3 in the woods we had zero GPS and no cell signal… Perfect for a Stephen King story!!! Yes!”
Interior DEATHROOM scenes were shot in an old WW2-era quonset hut. “I was looking for a film-friendly warehouse space to shoot and found this place called MoonHuts online. Actually it used to be a crime scene cleanup lab! And a pot growing facility… near DTLA.”
“We’re still deep in post… For editing we did two rounds of focus group screenings.” When asked how much of the focus group feedback she used, Dion-Jones replied “I write down all the suggestions.” She uses the ones that fit budget and can elevate the story. “Focus groups are similar to doing script rewrites.” But with a budget of $30,000 (raised on Indiegogo) the filmmaker is careful about spending on reshoots, making the most of the footage and enhancing the effects in post production with editing techniques, sound, video effects and music.
The music and sound effects promise to be scary. “Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th) is our composer and he’s great to work with. He’s scored most of my short films.”
No scares lurk unturned under this woman’s feet. Jones-Dion is already kicking around the grave sites for her next project, a true-life poltergeist story that is “batshit crazy. It’s out to producers now so I can’t say much… but it’s crazy… I can plug the book. The pilot is adapted from ‘The Bothell Hell House’ a true story of the Demon of Seattle. There is a ‘Bothell Hell House’ sequel coming out in August… It’s on my desk for this week!” To learn more about “The Bothell Hell House” read the Kindle version, free for download at amazon.com/Bothel-Hell-House.
To follow Jones-Dion check out her fright site at praxiscope.com, facebook.com/nikijones, Instagram @praxiscope or @inthedeathroomfilm