My latest Dollar Baby interview is with a talented director from the UK, Hendrik Harms. Hendrik studied at Keele University and graduated in 2o11. With various jobs and experience under his belt, Hendrik eventually started his own production company ‘Harms Way Studios’ in 2018, in Worcester, Worcestershire. He is a writer, producer, director, and he is now a part of the Stephen King Universe with his Stephen King Dollar Baby film, ALL THAT YOU LOVE WILL BE CARRIED AWAY.
ALL THAT YOU LOVE WILL BE CARRIED AWAY was first published in the January 29th, 2001 issue of the New Yorker Magazine. In 2002, it was published in the short story collection, EVERYTHING’S EVENTUAL. The story is about a traveling frozen foods salesman. While staying at a hotel, the salesman is debating with himself whether or not to take his own life.
During the course of his travels he keeps a journal filled with different sayings and graffiti he has seen in bathrooms. He feels these sayings have meaning, and speak to him in a way no one else can. As he waits outside the hotel, he lets fate decide if he should kill himself, or not.
Hendrik Harms version of this Dollar Baby has an amazing cast of actors that prove their talents are above and beyond. The film has a different take on the Stephen King short story, however, it keeps you intrigued, entertained, and amazed all at once. I enjoyed this version of Stephen King’s short story, and it showcases Hendrik’s amazing talent and vision, which definitely does King’s story justice.
Here is my exclusive interview with Dollar Baby director, Hendrik Harms…
Tony Northrup – What was it like growing up in Worcestershire? What were some of your early influences, and what was your first Stephen King book and film?
Hendrik Harms – Worcestershire is a gorgeous city in the center of England. It’s rich with history and culture and has excellent transport links, so travelling to wherever you need to go is a breeze. This has given me a real love for my hometown, especially trying to build a creative career as I’ve never had a problem reaching sets or locations. My early influences are probably whodunnit dramas. I love a good mystery series especially with a twist. I always remember the first time I watched Se7en and was amazed at the twists in that. My first King film was The Shining when I was very young (probably younger than I should have been!). My first book, I’m embarrassed to say was actually the All That You Love Will Be Carried Away. I’ve been more of a casual King lover, which was part of the reason I wanted to make a film of one of his stories, as I had an almost outside objectiveness rather that trying to live up to a favorite author.
TN – How is it that you went from Criminology to filmmaking? Looking back, do you think you would’ve done well in that field?
HH – I went back and forth really because I couldn’t decide. Like I said before, I’d grown up on whodunnit and mysteries, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write them or live them! I think I would have loved a job in it, but I’d have missed the freedom that a creative jobs gives me.
TN – You wear many hats: Writer, Producer, Editor, Actor, Marketer, and Director – what is the most challenging for you out of all of these?
HH – That’s a hard one to answer because they each carry different challenges. I wouldn’t say I find any challenging in the sense I struggle, but I definitely prefer writing and directing if I’m given a choice!
TN – You said you began making films for fun at the age of 16 when you got your first camera. What type of films did you want to make back then?
HH – When I was very young it was doing adaptations/reboots of tv shows I’d loved. There was one in particular that I loved around that time which was Due South. I was gutted when it was cancelled, and started writing how it could be remade. As I got older I honed these ideas and skills into more original stories and characters. I started writing prose, as that’s a lot easier (as it’s a solo task), but I’ve always preferred the format of screenplays, so when I started making films I was glad to be able to move back into this medium.
TN – How did you first hear about the Stephen King Dollar Baby film program?
HH – I heard about it on a news program and researched it. I almost made one a number of years ago based on the Doctor’s Case story. I briefly considered that again when I took on this new project, but ultimately I felt that the Sherlock Holmes market was over-saturated and wanted to try a more original, lesser known story.
TN – Out of all of the Stephen King short stories, what attracted you most to ALL THAT YOU LOVE WILL BE CARRIED AWAY?
HH – Stephen King has a lot of identifiable stories and characters, carrying through a very distinctive style. However, when I read All That You Love, I was surprised as it was strangely very grounded and real, and dealt with some truly prevalent issues in a heartbreaking way. That, coupled with the graffiti, made me feel there was a great template to build my story on top of.
TN – What changes did you make, to make this your own version as opposed to King’s original text?
HH – The original followed just a single character, and I’d researched other versions of the adaptation online and saw that they were very faithful. My first film had actually been about a solo character, so I didn’t really want to do that again, I wanted to try something new. Also, due to the nature of the story, most adaptations tell it through narration and voice overs. Although these were fantastic, I wanted to make my version a bit more dynamic, so I decided that I’d bring the graffiti to life as almost fractured personalities of Alfie who’s “lives/stories” are moved forward by the different graffiti’s he find and attributes to them.
TN – So many Stephen King fans want adaptations to be as close to the book as possible. How do you handle the pressure to keep the fans happy?
HH – I didn’t really feel the pressure to be honest. The dollar baby scheme has been running for like 40 years and there’s been so many faithful adaptations of the stories, I thought I’d try something new, where fans of the story could find something unique to take away, and newcomers could also enjoy the narrative. I also felt that it was a lesser known story to the more casual of King fans, as people who watch it don’t realize that I’ve changed anything, and think it has the King feel to it. That’s a massive compliment in a way because it meant I was able to capture his signature style of storytelling.
TN – What was the main goal you wanted to achieve with this film?
HH – I wanted to do something fresh. Really amply Alfie’s spiraling mental health and give it a distinct style and feel. When we had our premiere of the film we raised money for Mind (a mental health charity), so I think we not only achieved our main goal, but went above and beyond!
TN – Where was the movie filmed specifically, and were there any obstacles you had to overcome while filming there?
HH – We tried to keep filming local as much as possible, so it was mainly filmed in Worcestershire. I am trying very hard to grow this area for creativity and filmmaking, so it’s important to me that people who attend university here see that they don’t need to move away to have jobs in this field. Some obstacles however, well, where to start!? We filmed in a hotel who were absolutely wonderful people but it was the height of summer in a hotel room with 8 cast members, the crew and bright neon lights… It was HOT! One actress almost fainted in one take. We also had neighbors in the hotel rooms so there would be tv’s and showers going especially in the morning. Luckily they were very accommodating for us. Then we had to film in a working lobby, which means we kept having to pause to allow people to check in. The best memory of that was our Clerk actor stood behind the desk with a real customer in front of him, and him looking around for help.
TN – How long was the film shoot and process from start to finish?
HH – We shot for 5 days but pre and post production took a little longer. The whole thing was probably a year of work, which is crazy to think that it culminated in just 5 days of filming with a 45 minute film.
TN – You have an amazing cast ensemble, share with us your casting choices and the auditions for the film?
HH – We wanted to try an interesting approach for this film. We had over 100 applications and I didn’t want to give away the twist that theses characters were fictitious, as I thought it might affect the way they auditioned them. So, instead of giving them script pages, I gave those who auditioned just 3 words that summed up the character, and sent them off to either find a monologue, or write a monologue that they thought fit those traits. It was such a successful exercise because you could immediately see these characters coming to life. We had an absolutely stellar cast, what a line up. I do have to make special mention to the ones who were unsuccessful though, as it was so hard to choose and we were dumbfounded at how lucky we were to have such exceptional talent apply.
TN – What is your greatest achievement so far with the success of ALL THAT YOU LOVE WILL BE CARRIED AWAY?
HH – Aside from winning awards, I’d say the relationships. I really wanted the actors to get to know each other, so we had a day of beer and pizza, and a WhatsApp group on the go. Since they were all playing, effectively, the same person, they needed to be totally comfortable with one another. Their chemistry was electric, and then after being in a hotel room like sardines, I think the crew came together in the same way. It’s kind of a little family, and we’re all still in touch. I’d say those friendships were worth more than the awards.
TN – What Stephen King story would you like to adapt on a larger scale?
HH – I would have said 11/22/63 , but James Franco beat me to it! I’m a sucker for time travel and alternate realities.
TN – Where and When can fans see this film? Will it be playing at film fests around the world?
HH – It will be in film festivals all over the world, if you follow Harms Way Studios on our social media, we’ll be doing announcement of when showings will be on. Hell, if you want one, get in touch and we can see if we can arrange something!
TN – Lastly, what’s next for Hendrik Harms?
HH – On the film front, I am gearing up for my first feature. I have a solid story that I think will translate very well to screen. Aside from that, I have just opened up a film studio in Worcester and am working with local businesses, the university, the council to bring a city wide international film festival to my city next year. Like I said before, I am very determined to bring filmmaking to this area, for all the fantastic talent we have in this area. So, watch this space there is lots more to come!
TN -…and watch we certainly will!