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Video: Oklahoma filmmaker Shawn Lealos launches Kickstarter for documentary "Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers"

by Brandy McDonnell Published: September 23, 2013
Oklahoma writer/filmmaker Shawn Lealos and his son Ash
Oklahoma writer/filmmaker Shawn Lealos and his son Ash

Norman writer/filmmaker Shawn Lealos has launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a documentary called “Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers.”

It’s a fascinating and inspirational story about the best-selling author’s extraordinary efforts to mentor fledgling filmmakers.

Around 1976, King began a program designed to help young filmmakers get their start in the film industry. King offered student filmmakers limited rights to make a short film based on any of his short stories that had not already been optioned. While the first few remain unknown, in 1979 King granted the rights to two filmmakers who helped spread the word through their success stories.

Those men were Jeff Schiro and Frank Darabont.

To this day, they are the only filmmakers who saw their work released on home video, although another was allowed to show his on the Internet for a short period of time more than 20 years later. Since then, Schiro has become a successful Hollywood editor, Frank Darabont went on to enjoy a successful film career, adapting feature-length films based on King’s “The Shawshawnk Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Mist.”

However, the stories of their Dollar Baby films, “The Boogeyman” and “The Woman in the Room,” remain a mystery to many people. Since that time, there have been more than 75 Dollar Baby filmmakers. Due to the contracts, and to protect King’s rights to these properties, these Dollar Baby films can only be screened at film festivals, so the majority of fans will never see any of them.

Lealos, a local film critic who is writing a book called “Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers,” got my start with the Stephen King Dollar Baby deal. In 2000, he received his contracts from King to make a Dollar Baby based on the “Night Shift” story “I Know What You Need.” Soon, he began to meet other Dollar Baby filmmakers from across the world and started to hear about their success stories.

In “Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers,” Lealos plans to tell these filmmakers’ stories, showing how they used this special opportunity to start their careers in the entertainment industry. Many of these filmmakers have gone on to have successful careers in Hollywood and on television.

Although Lealos has already interviewed several Dollar Baby filmmakers for his book, due out later this year, he has launched his Kickstarter campaign to help pay for travel expenses for more interviews as well as for equipment rentals, post-production work, and crew members’ salaries.

He has set a $50,000 goal and a deadline of Oct. 11. If he doesn’t reach the goal, the project will receive no funding.

For more information or to donate to Shawn’s Kickstarter, click here. And check out this video:


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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