Interview: Frank Darabont on Hope and Miracles, Redemption, and Walking the Mile

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frank darabont
Frank Darabont

From the Academy Award-nominated short film The Woman in the Room, Frank Darabont’s first writer/director effort, to The Blob, The Fly II, The Mist, the first season of The Walking Dead and, of course, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile and several more in between, Darabont has spent over thirty years creating films to capture, scare, and otherwise stir the hearts and minds across multiple generations of film fans across the globe. I got to corner the man himself by way of the phone to discuss Gauntlet Press’s upcoming publication of their newest specialty title: Hope And Miracles: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (Two Screenplays By Frank Darabont).

Join us we chat about Frank’s contributions to making this book the highly collectable time capsule it’s destined to become. Get comfortable as we delve into the undertaking of this massive project, reminisce about Darabont’s experience during the making of these two iconic films, and the legacy of what this book has to offer for established and budding filmmakers alike.

(Interview conducted by Rick Hipson)

CEMETERY DANCE: Regarding Hope And Miracles, how did your collaboration with Barry Hoffman and Gauntlet Press come about? 

cover of Hope and Miracles featuring images from The Shawshank Redemption and The Green MileFRANK DARABONT: Funny enough, I’ve been a Gauntlet customer for many years. They publish a lot of cool books and I’ve bought a lot of them. How this came about was actually pretty simple. Barry reached out to me and said, “Hey, what do you think of this idea? What do you think of publishing the book with two screenplays in it?” I said, I think that’s a fine idea, let’s do it. What I hadn’t anticipated was the effort that would go into it. I hadn’t anticipated how the project would grow from just publishing the two scripts. Many people showed up that contributed to the book out of the goodness of their hearts. I was really touched by that. 

Hard to fathom it’s been twenty-five years since you wrote and directed The Shawshank Redemption from Stephen King’s novella (“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”), and twenty years since The Green Mile

Tell me about it. Those years have zipped by so damn fast. It’s really shocking to look back on how long ago that was. It’s not an uncommon feeling as you enter your sixth decade of life, but man, it really does seem quite remarkable to think it was that long ago. There are adult people with children now who weren’t born yet when that first movie came out.

Absolutely. The crazy thing is, I’ve got Amazon Prime, and I watched The Shawshank Redemption maybe four weeks ago after I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it. I’m still surprised how well the film holds up to this day. Same is true for both films, really.

Thank you. 

Unlike us, they don’t seem to age all too much. 

(laughs) Honestly, that’s really credit to Steve King. He’s such a timeless, powerful storyteller. Such a talented, brilliant storyteller. Recently, I went back and re-read The Dead Zone. I’ll re-read The Stand or Salem’s Lot every few years and boy, it’s never not fresh. It never feels dated. There’s a reason he’s “Stephen King,” you know? He’s brilliant at what he does. He’s a storyteller for all time.

Other than putting words to a feeling I suppose, do you think there’s any particular aspects that make his stories work so well and be so timeless, not just on the page, but in some of his filmed adaptations such as the ones that you got to work on?

I think it really comes back to that word. I’ve used it and I don’t want to overuse it, but, timeless. He tells these timeless stories where certain fears and certain desires are as common to us as they were to our distant ancestors. Shakespeare was writing about these things hundreds of years ago. He was hoping for a better life, the struggle to survive, the struggle to get ahead. Loving people, hating people, I mean these are things that really don’t change no matter how technologically advanced we get. Those primal feelings are still very common and I think that’s the potency of his storytelling. That’s what makes it timeless.

I imagine it must have been a bit of a trip down memory lane to revisit these two projects after so many years since leaving the films behind for audiences to enjoy. What was this experience like for you? Any new surprises or feeling from revisiting your scripts?

You know, it was kind of a pleasant feeling to read these scripts and feel they still held up pretty well. I thought oh, the writing’s not bad here. I was reminded of a few scenes I never had time to shoot because of our schedule. I was reminded of those scenes and was just kind of sorry. Not that the audience has missed those scenes, because they were never even aware of those scenes. Would those scenes make for a better movie? Would the audience love the movie more or less now? Who’s to say? But, yeah it was a bittersweet thing to go oh, yeah, there’s that scene I never got to shoot. Mostly it was the technical effort and challenge of getting a really good looking copy of both scripts into Barry’s (publisher) and Tyson (Blue)’s (editor) and Dara (Hoffman-Fox)’s (layout design) hands. 

The drafts I had left over in my file bin from years and years ago were just copies of copies and not very good looking. If the reader was going to go through the trouble and expense of owning this book, I wanted the scripts to look good for them. Of course, the computer programs they were printed on were no longer even accessible because they were so obsolete, so we literally had to retype every page of both scripts and then hunt down every typo and get every bit of formatting the same. It wound up being just a tremendous bit of physical and mentally exhausting endeavor.

That sounds like a tedious journey.

It really was. I have to compliment Barry on his patience. I have a feeling he would have loved to have released this book a year ago, but when you have to retype from scratch and then make sure that it’s not riddled with typos and mistakes and all those problems, it just added a lot of time to the process. It’s almost like editing a movie the old-fashioned way. There’s a certain amount of physical drudgery involved.

When you were going through all those files, finding what you had, what you could resurrect after all those years, how did you determine what would be presented in the book and what, if anything, would be left in obscurity when it was all said and done?

I’d have to pass that question off to Barry, Tyson and Dara. Beyond the two screenplays which I obviously needed to provide and the new introduction that I was anxious to write for the book, the book is really their achievement. They’re the ones who made those decisions. It came as a surprise to me that people like RC Matheson — a wonderful guy — contributed to the book. Constantine Nasr, who’s a very dear friend of mine and has done all my behind the scenes stuff, I didn’t realize he was writing an essay for me. 

I handed my part off to them and let them take it from there. What they put together is really quite impressive. 

I also handed off a bunch of personal photographs from the production that I had come across, stuff that hadn’t been published before. Again, I’d let them make the decisions. I didn’t want to micromanage their book. I wanted them to run with it. 

theatrical poster for The Shawshank RedemptionAnd that they did. As a self-professed bonus feature nerd, one of the most unexpected pleasures I got from Hope and Miracles was reading through the many changes that were made to the working script of Shawshank during filming, some of which you confess to regretting not seeing through to the finished film. Is this standard operating procedure for most films, or was Shawshank just that organic?

Oh yeah, I think so. I had a conversation with Robert Benton once, a great screenwriter and filmmaker. I bumped into him at the Berlins Film Festival when Shawshank had just come out. Robert Benton said how do you like directing? I said, man, I found it really hard. (laughs) I’m not sure I want to do it again. And he said, I’ll tell you why. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every day you go to the set with a certain set of creative ambitions for your movie, and every day you have to let a certain part of that go because the clock is ticking, you’re on a schedule. You’ve just got to let go of a chunk of what you wanted to do and you have to think on your feet and you have to simplify. He said that’s difficult, it’s emotionally difficult and he was absolutely right. I think its standard procedure. There’s really a number of different phases. The screenplay is only one of them. As you’re shooting, so many other things come into play and if you’re smart you let those things not defeat you. You adapt as gracefully as you can under those circumstances. You realize oh gee, I don’t have half a day to shoot this, I have an hour to shoot this so how am I going to do that? How am I going to do it in two shots instead of twelve? That kind of thing. It’s literally the nature of it, I find, and I’m not alone in that. Everybody who’s ever directed I’m sure has had to face that. 

Then, of course, comes my favorite part: the editing room. Here you’re actually writing the last draft of the film. You’re actually making the movie. Everything prior to is just generating raw materials for what you do in the editing room. That’s when the movie really takes its shape. 

Where all the pieces are put together.

Yeah. It’ll tell you if you’ve made all the right decisions or it’ll point out your mistakes or all the stuff you got right and it becomes its own organic thing. You just have to listen to it, really.

When you’re in the hot seat and make major changes to an original story for the sake of cinematic reasoning, how much thought do you give to how fans — and the author — will react before said changes are a done deal?  

black and white photo of author Stephen King
Stephen King

Yes and no. It’s a really smart question. There is a part of your brain where you’re going gee, I hope the author, I hope Stephen King likes this. I hope he’s okay with what I’m doing. I hope it pleases him. Certainly, you’re always making a movie for an audience, for the fans as well, but given that I’m one of those fans I figure if the choices I’m making will please me it’ll probably please them as well, or at least it won’t piss them off too badly. And, of course, there is that point you reach where you get it in the can however you need to on that day so you don’t fall behind your schedule. You cross your fingers and hope you can make it work in the editing room. Again, it’s just part of the organic process of doing it. 

I’m always aware an audience is going to be watching. You don’t make a movie for yourself. Well, I suppose some people do. You’re always thinking, how is this going to work best for the viewers, for the emotional reaction I wanted to get or the laugh I wanted to get or their enjoyment? They’re trusting me with two or three hours of their life.  I want to try and reward them for that. Of course, starting off with a Stephen King story is a pretty good starting point. 

Not too bad. You’ve adapted, what, I think four Stephen King stories to date?

Hmm, let’s see. Yeah, four or five.

“The Woman in the Room,” The Mist, and these two?

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

I suppose the obvious question to ask then, and you kind of touched on it a little bit when talking about the timelessness of the storytelling, but is there anything you find in particular about Stephen King stories that resonate and translate into film so well for you? I’d love to know why you think Stephen King adaptations are so hit and miss as far as quality goes.

I think it’s really Steve’s great knack for tapping into the people that he’s writing, the understanding of humanity and people’s emotions, their hopes and their fears and desires and ambitions and their tragedies. He’s so damn good at making you feel those people. You’re feeling for them or you’re feeling against them. He’s just so good at it. He’s got such a great knack, and I think the movies that worked best focused on that. 

If you see a really excellent move like Stand By Me or Misery or Dolores Claiborne, they’re such good movies because they were very much focused on the humanity of Steve’s writing. I think the movies that worked less were more concerned with trying to do it with effects, with monsters, and let’s not worry too much about how people were feeling and try to throw a scare at the audience. Well, that kind of wears thin doesn’t it?

Absolutely. It really does.

I mean, you see a movie like The Dead Zone — I loved The Dead Zone — David Cronenberg is such a wonderful filmmaker. In fact, last night we watched The Fly. The very first time my wife had seen The Fly, and she can’t stop talking about it. I’m a huge Cronenberg fan and I just thought The Dead Zone was one of those early, really excellent movies. It’s so focused on the anguish of that man. It’s really wonderful, marvelous stuff. 

Yeah, it really knew what it needed to do and didn’t leave that path at all. 

Yeah, that’s right and I loved that Cronenberg, what he’s making, is really so straightforward, and simplicity is not an easy thing to achieve. There’s a lot of thought that goes into how he shoots his movies and I love it. I just think he’s a master. 

One hundred percent. And I think if you have a natural instinct for tapping into that particular voice with some of Stephen King’s books, it definitely goes a long way. A perfect example I can think of is I watched The Mist a couple of times when it came out and responded to its bleakness the way you probably intended me to. I mean that ending, which I know you changed quite a bit from what was originally in the book. I think now that I have a little boy of my own that film would likely crush me now like never before.

(laughs) That’s a compliment, thank you. 

Do you have a secret sauce for knowing when to make changes from the written story and really getting under the skin of people watching it on screen? 

Oh gosh. You know, the truth is, it’s just instinct. Whether that’s instinct you develop through years of experience or whether it was instinct that was there to begin with that you’ve honed a bit. I really can’t say, but it’s like any creative effort, really. I think there’s some instinct involved. I’m very grateful that my instincts as a storyteller happen to vibe with Stephen King’s instincts.  When he hits a home run… boy, I really feel it as a reader, as a guy who’s experienced the story he’s told me. I’m just so privileged that I’ve been able to steal some of his stories for myself, to co-op them as it were, and then having the privilege of translating them to the screen. I really can’t say enough about the man. Steve is truly one of the most remarkable humans. Not just gifted, but generous and kind to people. He really gives a lot back and I’m incredibly grateful to him. I always say I don’t think I’d have a directing career if it wasn’t for Stephen King.

And it all started with a dollar.

Yeah, exactly. That’s a great example, and there’s not much more than that you can say. The whole Dollar Baby thing, who else thinks of that? Steve King did. I have to say I’ve been privileged to work with some extraordinarily gifted and kind people. Not just Steve King, but Tom Hanks. I mean he’s a paragon of decency and kindness. So many of my colleagues in front of the camera and behind the camera, I just think back on those experiences. Those really are what made all the work worth it. The memories of working with some of those people, it’s been awesome. I’m sorry we’ve lost a few of them, like Michael Clarke Duncan. I just adored him. I had such a special experience. I don’t know if you read my introduction to the book.

I did.

His journey as an artist, to see his talent blossom on my watch. I can’t replace that experience. I can’t buy something you can treasure. I have such great love and affection for those books and movies. It’s those books that made it possible. Thank God for Rob Reiner and everybody at Castle Rock. I’m pretty serious when I say I don’t think I could get these movies made today. I’m a very grateful beneficiary of the fact they were there making those kinds of movies and backing filmmakers like me at that time. I just can’t be grateful enough, truly. 

It seemed they were true fans of films trying to see other great films getting made and had the resources to do it.

That’s right. Creative freedom and creative respect are two of the rarest coins in the realm of Hollywood. I mean, I’m shocked at how little else of it I found. I found it in other places for sure, and I could mention some other projects and other names where I had that really pleasant and nice experience, but never to the degree of Castle Rock when I made those movies. They were just the best. I’m sorry they’re not still around. I might still be making movies, who knows?

Here’s hoping for the future on that. 

Well, thank-you very kindly. I appreciate that.

theatrical poster for The Green Mile

I think you’ve already answered my next question to some degree, but when you were scouring through all your files for Hope And Miracles, did you find most of your cherished memories from making Shawshank and The Green Mile to stand the test of time, or were there any moments you maybe hadn’t realized were so memorable until coming across again after so long?

You know, I think you’re right that I did pretty much answer that question. At the risk of repeating the answer, there’s so much effort and so much exhaustion and so much pressure, so much stressing under the best of circumstances. You want to be making your days when you’re directing your movie even if the studio is Castle Rock and they’re the kindest, most understanding people in the world. You still want to make your days. They’re not beating you up, you’re beating yourself up trying to do right by the movie and trying to do right by the schedule and right by the budget. All that transitory pain, that dwindles in your memory and what you wind up with are the memories of the great moments on a set where an actor runs through his take. Like when Michael Clarke Duncan just suddenly appears in the movie.

Like that scene with the twins. Gets me every time.

photo from The Green Mile
Michael Clarke Duncan walks the mile.

One of my favorite memories from The Green Mile was, I guess you could call it the Oscar scene. It’s the one that I’m sure got Michael Clarke Duncan nominated in the supporting actor category. It’s where he sits in his cell and he talks to Paul (Tom Hanks) about the pain he feels in the world and says it feels like pieces of glass in his head. I remember when he did that take, I just about fell off my apple box with what was happening. I also very much cherished the memory of Tom’s generosity. He’s a big-ass movie star, but he’s not the kind of guy where you would ever know he’s a big-ass movie star. He never minded if I started shooting Michael’s side of the scene first because he knew Michael was less experienced. Maybe he’s going to be great in the first three takes and you don’t want to miss it if he is, right? Most movie stars, they want to be shot first and then everybody else gets to be shot after. But Tom, if I started on the other guy, if I started on Michael, he saw the wisdom in it because Tom’s a really smart and generous guy. He’s a really smart filmmaker himself by the way.

I remember seeing Tom acting his heart out off-camera for Michael in that scene to the point I was worried Tom was going to run out of gas. He’s delivering this astonishing performance off-camera to help Michael get there emotionally, to help Michael deliver that performance. When you see that kind of wisdom and generosity from somebody that I saw from Tom Hanks that day, that’s a memory that never goes away. That memory always makes me glow. And the people who were there that day that saw it, I promise you they haven’t forgotten it either. I promise David Morse has told that story countless times. I’m certain of it.

Those incredible moments, those are the moments you really hold on to. Those incredible moments with the actor connecting to the material or you connecting with the actor or when you see the movie unfolding during a take. It’s like oh, man, we’ve got the magic in the bottle now because of what that actor did or what his fellow actor did to help him get there. Those are the things you really think of. That’s what I think of. You remember the good stuff and not so much the bad. 

I think that’s a good thing.

Oh man, it sure is. You don’t dwell on the pressure or the clock or the budget and all that stuff. You don’t dwell on problems. You dwell on those brilliant moments of human generosity and creative flow. That’s what makes it so exciting. I always said I hate the movie business, but I love the art of making movies. I feel really privileged to be able to have dipped my toe in the water a few times, so I’m good. I’m happy with those, you know?   

Regarding the legacy of those two great films, what do you think the Hope and Miracles book adds to the legacy that is The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile?

Well, certainly both films have generated a tremendous fan base through the years. Shawshank especially seems to be one of those movies that people hand off to the next generation. People are showing it to their kids and then it becomes like a family event. I’ve heard from so many people who sit at a certain time of the year and watch The Shawshank Redemption. Just like when I was a kid, we’d sit at a certain time of year and watch The Wizard of Oz. I’m like, wow! That’s an amazing result, isn’t it? So, if nothing else, with thanks to Barry and his colleagues at Gauntlet, I love how there’s this book that’s going to commemorate that for the people who love those movies and love Stephen King stories. I’m honored and flattered there’s a nice hardbound permanent heirloom publication. I’m really honored and pleased by that. 

On a really practical level, I love getting my screenplays out there so people who want to become screenwriters, have access to the screenplays and read them and go: so, that’s what a screenplay looks like? Oh, this one’s kind of interesting. So, this is how Frank Darabont wrote it? Maybe it will help inspire some youngsters to write or will help guide them in some way. I remember when I was a kid, published screenplays didn’t really exist. You’re sitting there hanging out in junior high school or high school thinking shit, I’d like to be a screenwriter some day, but I don’t even know what a screenplay looks like. I’ve never had a chance to read one.  

Nowadays, of course, you’ve got access to pretty much anything. The published screenplay became a thing when my career was starting. They started publishing things like that and I was actually able to get my hands on classic screenplays, some great ones. Even as a professional by then, even as a guy who was making a living doing it, it was a wonderful thing being able to grab a screenplay I loved and read it.

Probably even more so.

Yeah! Oh, so that’s how William Goldman wrote that? Oh, that’s interesting. You read a great screenplay and it’s tremendously inspiring. It’s a great reading experience. I remember Quentin Tarantino slipping me the script to Kill Bill. I got the chance to read that even before he made the movie and I was knocked out by it. It’s a great reading experience even if you don’t see the movie. Not all screenplays do that. A lot of them are actually quite difficult to get through. But, the good ones? Oh man, they capture you. They grab you. Quentin’s a great writer. William Goldman was a great writer. Paddy Chayefsky was a great writer. Read any of their screenplays and if you’re interested in being a screenwriter, those are among the names I would certainly recommend. You’re on your way. At the very least you’ll know what the format of a screenplay page looks like. On a practical level, I’m glad these scripts are going to be out there.   

Absolutely. Plus, the way your screenplays are complimented in the book with all the bonus behind-the-scenes stuff, people can better appreciate how things can happen during filming that might force the director to have to let go of or change certain parts of the screenplay in order to best serve the movie being told through that screenplay. 

Yeah, that’s a great point in fact. That’s a great point when you read the screenplay. For example, looking back on my own script, things I thought were absolutely vital and had to be in the movie, sometimes you’re in the editing room having shot that and you’re going, why did I think I needed this? This is disposable, this line of dialogue or this half of a scene or this event or whatever. You never really know until you’re editing if the movie is telling you what it wants to be when you’re editing it. 

It’s reassuring to know that’s part of the process. The script really should be a good blueprint. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room to adjust as you go along or even improvise as you go along, but it is a blueprint. It’s not the finished house. The finished house is the finished house. The blueprint is the blueprint. So yeah, seeing how things do and can evolve because of time, circumstances (such as) a set fell over, an actor got sick or an actor had a great idea. You learn a lot by reading a script of a film you’re familiar with. That’s what I found as a guy who started reading screenplays when they became available.  

That’s a really good point you make. Part of the learning process isn’t just seeing what worked, but what didn’t work or what wasn’t necessary.

I imagine the challenge as a screenwriter, if you’re not going to direct your own film, is to know you have to connect with the right kind of director who will at least see those points during the script and understand any necessary changes. 

Oh, boy, you said a mouthful. That was the headline comment of the day what you just said, because in my experience, not counting my own movies, I’ve had more disappointments than results where I’ve jumped up and said wow, great, I’m so proud of this. Some screenwriters have had better luck than I have connecting with a director. Unless you really connect with that director and those instincts you’re going to wind up disappointed with what that director did to your script. That’s an unfortunate side effect of being a working screenwriter. Those disappointing experiences where more the case for me than not. 

Having said that, I’ve had a great thirty-year run (laughs). That’s pretty amazing itself looking back on it. From a kid that was hoping of maybe becoming a screenwriter, maybe becoming a director then looking back on it going wow, man, that kicked in. Thirty years straight of work. Not many people can say that. I’m counting my blessings these days is what I’m saying.  

Speaking of your thirty years in movies and thirty years of fans as each generation bleeds into the next, it’s interesting that although Shawshank and The Green Mile certainly do have their dark elements, The Green Mile in particular, they’re not exactly considered horror per se, but remain widely regarded by horror fans all the same. Why do you think these films fare so well with horror fans despite the (mostly) lack of blood and gore in these two particular films?

photo from The Shawshank Redemption
Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins share a light moment in The Shawshank Redemption.

Well, I think there’s that magic fairy dust that Stephen King has that rubs off of people. When you have that kind of devoted fan base that Steve has you can write anything and they’re going to be interested in whatever subject, whatever venue, whatever genre he wants to try on. We’ll go along with him because we love him and he always delivers as a storyteller. Certainly, if Shawshank existed by itself without Stephen King’s connection to it, I’m not sure if the horror fan base would have noticed it much. It would probably be off by itself like Driving Miss Daisy or one of those movies. The fact Steve King wrote it has a lot to do with that. Then again, the answer goes a lot deeper than the surface. Again, it’s those incredible storytelling instincts that Steve King uses when he tells a story that generates the motor, you know? Generates the engine for the film. It’s the same instincts he uses to write a horror piece so of course it’s going to be appealing. You can’t not be compelled by what the man puts down. 

That’s very true. I mean, I read an entire book of his of a girl walking through the woods listening to her favorite sports announcer and that was fantastic. 

(laughs) Exactly.

I always said he could literally write a novel — well, he has, hasn’t he? — about a woman chained to the bed. He wrote a story about a bunch of people in a supermarket with “The Mist.” Nobody writes I’m-trapped-in-this-one-place better than Stephen King. He could put an entire novel inside a stalled elevator and he would have you on the edge of your seat. He’s amazing that way. I love that about him. I don’t know how he does that. I have no idea how he pulls that off.

I think it’s the fairy dust you mentioned.

Oh, yeah.

He just has something flowing through him and you’re apparently the kind of guy who has a butterfly net that’s good enough to catch some of it and put on the screen.

He can’t not be interesting (laughs). No matter how he does it, he can’t not be interesting. Everything he writes has a compulsion that takes care of you. I can’t praise the man enough. 

As a way tie in with the title of the book we’re having this wonderful conversation about — Hope And Miracles — if I may ask, what miracles do you most hope for as we get through our current global pandemic and state of political and social turmoil?

My fondest hope? I feel like one of those beauty pageants…”Oh, what do you want? I want peace on Earth and good will to all men.” (laughs) 

I wish could remember to operate from a place of decency better. The Golden Rule seems to be something forgotten about today. Its been plowed under by greed and downright meanness and I don’t understand why that is. Everyone’s trying to get over on the other person. Score points. Bury the other guy. I don’t understand that. I don’t get it. You can see that I don’t get it in my movies. You look at Shawshank and The Green Mile and you hold that up against The Mist, you’ll see how I feel about humanity and what I think we’re capable of. There’s another reason I love Stephen King stories so much. He talks about those very things that matter to me most. I think that’s why his readership loves him so much. I wish people would chill out and just embrace the idea that we’re all in it together. It’s not at the expense of one another we should move ahead. It should be for the common good. It should be for the betterment of all. There’s so many insane childish things going on right now. I hope we grow up a little bit. I’ve been hoping for that since I was a kid.

You look at history which is pretty much defined by bloodshed and conflict. Well, when exactly are we going to grow up? It’s an interesting question. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’m not holding my breath either. That’s what Shawshank says: I’ve got my fingers crossed. The Mist says: I ain’t holding my breath. 

It’s interesting you mention that as a common thread to those films. I’m honestly surprised I hadn’t considered it until now that you’ve got these very confined places where there’s a big group of people with all these amazing resources and they should be able to collaborate, but for some reason they’re not. They’re all divided. 

theatrical poster for The MistRight. Well, it wasn’t actually until I was in the editing room when I realized it’s the counterpoint in Shawshank where you feel the movie thematically. Shawshank really is a movie about the value of hope. The Mist is about the destruction of hope. One is about the heights you can scale by holding onto hope and the other is the depths you can plunge to by letting go of it. I think they’re pretty interesting companion pieces, those two movies, for that reason. 

Going back to Stephen King, credit to Steve for having written those, but I thought it was interesting that both movies very much hinged on that one thematic headline word: hope. It’s just how we treat hope. It gives you the beautiful beach, or you’re screaming by the side of the road while they’re burning monsters. 

That’s the fun of storytelling, of being a storyteller for a living. When you have those little realizations and go aha! It’s cool to do movies in balanced, diametric opposition to each other. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add regarding why folks need this book on their shelf, or about any project you might be working on next for us all to sink our greedy teeth into?

Well, thanks for that opportunity. I’m not really working on anything in particular. I might be sliding into semi-retirement here. Once you’ve had three decades of deadlines and pressure zoom by, you kind of want to slow down a bit. Right now, I’m mostly just enjoying the quiet. I’m very much enjoying my marriage. I’m very much enjoying it, which is a first. (laughs) We just celebrated our eighth anniversary, which blows my mind.

Wow, happy anniversary!

Thank you. I love her more now than the day I married her, and that’s a nice thing to be able to say. We’ve got our five little rescue dogs and we do our charity work on the side. Living on the central coast of California and not in the insane pit of psychic toxic energy that is Los Angeles now. I wake up every day and count my blessings and kind of get on with things. 

If something else arises that can really stir my spirit, my creative urges again, then I’ll follow those instincts, if they let me. But, at the moment? Nothing in particular. I’m just grateful for the opportunities I’ve had so far and I’m really grateful to Barry Hoffman and Tyson and Dara and Gauntlet for doing this. It’s an honor to have these screenplays published as something worthwhile and special. All the folks who’ve jumped in and helped make the book a little bit special by making a contribution to it, writing an essay or writing a journal entry. I’m really flattered by that, really moved by that. 

I’m appreciative as well we can all enjoy their contributions in one big package with Hope and Miracles. I also feel sort of bad for hoping you’re not taking your semi-retirement too seriously so we can see more of your stuff, but I am glad to hear you’re kicking back and enjoying the fruits. 

Hey man, if something else comes along all you’ve got to do is give me a call and we’ll talk about it.

I really appreciate that, Frank. It was an honor to chat with you and I’d be doubly honored to help spread the word on anything else you might cook up down the road. 

Well, bless your heart, Rick. This was a total pleasure. Awesome interview, great conversation and I thank you for your time.

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