Rainy Season: An Interview with Vanessa Wright

Another short story from Stephen King is being made into a film.

Prolific horror author Stephen King has been giving his readers nightmares for decades.

As King’s writing gained popularity in the late 1970’s, he received many requests from young filmmakers wanting to make his short stories into movies. The Dollar Baby concept was established shortly after.

King’s policy is still in effect today, in which any student or aspiring filmmaker can purchase one of his short stories for a one-time fee of one dollar, and obtain the rights for one year to adapt it into a screenplay. Although the film is not eligible for commercial distribution, it may be entered into film festivals.

Stephen King’s Dollar Babies have helped many filmmakers showcase their talents, and have impacted the industry. One of the most famous was Frank Darabont’s first film The Woman in the Room which launched his career. Darabont later brought The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist to the big screen, as well as developed television’s current #1 show The Walking Dead.

Recently I caught up with Vanessa Wright, the writer and executive producer of the latest concept from Stephen King entitled Rainy Season.



Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your project Vanessa. This is really exciting for Stephen King fans. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Sure, I love talking about myself (*winking*).  I originated from the undulating womb of my mother, circa 1976 in Riverside, CA.  My father was in the Air Force so we moved around quite a bit and I have enjoyed living in CA, MA, OH…I have always been interested in writing and fimmaking, beginning with penning my first book, The Witch’s Castle, when I was 7.
I have always wanted to create these fictional worlds and bring them to life with the intent of scaring the viewer/reader or making them laugh.  I like to have that balance between humor and the macabre.
What attracted you to the horror genre? Do you remember how old you were?
I was 7 years old, sitting on the stairs in my house while my parents watched The Amityville Horror on TV.  I gingerly peeked around the corner catching glimpses of the film, kickstarting a lifetime of nightmares and fears.  The adrenaline rush that comes along with being scared was addicting and I found myself chasing that high.  Thank God it was scary movies, could you imagine if I would have witnessed my parents doing heroin and jumped on that band wagon!
I, of course, had to sneak around to get my ‘horror fix’, as I was not old enough to watch any these films.  I watched Poltergeist at a friend’s house when I was 8, her parents had a ‘hands off’ approach to parenting.  When we moved to Ohio and got cable television, I used to sit down in front of the TV and watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies.  I started with Friday the 13th part III, My Bloody Valentine, The Curse of the Cat People, C.H.U.D., An American Werewolf in London, etc.
My mother was a huge Stephen King fan and had read all of his books.  I was always curious and wanted to read them but she always told me they would be too scary and give me nightmares…too late.  When I was 14, I picked up a copy of Four Past Midnight and was hooked.  I went back and read from the beginning, he truly is the Master of Horror.
Did you originally want to be a writer, or a film maker?
I went to Ohio University and studied video production and film.  After graduation, I moved to LA with a rag tag bunch of friends to pursue a career in music videos.  I was drawn to the experimental, short format film.  Music has always been a huge inspiration. When I sit down and start a new script I generally formulate a song playlist and keep it going until I ‘fade to black’.
Up until I was about 16 writing and making little “movies” had been a hobby, then I went to see a film.  This film was not a Hollywood blockbuster.  We saw it at the local art house theatre and it was an independent movie.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  I thought all movies had big stars and huge budgets.  I had no idea that you could make movies like this.  The film was Reservoir Dogs and I realized at that moment that I wanted to do this for a living.
I wrote my first feature in college, a thriller called ‘Melting Point’.  I was just learning the craft and the process and was completely hooked.  I decided to focus on writing and directing.
As I gained more wisdom and life experiences, my writing improved and I went on to do pretty well in some competitions.   Bayou Gold was a 2003 Semi-Finalist in the American Zoetrope Screenwriting competition and 2015 Official Selection in the Oaxaca Global Script Challenge.  The Time Changer – Into the Past was a 2014 Finalist in the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival and the 2015 Official Selection in Chicago’s Indie Horror Fest. The Time Changer – Close at Hand was a 2015 Finalist in the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival.  Rainy Season is a 2015 Official Selection in the Northeast Horror Fest Film Festival and 2016 Official Selection in the Milledgeville Film Festival.
What made you decide to take advantage of Stephen King’s Dollar Babies, and why did you pick Rainy Season?
A Facebook friend had posted a link about Stephen King’s Dollar Babies in a group that I help form called Above The Line Artistry.  I went to Stephen King’s website and read all about it. I think most people might ask, ‘why in the world I would put so much time and energy into a film that can’t make any money and that cannot be distributed.  Well…I’m not doing it for the money.  I looked at this as an opportunity to have my name attached, in some capacity, to Mr. King and to showcase myself and a talented team of up and coming artists and actors.
I read through the list of available stories and many of them I knew, so I wanted to find one I wasn’t familiar with.  I read Rainy Season from his collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes.  It reminded me a bit of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, and sure enough, King makes a reference to that tale a few pages in. Personally the thing I found scariest about this story wasn’t what was on the page, but all the subtext and things that weren’t being said.  I thought, “this could be a really dark tale and translate really well to the big screen.”
I’m hoping when we send the film to Stephen King, he takes one look at our film and says “I gotta work with this Vanessa, gal”.
As a huge fan of Stephen King myself, there are some film adaptations that I loved, and there are others that I felt were better left alone as novels. How do you feel walking into this project, and the expectations that will be there from his fans?
I completely agree with you here, there are some great adaptations and there have been a few that were, how do I put this…a little lackluster.  I wouldn’t trust myself to do this adaptation if I wasn’t a fan of King.  I have read most of his books (not all of them, full disclosure) and I have even read his book on the craft of writing.  I wanted to make a film that I would enjoy seeing, that Stephen King fans would enjoy seeing and most importantly, a film that King himself would enjoy seeing.
That really is the cherry on top in this whole process.  Stephen King will be seeing our completed film and that is extremely nerve racking, and extremely exciting. The expectations are high on this and we are not going to cut corners.  For a short film with a modest budget of $30,000 we have some really talented people lending their skills and expertise.
I also really focused on the subtext of Rainy Season in the film adaptation, we wanted more of ‘What are the actors not saying’, let’s focus on that.  We decided to focus on the tension and suspense of the story.  Alfred Hitchcock said “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” This was my mantra while writing the script.
You can help bring Rainy Season to life by clicking here.

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  • Mary-Anne Nelligan
    18 February 2016 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Great interveiw! Can’t wait to see this adaption of this short story. 🙂