So, here's a little bit of info on our project:
For a couple of years now I have been looking to direct a dramatic film that will satisfy my growing professional association with (and interest in) Victorian history, while at same time stay true to my eclectic interests and fanciful imagination.
I happened to re-read Stephen King’s short story "The Doctor’s Case" a while back, and realized it could be the perfect vehicle for me right now.
If you’re not familiar with "The Doctor’s Case," it is essentially King’s non-canonical gift to the Sherlock Holmes multiverse. Originally written for an anthology called The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, "The Doctor’s Case" was later republished in King’s early-1990s Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection.
The premise has Dr. Watson, now in his nineties, relating to the reader a story of the one and only time he can recall solving a serious case before his famous companion, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is by now 40 years in his grave and Watson is nearing the end of his own life, so he feels it’s finally time to tell this tale 'out of school.'
"The Doctor's Case" is basically a traditional locked-room murder mystery in a house full of felines, with an Agatha Christie-like twist in its third act, crafted around the conceit that Sherlock Holmes is allergic to cats. Because of this, Watson spots an important clue that Holmes initially overlooks, and is finally able to enjoy some astonished respect from both Holmes and Inspector Lestrade (of Scotland Yard) for his own 'deductive' reasoning, and ultimately save an entire family from certain ruin.
In April of last year I became aware of a program that Stephen King has administered, since 1977, called Dollar Babies. In a nutshell: a pitch is made to adapt one of King's currently unlicensed short stories, and if the Dollar Babies team accepts the pitch, King will grant permission to adapt his work for $1.00. The catch is, the rights are non-commercial. Dollar Babies candidates are permitted to raise money to make the film, and can show it at festivals and some non-profit venues after the fact, but any commercial rights to the product are moot – unless, it would seem, if King particularly likes the finished film.
Stephen King has, historically, watched all of the completed Dollar Babies projects, regardless of quality. As he himself has said: "Many of these adaptations weren't so great, but a few showed at least a smattering of talent... in many cases one viewing was all a person could bear." ["The Essential Stephen King" Spignesi, Stephen J. Career Press / New Page Books 2001]. Several of them seem to have been worth a closer look, however, and at least four of the films have enjoyed wider distribution as a result of rights negotiated after the fact (one of the early recipients of a commercial deal through Dollar Babies was a young filmmaker named Frank Darabont).
To make a long story just a little bit longer… I made a pitch to the Dollar Babies program this past November, and have successfully secured permission to film "The Doctor’s Case." Based on this, my Northern FanCon-producing friend from Prince George, Norm Coyne, has come on board as producer and we are on our way to securing a relatively small budget to make the film.
Everyone currently involved is aware of the fact that we can’t expect to make money off the final product, but the sheer novelty of working on a film that Stephen King is pretty much guaranteed to watch, coupled with the carrot of it maybe, just maybe going a little further than that, has drawn some very talented people to the project already, on both sides of the lens.
We also have several amazing historical locations and heritage properties throughout the province of British Columbia onboard as authentic shooting locations (including Craigdarroch Castle and Emily Carr House in Victoria, BC, and Barkerville Historic Town & Park and Cottonwood House Historic Site in the Cariboo) and the script is now complete.
One of the key players on our team is my good friend Michael Coleman, an actor and voice-over artist from Vancouver, BC. Michael plays Happy on ABC’s Once Upon A Time, and has voiced several high-profile animated characters over the years. He also happens to operate a major film and video-game production facility called SchoolCreative - Institute of the Arts in the city.
Michael will play Watson, and has graciously offered some of the considerable production resources behind SchoolCreative to help ensure "The Doctor’s Case" is one of the most memorable Dollar Babies to date.
We have several veterans of the Canadian film and television industry in key creative and production positions, and I am confident that our take on "The Doctor’s Case" will prove itself worth a second look, or more.
In a way, it’s the perfect situation to find ourselves in: if the movie is terrible (which it won’t be) no one but us and the author will ever see it. If it’s good, well... who knows?
As further means to this end we have decided to visually and dramatically unpack the “framing device” of the story's literary narrative – the fact that Watson is relating this tale 50 years after the events he’s describing took place - and write original material that is set in the fall of 1940. We have fashioned a couple of essential (albeit, relatively short) scenes involving an injured, aging Dr. Watson and one Captain Norton, an American military nurse who refuses, for reasons of safety, to leave his side (Captain Norton is a character of our invention).
These 1940 scenes are imperative to the dramatic framing of our story, and provide its epilogue. The scenes take place in London, at night, during the Blitz; a period of intense bombing of the city by Nazi aircraft in World War II. The sights and sounds of war on the home-front serve as background to our older Watson’s retelling of the events of "The Doctor's Case" as they occurred in 1889, and provide a powerful juxtaposition in visual style as we cut back and forth from one time period to the other throughout the course of the film.
I am happy to report that our search for the perfect actor to play Captain Norton, the American military nurse who serves as audience to Dr. Watson's tale, and who guards a very interesting story of her own, is over.
The list had only one name on it - and she said yes!
But that's not all! As fortune would have it, we've got not one but three Stephen King alumni in our cast so far!
We have also confirmed that my cousin, Joanna Douglas, will take a small but significant role in "The Doctor's Case." Joanna, who is perhaps best recognized for her co-starring role as Samantha Strange on the hit CBC television show Being Erica, played Doris Dunning in the recent, James Franco-starring Hulu mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's 11/22/63.
Rounding out our King-ly triumvirate is my friend Gaelan Bleasdale. Gaelan, who these days goes by the name Evil Ebenezer, is an award-winning Canadian hip-hop recording artist and sometimes actor who, in his youth, was featured as one of the Bowers Gang in the 1991 ABC mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's IT, starring Tim Curry.
And that's just a small taste of what's to come.
We've got literally dozens of exciting announcements coming soon that will add to the excitement of the project... so please, feel free to take a look through our perks and the information provided here on Kickstarter and one our website and know that, while you're doing so, we truly appreciate any support you can provide as we try to make this incredible dream come true!
James Douglas, Writer/Director
"The Doctor's Case"
Risks and challenges
One inherent challenge to producing a Dollar Baby is that we cannot provide our backers with digital copies of the finished film. Our permission to adapt "The Doctor's Case" does not include conventional distribution rights, so other than being able to show the film at non-commercial festivals and approved, not-for-profit exhibitions and educational institutions, we are unable to promise one of the mainstay perks for traditional Kickstarter film projects. Namely, a hard copy of the film.
We are attempting to make up for this abnormality by providing some unique and ultimately valuable experiences and collectibles from the production for those backers with a real desire to see this dream project come to life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)