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Literature

Horror master Stephen King sells movie rights to teenagers for US$1

  • King lets Blaenau Gwent Film Academy make version of ‘Stationary Bike’
  • Story of a man who uses stationary bike to lose weight but has strange thoughts about being followed
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 10:03pm

The horror writer Stephen King has given a group of teenage fans permission to turn one of his tales into a film at a cost of US$1 for the rights.

Youngsters from Tredegar in Blaenau Gwent, Wales, will spend the next couple of months working on the script before filming the story, Stationary Bike, in and around the town.

They will not be able to make a profit on the film, but hope to get it screened at festivals and will send King a copy as part of the deal.

Members of the Blaenau Gwent Film Academy, which is supported by the BBC’s Children in Need, decided to write to King as they cast around for a project.

Kevin Phillips of Green Valley Film Productions, who will help the teenagers make the movie, said King’s office came back within 24 hours to explain how they could go about obtaining the rights to the story.

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“They were fantastic,” he said.

“Within a few days, the contract was signed and we sent off an actual dollar to the US.”

Alfie Evans, 16, and Cerys Cliff, 14, are working on the script and have cast a local actor in the lead part. Phillips will direct the movie and is hoping filming will begin around Christmas time.

King’s short story is about an artist, Richard Sefkitz, who begins riding a stationary bike in the basement of his New York flat building to help tackle high cholesterol.

To help alleviate his boredom, he buys maps and plots a route from New York to the town of Herkimer, each day marking the amount of miles he has “ridden” towards his goal.

But as he nears the target, he begins having strange thoughts that there is someone following him on his daily rides.

The filmmakers will use the backstage of Little Theatre Cinema in Tredegar to mock up the basement, but can choose from outdoor locations including mountains and forests in the post-industrial landscape, should they wish to.

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It will not be the first horror film to be made in Tredegar in recent times. The academy’s first production, Knight of the Blood Moon, has recently been finished and is described as a “blood-splattering feast” by Phillips.

The Tredegar teenagers are benefiting from a scheme called dollar baby under which students are allowed to make films based on King’s work.

Frank Darabont made a short called The Woman in the Room on a dollar baby contract and went on to direct The Mist, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, all King stories.