Everyone has enjoyed one of Stephen King‘s movies, books, or short stories. Few know about Stephen King’s “Dollar Babies,”. Every year, Stephen King picks lucky amateurs, and gives them one short year to produce an original screenplay or film for non commerical purposes, based on his short stories. The majority of past “Dollar Babies” have been either film students, experienced filmmakers or those associated with fine arts departments and film schools. Army Major (Retired) Howard Schellenberg, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a 60-year old military veteran, an amateur writer with no previous exposure to Hollywood. Stephen King has chosen him this year.
Howard clarified, “Like probably millions of other people, I wrote a heartfelt letter to Mr. King asking for a shot at what is, in my opinion, one of his best short stories, Beachworld. I never, ever expected a reply,”
Less than 24-hours after sending his request to Stephen King, Schellenberg had a signed contract in his hands to produce both an original screenplay and film. He is also first disabled veteran ever to be given this honor.
Schellenberg further said “I am fully aware of the enormous responsibility Mr. King has placed on me. He could have very easily given this to another film student or school. Instead, I’m now a ‘Stephen King Dollar Baby,’ and that’s an honor I can hardly get my head around. It’s just unbelievable.”
Major Schellenberg joins a large group of Dollar Babies that includes “Shawshank Redemption” writer and director Frank Darabont.
“The lesson from all this, I believe, is that we should never give up on our dreams. In high school, I desperately wanted to be a screenwriter and filmmaker, but I joined the Army to take care of my wife and kids instead. Before I knew it, I was just another ‘middle aged’ guy with a young man’s aspirations,” said Major Schellenberg.
Schellenberg has just 12-months to complete both the screenplay and a short, non-commercial film. Stephen King will watch it and put on his bookshelf with his other Dollar Baby movies. The film might release to the public at some later date. Schellenberg explained the importance of this award, saying, “The fact that he will see my movie and will be sitting on Stephen King’s bookshelf alongside works from Hollywood legends is legacy enough for me. I’m a simple guy who now has what I consider to be a ‘Golden Ticket’ from a real life Willy Wonka. It’s enough. I don’t need a chocolate factory to be happy.”