To help save time on the tight schedule, the producers and director Frank Darabont hired the camera crew from The Shield, to shoot the film. This camera crew is able to move fast, due to the hectic TV production schedule. There was an "A" and a "B" unit, which cut down on production time.
In the opening shot of the film, David is painting in his room. The picture he's drawing is a design from Stephen King's Dark Tower series of the gunslinger Roland. Another design in the room is that of the poster of John Carpenter's The Thing. John Carpenter also wrote and directed The Fog, which shares obvious themes with The Mist.
In addition to the Gunslinger painting at the beginning of the film, the movie shares another connection with other Stephen King works. The line, "My life for you", spoken by Mrs. Carmody in the film, (although not in the novella), originally appeared in the novel, The Stand, as spoken by Donald Merwin Elbert, (the Trashcan Man), first in his dreams, and then later in person, to Randall Flagg, (the Dark Man or the Walkin' Dude). The line later appeared as dialogue between other villainous characters and subsequent incarnations of Randall Flagg, such as Walter o'Dim in the Dark Tower series novels, and Flagg, in The Eyes of the Dragon.
During an action scene in the film, a man runs into a wire rotating-book shelf in the grocery store. If you look carefully, you can clearly see that all the books on the shelf are written by Stephen King.
When the group is in the next-door pharmacy, David (Thomas Jane) can be seen taking a comic book as promised for his son - an issue of "Hellboy". Later in real life, Jane directed the comicbook movie Dark Country which starred Ron Perlman, the star of the movie version of Hellboy.
The pharmacy next to the Food House store is called "King's Pharmacy", most likely a reference to author Stephen King. Coincidentally, Stephen King himself once had a cameo as a pharmacist in the film adaptation of his novel Thinner.
The Dark Tower poster being worked on by David Drayton was actually painted by Drew Struzan, an artist famous for his movie posters. (Star Wars, Indiana Jones franchise, Harry Potter franchise, The Thing, Blade Runner, etc.) All of the posters in the studio at the beginning of the film were painted by Struzan, as was the film poster for this film.
When David grabs a comic from the rack in the pharmacy, you can clearly see an issue of "The Goon" towards the bottom. Eric Powell, the creator of this comic, is shown on the special features as a friend of Frank Darabont and crew for the day.
In the pharmacy scene, when David Drayton is collecting a comic book for his son, Frank Darabont proposed to Thomas Jane that he should grab a copy "The Punisher: War Journal" since Jane played the Punisher three years earlier. Jane declined because he had a falling out with the producers of the The Punisher franchise and decided not to return for the sequel. He instead grabs an issue of "HellBoy" as a shout out to friend Ron Perlman.
Shot in the six-week hiatus of The Shield with its cinematographer, two camera operators, their editor and the script supervisor, all of whom the director has worked with when he directed episodes of the show.
Actor Samuel Witwer plays the role of Private Jessup in the film. Singer/actor Sheb Wooley, whom by many is said to be the voice behind the Wilhelm scream played a role with the same name and rank in the movie Distant Drums, which is the first movie that features the Wilhelm scream.
Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Melissa Suzanne McBride would all later go on to work together again in the AMC series "The Walking Dead", another post-apocalyptic survival type series, a few episodes of which were also produced and directed by Frank Darabont.
Frank Darabont had originally been offered $30 million by a producer to make this film, but with one crippling caveat: Darabont would have to change his planned ending, a conclusion he'd personally envisioned and nursed for twenty years. In the end, he turned to producer Bob Weinstein and made the movie for half the amount, but only after forfeiting his directorial salary.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Cinefex magazine, there is a favorite scene near the end of the book that was not in the script. In the scene, David Dreyton and the others with him in the vehicle, witness a giant, 6-legged behemoth walk over them. Darabont originally had excised this scene from his script. However, several of the people working with the special effects company CafeFX, convinced him to put it back into the film.
Frank Darabont originally wrote an opening scene showing the military scientist referenced to by Private Jessup accidentally opening the dimension portal that allows the creatures and the mist to enter our world. Over dinner, Andre Braugher questioned Darabont whether this scene was necessary. After thinking about it for a week, Darabont was convinced to scrap the scene, leaving the nature of the mist more ambiguous.
Frank Darabont's "controversial" ending actually comes directly from Stephen King's source material. Written in first-person, David entertains this notion in his mind as a distant possibility, noting there are three bullets and four people (Dan Miller doesn't make it to the car in the novella), but he ends his journal and leaves it in a restaurant the survivors have sought refuge in before the car runs out of gas. Darabont felt this ending was too ambiguous and wrote the story to its finite climax, and ending that Darabont says in the DVD commentary was endorsed by King as the ending King wished he would have thought of.
When the hacked-off piece of tentacle is poked in the loading dock, it sizzles, turns black, and melts into a puddle of black goo. This process is exactly what happens to the bizarre creatures that appear in Stephen King's novel "From a Buick 8". Those creatures also were speculated to have come from another dimension, possibly the same one.
Amanda has an empty six-shot revolver and two full speed-loaders in her purse. This means there are twelve rounds of ammunition for the revolver. During the course of the movie, exactly twelve rounds are fired before the revolver is out of ammunition.
At the end of the film, when the rescue truck with Melissa McBride passes by David, Frank Darabont originally wanted a second truck to pass by David, this one filled with various people from the market, including Jim, Bud, Mr. Mackey, and most of Mrs. Carmody's ex-followers, indicating that they were rescued safely from the store. Unfortunately, most of the extras and other actors had already left because their parts were finished, so Darabont had to scrap this idea.