“Dream”: In the Making
Read the whole article first, then see video embed at the bottom … 😀
Interviews by Lisa Gregory
This will be short, though not as short as the film. “Dream” is a short film by Broken Wings Productions. Inspired by a short story by Jaiden Frost. Length: five minutes. Three producers. Two main cast members. One sound designer. Budget: $0. Music by Goodnight Curses. Universal. Mysterious. Shocking. Beautiful.
Main character and narrator (actor/producer Dustin Lewis) is torn between the two loves of his life: his girlfriend (actress Kaitlyn Lewis) and pursuing a career in music. A career that involves leaving town and his girlfriend for a while. The girlfriend’s name is Dream, by the way. She has been to the doctor, but doesn’t tell her boyfriend. He leaves. When we view him in the present tense, narrating, it appears as if he might be looking down while he explains the entire account, but his eyes are in the dark, shadowed by the brim of a hat. There’s a sparkling engagement ring he finally delivers to Dream with remarkable style even though he is forced to present it to her differently in the end. There’s more. In fact, everything described above is merely a memorable spring rain prefacing the rainbow that is “Dream.”
When you watch “Dream” you see it. You hear it. Chances are very good that you feel it. Something about this seemingly simple, low-budget, yet masterfully made little film begged me to ask what else? In this story—in this film—it is as though its original storyteller, editors, and producers are going for something more than the ordinary separation between ordinary human beings. I decided to interview those behind the creation/production of “Dream,” beginning with a face-to-face meeting with 20-year-old writer Jaiden Frost.
Jaiden was sixteen when his family decided to move from North Carolina to Iowa. He didn’t want to leave. He argued that they go ahead without him, which they eventually did. At a film festival in New York City he came across Tony Murnahan’s Stwrongtone Media. Jaiden proceeded to write the original version of the story that later evolved into “Dream” the short film.
Q: How did you become interested in short film?
Jaiden: “Skate film. We filmed our skateboarding, which became the ‘Kronikles of Omnipotence.’ They are films about my life and how I perceive it [while skateboarding]. We finished a few of the ‘Kronikles’ films, but I plan on doing a total of seven installments, or chapters. My friends and I did some skit comedy after that… but I’ve moved toward more serious, personal work.”
Q: Is the girl in the film like anyone from your personal life?
Jaiden: “The girl represents—severely represents—my childhood. I was really glad Kaitlyn was chosen for the role because she has blonde hair, not white, but… for me her character in the film represents everything pure.”
Q: When did these feelings about your childhood take place for you in real life?
Jaiden: “I was 16 when I told my family to go on to Iowa while I stayed behind. I still went to school, but I had some issues with breaking off with this one girl. There was a house where my friends and I stayed that we called Kasa de Punk. It was a party house. We weren’t involved with drugs, but the cops kept coming out there and eventually found enough reason to go and shut it down. It wasn’t being properly maintained. At that point that I went to Iowa. But the old days were gone and they were never coming back.”
Q: Loss of childhood really brings a whole new dimension to this already meaningful film. Did you have to work hard at figuring out a good balance between how much to reveal versus how much to keep mysterious?
Jaiden: “I never expected anyone to figure it out.”
Q: By the time “Dream” the film was finished, do you feel that the main actor was portrayed as a complex character as expected or were you pleasantly surprised?
Jaiden: “I believe that the character from the original story was complex to start with. A few parts in the original story [but not the film] actually came from arguments I had with my mother. You feel like—of all people— your mother should understand you. The character was so upset at not being understood… but… Dusty really took it to a new level.”
Q: What are you working on these days?
Jaiden: “I’m in a band [Aquience] and we just revamped our style to where we’re more experimental now.”
(Aquience is online at http://www.myspace.com/aquience).
Joe Stauffer is director of photography, editor, and producer for “Dream.” He is also a singer, composer, pianist, and music video producer. He has a solo project called Goodnight Curses. “I have been shooting music videos and film for about ten years and I am a musician… After years of playing in bands, I still wanted to be involved in music, without being in an actual band… [S]hooting music videos was a perfect way to do that. From there I moved into more narrative based projects.”
Q: Do you have any other versions of this film? Was it a YouTube audience you had in mind for “Dream” or does your target audience extend beyond that?
Joe: “By no means are YouTube viewers our primary audience. We will be submitting this film to festivals in the future, as well as numerous other public screenings.”
Q: Who selected the tracks? Which came first, the song or the film?
Joe: “The song ‘Giving None’ at the end of the film was written before I was approached by Tony and Dusty about shooting ‘Dream.’ The song is very personal and [was written for and about] someone that I love very much. It just so happened to fit the mood of the film. Tony had heard the song from a rough mix I sent him, so when he approached me about the project, he also asked me about using the song. The piano piece during the film itself was composed by me specifically for this project. Another valuable and effective element of this film is the sound design, which was beautifully done by my good friend Nino Ninkovic.”
Q: How about your own future plans? What’s in the works?
Joe: “Broken Wings is currently developing a feature film along with several new music videos and short films. Our current and past works can be viewed at our website: http://brokenwingsproductions.com/.”
(Joe’s solo project, Goodnight Curses, will be releasing an album by the fall of 2010. You can preview it at http://www.myspace.com/goodnightcurses).
Producer Tony Murnahan is 12,027 days old at the time of this interview. Past projects include “The David Long Story,” Eight Ball,” and “Hammer,” which earned Best Horror – Ava Gardner Indie Film Fest 2009.
Q: How/ when did you get into short film?
Tony: “In 2007 my buddy Joe Stauffer inspired me to get into video. I stopped touring in bands and I still wanted to do something creative, expressive, and connected to the music community. I found making live music videos for local bands fit that bill. I met up with Dusty Lewis in 2008. We immediately began working and creating together. He definitely pushed me into a more artistic mode and inspired me to start doing film.”
Q: What appeals to you about short film?
Tony: “I like working with shorts because of the constraint and limitations that are put upon me. Normally we do this for the sake of the art. So we invest our own time, our own money, our own skills and labor. I can’t imagine making a feature film with no budget when we have wives and children to feed.”
Q: From a producer’s standpoint do you feel that the narrator’s character gained complexity during the film’s production?
Tony: “I feel that Dusty and I definitely made [him] more complex during our rewrite… Since all of us have been in bands, have either played lots of shows or toured, have had girlfriends who had to deal with it, we felt that we had plenty of real experience to inject into this story. So… [w]e went through the story as if we were the main character and… added how we thought a musician in this position would act or what he would say or how he would feel. [M]y wife and I struggled with [this] when we first began dating. I told her I was going to tour and that she wasn’t going to stop me…”
Q: Future plans/ projects?
Tony: “Dusty and I plan to produce at least five projects this year. So far this year I’ve been shooting and editing a lot of ‘Mike’s Wild Kingdom.’ I have some music videos scheduled this year. I’m open for new opportunities to work with creative people.”
(“Mike’s Wild Kingdom” is at http://www.myspace.com/mikeswildkingdom).
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you would like to add?
Tony: “In the scene where the main character packs his guitar and walks through the door, you’ll notice a small, decorative elephant in the background behind Dream. This was a coincidence, but could also be seen as the ‘elephant in the room’ [idiom] in that Dream’s cancer is the underlying issue not being discussed. Total coincidence, but it worked out beautifully!”
Dustin R. Lewis (AKA Dusty), producer, also plays the main character/ narrator in “Dream.” He is married to Kaitlyn Lewis, who plays the role of Dream.
Q: How/ when did you get into short film?
Dustin: “I have always like watching short films, but I didn’t get into making them until the day fate smiled down upon me, the day that Tony Murnahan parked his car in my driveway. Soon after meeting Tony he introduced me to Joe. I knew that anything was possible with these two on my side… I have to give my wife Kaitlyn all the credit though. She introduced Tony and I. [W]ithout her none of this would have been possible.”
Q. What appeals to you about short film?
Dustin: “It’s short, it’s sweet, it doesn’t take a million dollars to make.”
Q: Did you purposely use bluish tint in some scenes to express a mood of sadness as opposed to other scenes?
Dustin: “[E]very edit and color choice that Joe makes is intentional.”
Q: Your target audience for “Dream”?
Dustin: “My target audience is the entire world.”
Q: How about your own future plans?
Dustin: “I just want to continue working on everything creative as long as I can continue working with my friends and continue being proud of what we make. I don’t want to compromise myself or my friends for money.”
Q: Any plans to make this short film into anything longer?
Jaiden: “The producers don’t plan on doing anything more and I don’t have a budget, but if I did, if it were possible, I would love to bring back the same actors.”
Joe: “No plans…[t]he film is what it is. Of course there are things we would do different if we were to go back and do it again. That is natural for any artist to experience.”
Dustin: “It is complete… it is done… I don’t think it needs anything else. We don’t have any plans for a feature version, but I would like to see Jaiden write one.”
Last line in the film: “She became my dream. And my dream became reality.” I think Dustin Lewis words it best when he says, “I definitely have my own interpretation… however I would like to remain silent on this because your interpretation is valuable.”
BROKEN WINGS Productions
Joe Stauffer – Director of Photography, Editor, Producer
Tony Murnahan – Producer
Dustin Lewis – Producer
Nino Ninkovic – Sound Design
Jaiden Frost – Story By
Music by: Goodnight Curses
Special thanks to Barbara Swain