When I was twelve years old we used to live outside of town on a ten acre plot of land on the side of a mountain. We moved halfway through the school year, so each morning she would have to load my sister and I into the van and make the thirty minute drive down the highway and through the city to get to our elementary school.
Seeing that I had a captive audience (in a literal sense, since we were all stuck in the van together) I seized the opportunity and used this time to tell them about the dreams I had had the previous night. As my mom remembers it, the stories were sprawling, told with extreme detail and usually lasted the entire drive. That being said, I’m confident that they weren’t exactly entertaining or insightful – and I’m very impressed that my family lasted the rest of the school year without pleading with me to stop the madness.
Throughout my entire life I’ve always had complex and vivid dreams – and I continue to wake up to find them still intact in my memory. It’s an ongoing area of strange inspiration, which I often write into my scripts and stories – dream sequences that are usually a mix of the mundane and fantastic. I actively seek out similar scenes in films – some of my absolute favourites are the opening moments to Federico Fellini’s 8½, the nightmarish vision from David Lynch’s Eraserhead and the epic soaring dreams in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
Fellini spoke on the subject of dreams and film in a quote that has resonated with me since I first read it during film school:
“Talking about dreams is like talking about movies, since the cinema uses the language of dreams; years can pass in a second and you can hop from one place to another. It’s a language made of image. And in the real cinema, every object and every light means something, as in a dream.”
My creative process is rooted in intuition, symbolism and emotion – and the freedom that writing dreams gives me is something that I always enjoy. It’s a fascinating way to explore a character, often without the need for any dialogue. When I watch films I tend to let the imagery and feeling wash over me without actively analyzing them. I feel that the surreal nature of dreams often can give audiences that same experience.
I still remember my dreams each night, but they now touch on the same ideas and images night after night: hotels, the ocean, the aftermath of a great disaster. While the dreams themselves don’t always provide inspiration for future projects I still am grateful that I wake up each morning with a new story to tell – and that I have a husband who always seems genuinely happy to hear them.
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