Dreamscape was one of the most emotionally complicated films of my life. It began with an ambitious, slightly less balding film maker starting out, eager to face the world with a fantastic new script for a science fiction horror. I had formed a close relationship with Dead Good Films Like and I had an aspiration to make a great film for them that they could release so I could finally pay my actors. Ah the dream. I was an unemployed deadbeat who pooled everything I had to make this film. Wow, did that backfire on me! – Or so I thought.
The script was called Spiral of Terror, and the run time was an estimated 45 minutes with around 10 to 15 minutes of padding to be added on with extra scenes and shots of the spaceships.
I had 15 actors who were locals and some members of my local filmmaking group who had signed up as cast. With a huge cast, I felt I’d be able to finally make something of real ‘merit’. With an eager cast, smashing script, AF101e on hand and delusions of grandeur, I was ready to make it big with this surefire winner!
The story was simple, the crew find a cursed knife on board a space freighter. The crew who went on board start dying of radiation sickness. As the story continues, more people die and are found smushed up as white powder like a man they find on the freighter. People assume it’s some form of illness. The knife starts summoning weird stuff and people start going mad as they are killed brutally. Eventually, everyone is killed except one crew member, a portal opens up and transfixed the person walks into the light. Focus on the knife glowing, fade to black. Sadly, what I created was not anything close to the final product I had envisioned.
Basically the film I wanted to make was standard indie crap horror. Just how I like it. The title theme I worked on a little with my brother but he did most of the technical stuff. We used art from my friend and longtime collaborator Sair Feather and made a title sequence. It was eerie. Weird and had small allusions to the title sequences I liked from the Alien films.
I originally shot a bit of work with Simon Goodway in my garage. I didn’t have a lot of space to play around with, so we had a day between two takes to shoot everything in my garage. We shot the scene from the front and the back with a day in between, and I’m surprised how well it goes together seamlessly. This filled me with confidence as I hadn’t expected things to work out so well. Simon was reliable and helpful and I couldn’t have handled the oncoming disaster without him.
Production day. None of my cast were showing up. I was thankful to have Zach Miller, Simon and Megan Reilly, but I was a mess. The night before several people had flaked out so I’d spent most of the night doing frenzied rewrites. Then ******* showed up. ******* Was my ex and she demanded the use of the AF101e camera and all my good lenses. The AF101e was my main filming camera. I couldn’t say no so I was left with a Lumix G5. Now the G5 isn’t a bad camera but if you are a film maker you’ll probably understand the primal screaming and tears of rage and frustration I had to hold back. No matter. I can handle this. Damn, we were down to 4 actors.
Then it happened. In desperation I contacted a guy I didn’t know, Shaun Woolls and I begged him to help. I needed to try and up the actors as I had to kill me differently now in the film. Shaun agreed to help me and was an absolute lifesaver. He saved my film. If I ever make it big, I’m gonna hire the guy because he has a great screen presence… To be honest I’m lucky because all my cast were great apart from me. I was a frenzied wreck, my character a shallow representation of myself, a reflection of the hatred and loathing I felt. I digress…
We shot a lot of the film and got things sorted out over the next few days. Furious rewrites, frenzied cackling and madness commenced as I crafted the main lounge into many different sets and messed around with lenses. I got a few cutaways and eventually we had a film. I was a nervous wreck on the verge of a breakdown. My noble cast coped really well with me,
Editing was quiet. I didn’t know what to do. I just felt broken and betrayed by the people who had promised to help me. The ones who showed up… They made it worthwhile. Megan. Zach, Simon and Shaun, thank you all. You helped me through this absolute hell. You are all amazing people and I love you to bits.
Music was odd, I didn’t score like normal. I think I put every bit of rage, frustration and pain into the Dreamscape score, it was orchestral, with weird pitch bending occasionally. I don’t know where it came from but the talents seem to be lost to me now. You can listen to the entire score below. Let me know in the comments what you think and I’ll try and get back to you.
Zach, being a long time collaborator on my projects continues to work with me occasionally making awesome and weird things here and there. He is in my short film I’ve made for Infinitrap.
Shaun came back and did some extra work with me, where I dressed up as Zach wearing a welding mask to kill him.
I’ve lost contact with both Simon and Megan, however both of them are fine people, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Maybe it’s the distance, maybe it’s the fact they were working with the definition of sheer frenzied insanity, we will never know…
What did I learn?
- Making films isn’t easy.
- You can’t always rely on other people.
- Sometimes you have real friends when you need them.
- You don’t need a good camera to make a film people will enjoy.
- ******* Is a pain in the neck.
- Don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned.
- A rewrite can be good if you are desperate.
- Don’t give up.
Don’t give up. That’s a good one to remember if you’re making films. I have abandoned 3 or 4 big projects because they seemed like an impossible mountain to climb.
Dreamscape originally did well on YouTube and got over 5300 views before I took it down so I could reupload. The film people abandoned me for only got just over 30 and was removed quickly due to music copyright violations.
Two of my actors found out I loved rubber ducks.
The spaceship was made of a lightbulb spray paint and toilet tissue and is without doubt one of the cheapest things I’ve ever made. And it looks like it.
I hated the film for years until I realised it’s actually good.
I am a mild mannered space adventurer from a place very far beyond this world. One day, I hope to return home, until then I come in peace, please don’t dissect me!