Dreams My Master: Complications

Welcome to part 3 of the journey behind Dreams My Master. Please be sure to begin with part 1.

Audio, if that's your thing:

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Let's talk some more about the casting process. As I mentioned, casting is my favorite part - that's when the story comes to life for the first time. Until that point, you only see your script, read it in your head, show it to friends, but in the end, it's just words.

Auditions turn this into a completely different experience - you see one talented actor after another, each one taking your words and making them come alive. You see them analyze the lines you wrote word by word, looking for the meaning behind them and finding ways to express them with a certain intonation and gestures. I remember experiencing this in Appreciation and being blown away. That's also where I got my first sense of how much actors really put into their craft - one actress started crying - real tears and all - during her audition for Appreciation for the scene because she felt it was needed. I found a new level of admiration for actors at that point.

This is also when I got an idea of what doesn't work. Not much - the actors typically make it work - but I made a few adjustments after the auditions. It was also interesting to see so many different ways in which certain scenes were played out. Ways that you didn't even think of.

Some kids brought a lot more sass for some characters than I originally planned. Issac in particular was a lot more headstrong than I originally envisioned his character to be. He even jokingly bossed his mother around after we were done with the audition. It ended up fitting well, so I went with that when we actually shot the film.

Issac and Charles in a scene from Dreams My Master

Everything was down to the wire - we didn't have all the locations secured yet a week before the shoot. The trickiest one was the theme park. We initially had Magic Mountain express interest, and they even quoted us a fee, but once they saw the screenplay, they politely declined.

That was a recurring problem: A lot of actors bowed out once they saw the screenplay, which we provided up front. Dreams My Master has a few intense moments, and some parents felt uncomfortable about having their kids in a father/son story that has some strong scenes.

I had a lengthy discussion with M'saada about this, she urged me to tone down those scenes in order to attract more talent, but being the hard-headed schmuck that I am, I refused. In the end, we did find actors who were willing to go down the rabbit hole, and they all ended up being extremely capable.

That didn't solve the problem with the theme park - with less than a week before the shoot, we still didn't know where to go! We desperately considered our options here: Reschedule the shoot, whch meant finding new dates that work for all the 6 actors and 20+ crew members who were already onboard, or shoot everything with green screen and then shoot the plates for that later somehow... or keep looking. I was strongly considering green screen, but also felt nervous about it - I prefer practical solutions so you know right away what it looks like. Green screen is a mystery, you won't know whether or not it works until much later, and it makes it harder for actors to get into the scene.

Daniel finally found a small place in Ontario (way east outside Los Angeles), they were happy to have us and didn't even bother to ask for a screenplay. They had everything we needed - an arcade, a roller coaster, so we hastily booked it.

The arcade inside the theme park in Ontario
There's a lot more, stay tuned for part 4. In the meantime, please head over to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1850053528/dreams-my-master