Dreams My Master: The Journey

Unless the feed algorithm of whatever social media you use was merciful enough to hide all of my recent posts, you've probably noticed that I shot my second short film and am currently doing a crowdfunding campaign for it (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1850053528/dreams-my-master).

I'll use this blog as a companion piece to walk through the development of the project, from start to finish. It was an interesting journey - is, really, we're not done yet, and it's entertaining enough to share.

We'll begin with the first stage, getting the script together.

You can read about it, or you can listen to my talented wife interview me about it: 

Before Dreams My Master

You may be familiar with my previous work, Appreciation. It was my first real short. I've done little film things here and there before, including a little late-night experiment I randomly did with a friend on a whim back in 2000 that ended up getting screened at a film festival, but nothing that involved actually directing actors and having a real set with a professional crew.

Karim Mahmud and Malynda Hale in "Appreciation"
Quite a few people pointed out that Appreciation hits close to home. Married couple. Guy works a lot. Well yeah, surprise. I'm not a professional writer, so I'm picking topics I can relate to. That simplifies the writing process a lot.

Writing the screenplay

So Dreams My Master was in similarly familiar territory - two father/son stories. Being the negative bastard that I am, I was looking for some of the worst things that could happen. And as a father, that would be the thought of your kids not getting the life you want them to have. Parents usually have a very rigid idea of what their kids' lives should be like, and any deviation from that is a huge disappointment. Nothing else comes close to this, even personal failures aren't as bad - after all, your kids are meant to be your successors in the world, a version 2.0 of yourself, so even if you don't take the medal home, you want your kids to.

Rico E. Anderson in "Dreams My Master"
Some parents take this to an extreme, and even a child that chooses a different religion, political party, or sexual orientation is written off as a failure.

I don't remember how long it took to write - I usually write in bursts. I have an idea and it just flows, usually several pages at a time. Then, nothing for a long time.

After having a draft that I wasn't too embarrassed about, I started consulting a few close friends and got their opinions. That's where I got some of the most invaluable advice and fresh perspectives.

Getting the project rolling

It was April 2015 when I contacted Daniel Pico, who produced Appreciation, and sent him the screenplay. He was intrigued enough to go for it, and he also made a huge contribution - he offered a replacement for my crappy working title and suggested "Dreams My Master".

The title is taken from a poem called "If-" written by Rudyard Kipling of Jungle Book fame and published in 1910. It's about a father talking to his son about what it takes to be a man. It's a very powerful poem, full of this stoicism of the Victorian Era, and it fits perfectly. The full line is
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master.
And with that, preproduction began. We'll discuss that in detail in the next post.

For now, please visit the Kickstarter page - your help in getting this funded is appreciated! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1850053528/dreams-my-master