Dreams My Master: Preproduction

This is part two of the story about how Dreams My Master came to be. Click here for part 1.

Again, you have the choice to hear this as an interview here:


It's now April 2015. I have a script that I feel will work, I have Daniel Pico on board who also produced my previous short. Preproduction involves a lot of ground work - tons of paperwork, tons of location scouting, etc. Dreams My Master was a lot more involved than Appreciation - it has scenes in two homes, in a theme park, in a public park, and more.

I also decided that I want to shoot in Los Angeles - that's where all the cast and crew is, and I didn't want to make them come down to San Diego and stay in a hotel like last time, I figured they'd be a lot happier if they can go home at the end of each day. That of course meant that it was up to Daniel to find locations.

We had Maris Lidaka join in as co-producer, he was 2nd AD on Appreciation and happened to be planning his own short, Control, at the same time. We decided to join forces and shoot both shorts back-to-back, with the same rental equipment (so we pay for it only once), and the same crew. That was financially and logistically a relief, but also a huge burden on Daniel and Maris, who were at this point planning two completely separate productions at the same time.

The two of them kept sending me pictures of various locations they found. We tried to keep everything within the same region, but in the end had locations all over greater Los Angeles - Canoga Park, Burbank, downtown, and more.

I realized quickly though that shooting in Los Angeles has a big downside - it's a lot more expensive. We shot Appreciation in my own home. In LA, a home like that would have cost several thousand dollars per day to shoot in. Plus the permits on top. Since we shot in different cities, we had to get separate permits. It was only thanks to Daniel's negotiation skills that we were able to find affordable places.

Daniel and Maris secured a great park in Burbank as a location

Then it came to my favorite part: Casting. We had six roles to fill this time (plus 4 more for Control), so we decided to hire a casting director. We were able to work with M'saada Nia, who has done a lot work in this field, including being casting assistant in Ava DuVernay's Selma.

She was asking for reference pictures and the names of some A-listers who we'd pick if we had unlimited funds. For the adults, I picked Ernie Hudson for Ernie (that matching first name was purely coincidental) - I wanted a big guy, but not somebody who's too nice - I mentioned Wendell Pierce as an example for "big but nice".

Rico E. Anderson got the role of Ernie
The other dad was somebody like American Beauty's Chris Cooper, or maybe Russell Crowe or Gerard Butler. It kind of struck me that I have been watching a lot fewer movies since I had kids. Most of my references were from the 90s and early 2000s.

Chris Gann as John - he could have easily played Col. Fitts in American Beauty
For the kids, I had Brandon Hammond anno 1993 (I haven't really seen him in anything since '97), and Tristan Wilds (back in the early 2000s).

For the kids, we chose Charles Windle Greer IV and Issac Brown.
And then, River Phoenix (ahem... mid 90s).... and Corey Haim (okay, no comment).

Tyler Ross and Jentzen Ramirez were our picks for Aaron and Lucas.
M'saada spent three days just doing auditions. After that, she picked the really good ones and paired up adults and kids that the thought would work well together and did callbacks - that's where I was on site as well. We spent two more days doing callbacks, merely 5 days from when we were going to shoot the film! We had callbacks on July 25 and July 26 - the first day of shooting was August 1.

Don't worry, there's plenty more. Part 3 is coming soon.

As always, please check out the Kickstarter - you can be part of this story too! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1850053528/dreams-my-master


AnthonyB said…
The cinematography looks awesome I'm so excited.