Goblin March Sea Dream

I forget which filmmaker it was (maybe Lester?) who, after he retired, was awoken one night from a horrible dream. (No, I just this instant remembered — it was William Wyler.) Mrs. Director, lying alongside, asked what was the matter. “Oh, I just had the most terrible dream. I dreamed I was directing a picture.”

Punk Elephants on Parade

I had that this morning, in my last hour of sleep. Fiona had gotten up and gone to work, I had fallen asleep again, and I dreamed I was on a beach, directing an epic based on something loosely derived from Tolkein. Probably it was “inspired” by a couple of pages from The Silmarilion (wait and see, once they’ve finished gargantuanizing The Hobbit, this WILL happen).

I had an army of orcs at my disposal, and they were engaged in a forced march to the accompaniment of drum-beats and a Volga Boatmen type choral arrangement, on playback. There were also boats in the sea, a big galleon and some smaller model ships behind it. The FX team showed me a large-ish model ship they had available, which might bulk out the fleet usefully: “It’s actually the Titanic,” they explained apologetically, “but if you put it far back enough…” I shrugged, “Sure. What the hell.”

And as the orcs slogged past (“Too slow,” argued the producer) I realised I didn’t even know where they were supposed to be going. I looked around for my 1st A.D., eventually found her, asked for a copy of the script. She handed me a folder full of CRAP, strange schematics and incomprehensible call sheets, plus a few thin pages of screenplay scattered amongst the bumf. When I looked up from this, none the wiser, I found a vast PETROL STATION had been erected.

“Isn’t it great?” asked the producer. I spluttered and fizzed incoherently. “Not for THIS scene, I know,” he explains. “For that LATER scene. I just wanted to show you. I can have it all taken away in five minutes.”

The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters

Awoke feeling incredibly groggy and reflecting on the irony that filmmaking is nothing but stress while you’re doing it, and I spend all my time wishing I was doing it. And I don’t particularly LIKE stress, mind you.

“Ordinary people spend their life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.” ~ REPO MAN, Alex Cox.


19 Responses to “Goblin March Sea Dream”

  1. That was interesting! And very recognisable! I realised it when doing my very first film. It was scary and stressful, generally terrible in all possible ways and non of it was remotely enjoyable while we were making it. But it did not really surprise me then since I am used to making myself do things I hate all the time. But so it is a typical director experience, it seems. In that case I am truly proud to be part of the group.
    How strange though… what does it mean I ask you?
    …And can you imagine the finished film that you were making in your dream? I’d watch it.

  2. Goblins on the Titanic, I’m loving it.

  3. i don’t want to win the film of my dreams, i want to win the film of your dream

    ps, i am sure you will pick a good film

  4. dcairns Says:

    I love the idea that the petrol station fits in LATER.

    Marianne in 4th year is stressing about her grad film just now, and Nigel (the producer in my nightmare!) says she reminds him of me — she LOOKS very relaxed, but inside she’s fraught as hell. I think the secret is bad posture. If you slouch you seem laid-back. Not a bad system.

  5. dcairns Says:

    Alex: I recommend Blonde Crazy with Jimmy Cagney and Joan Blondell. The 30s is the most dreamlike decade.

    Fellini’s Eight and a Half captures the angst quite well — a film has to gather momentum to the point that it will carry on on its own, but once that happens it becomes quite anxiety-provoking because you know you can’t make it stop…

  6. well, being stressed out about it is logical, but why do we still think afterwards that it was a good idea? Filmmaking is genially A TERRIBLE IDEA! And yet we seem to forget that a lot.

  7. There was such a long gap in my work before Cry For Bobo that some people I knew at the time had never known me to make a film. They all remarked how happy I seemed as the shoot approached, so I guess there must be some pleasure in it. But all I was aware of was stress and terror!

  8. Fellini’s highly underate City of Women goes much further than 8 1/2 in regard to dreams. The whole film is a dream. This would have been the hook for the never-made Il Viaggio di G. Mastorno save for the fact that the hero thinks he’s dreaming only to realize at the end that he’s entered the “afterlife.”

    Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and his highly underrated The Adventures of Baron Munchausen are likewise dream films.

  9. Spare a thought for the poor Producer, who has brought the whole thing about and then has to hand it off to some idiot Director and then NOT interfere. All the worry and pain of making babies without the sex part or the actual baby.

  10. Yeah, I can’t think of many films about the plight of the poor producer…which may be the best evidence for the auteur theory!

    Only exceptionally nice producers actually resist interfering. But even Fritz Lang admitted they can HELP.

    The night before shooting the big climax of Cry For Bobo I dreamt we were in the location but we were getting chucked out in ten minutes and we still had a dozen shots to do. As a bog-standard anxiety dream it was so boring it woke me up.

  11. Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. is entirely about the plight of a producer.

  12. i had a terrific anxiety dream where orson welles emerged from my toilet bowl and daubed advice on my bathroom wall in blood, faeces, and blue disinfectant

  13. hmmmm I dreamed last night that I had a hole in my back and could reach behind me to grab my own spine, that was a bit stressful as well.

    But since we are pitying Directors and Producers, how about the poor Writers?
    -That’s more like planning what kind of sex to have and then letting someone else have it while they laugh into your face and … oh this is getting weird now…

  14. Sunset Boulevard is maybe my favourite screenwriter film.

    Am still trying to work out whether Orson’s bathroom advice would be worth following.

  15. S.O.B. is one dark, dark film… would love to see it again. I think it depressed me for a week the first time. But so did Britannia Hospital and I love it now.

  16. I had quite a different reaction. I went to the press screening with Rafe Blasi, a now log-departed film fan and publicity legend. We were both rolling over in gales of laughter as we knew all of the people and Hollywood stroes Edwards was parodying in the film. Some of the dialogue was direct quotes — liie the character based on Robert Evans claiming that he reallyy knows how to cut movies.

    In New York Rafe started the quasi-legendary New York Film Bulletin — a little mag of the 60’s back when we all cared too damned much about Jean-Luc Godard. Later he got a job as publicist at 20th Century-Fox during the era described so well by John Gregory Dunne in The Studio. Fox was having trouble with Star! in early previews and the powers-that-were felt a new title was in order. So they had a briandstorming session and during a lull Rafe opined “I’m sorry but the only title that really fits is Bitch of Broadway.”

    Sadly Fox didn’t use it.

  17. It’s a striking memory in my head because even though I thought I hated the film for its sheer negativity, lines from it remain welded onto my consciousness. “Liv Ullman? Are you SURE???”
    My friend David Wingrove saw it, I think in Ireland, with an obviously unprepared audience of Sound of Music fans who just about vaporized in shock when Julie A follows in Liv’s footsteps.

  18. The Ross Hunter-produced, Liv Ullman-starred musical version of Los Horizon (with songs by Burt Bacaharach and Hal David) was scripted by Larry Kramer.

    Yes, THAT Larry Kramer. Ross Hunter paid Larry so much money he was able to buy the condo in which he’s resisded ever since at One Fifth Ave AND found ACT-UP. So the fight against AIDS was jump-started by one of the worst movie musicals of all-time.

  19. I’m glad something positive came out of Lost Horizon!

    As Michael Caine said, “People tell me that Jaws: The Revenge was a terrible film, and I say ‘Yes, but it paid for a very nice house!'” (For his old mum.)

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