I’m very excited to be able to share this with you guys today. I was browsing YouTube when I came across a short film. It was called ‘Anamnesis’ and it’s about Lucid Dreaming.
Long story short, I was very impressed. Here’s the film if you haven’t already seen it.. WATCH IT FIRST because in the interview I ask questions that may reveal parts of the short film. (Don’t worry, nothing is revealed about the web series).
So after watching that I noticed a trailer in the sidebar for an upcoming web series on Lucid Dreaming inspired by the short film; Anamnesis.
The trailer looked amazing.. So I contacted the team that made Anamnesis possible and asked for an email interview! I Had a few questions and wanted to help them out by promoting this web series. Before I show you the interview, watch this short trailer for the web series..
And without further delay, here’s the interview!
All answers are from Alex Calleros and Michael Tucker (we note who said what at the end of each response). Alex Calleros wrote and directed the short film. Michael Tucker co-wrote and co-directed the webseries with Alex.
Firstly, what a great idea! What inspired you to do something like this.. Was it inspired by other films; Inception, Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind etc..?
Anamnesis, the short film, definitely drew inspiration from the two films you mentioned—Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
They’re two very different examples of how cinema can portray the world of the dream. Inception was a particularly solid-feeling dream world with a lot of “rules,” while Eternal Sunshine had a much more spontaneous, free-association nature to it.
With Anamnesis (both the short film and the web series), we wanted to find our own middle ground between those two extremes. What I think sets the web series apart from other films about dreaming is its dedication to representing the practice of lucid dreaming in an accurate way.
People familiar with reality tests and dream signs may enjoy spotting some subtle touches hidden throughout the show. [Alex Calleros]
What is your experience with Lucid Dreaming (The whole team)?
Brad C. Wilcox, who plays Noah in the web series, had frequent lucid dreams for a period of his life. When confronted by an obstacle—a raging fire, for example—he would often snap into lucidity, realizing he could simply put it out by shooting water from his hands.
He said at some point he actually had to “cut back” on his lucid dreaming because he wasn’t feeling rested in the mornings after being so mentally active each night. [Alex Calleros]
Actor Zach Brown, who plays Sean, spent a lot of time researching and practicing lucid dreaming. Zach had a few lucid dreaming experiences, one of which heavily featured Whoopi Goldberg as his dream guide. For a time he even wrote the letter “A” on his palm every day as a reminder to ask himself “Am I Awake?” [Michael Tucker]
Michael and I both experienced striking lucid dreams during the process of writing and directing Anamnesis. The experiences definitely influenced some of the sound design for a scene in which Sean experiences a Wake-Induced Lucid Dream. [Alex Calleros]
In the short film, Adam is told a few times ‘You are who you’ve always been’. What does this reference? Is it hinting at a ‘divine oneness’ or something along those lines?
I’m going to give the classic director answer here, and say I’d like to leave that up to interpretation.
Another movie I drew a lot inspiration from while writing the short film was Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, which is a really beautiful meditation on death. I wanted the short film to touch on similar themes by focusing on the idea of identity—who are you, really?
Are you simply the sum end product of a collection of experiences and memories? Or is this thing we call “consciousness” something else entirely? It’s a question I’m very interested in. [Alex Calleros]
Is there an particular significance of the number ‘8121’ or does it just happen to be the number on the door of the room where Adam died?
In the context of the short film, it’s simply one fragment of data—of memory—seeping into his dream consciousness, reminding him of what just occurred in his waking life before entering the dream state. [Alex Calleros]
I loved how you included the detail of ‘liquid spilling’ in the short film. I assume it was meant to be a symbol of the ‘truth’ of Adams death seeping into his awareness? Was this idea at all inspired by Inception, Whereas the dreamer realizes he’s dreaming, the dream starts to collapse a little bit?
Once again, I can’t deny the influence Inception had on Anamnesis. I’d say it’s a little different than the “dream is collapsing” idea that occurs in Inception, in which a dream reacts quite literally to the physical motion of the dreamer in the real world (train shaking = dream world shaking).
The liquid motif in the short film really represents, as you say, the “truth” of Adam’s death seeping into his awareness. The word anamnesis can mean a few things, but one definition is simply “recollection”—specifically recollection of knowledge you once possessed, but forgot. In Platonic philosophy, it’s the remembering of things you knew in a previous existence (now we’re getting into ideas of reincarnation).
In the context of the short film, when the “liquid spilling” motif occurs, Adam is essentially experiencing a moment of anamnesis. He’s remembering something he already knew, but has repressed: he’s dying. The film is really about him coming to terms with that reality and saying goodbye to this identity called “Adam.” [Alex Calleros]
At the end of the short film, Hannah says to Adam (regarding Adam dying and leaving her as he did) ‘You were always going to’. What was the intended meaning of that? Was it hinting at some sort of ‘plan’ or divine ‘bigger picture’ of life?
I always think lines like these are more fun when left for the audience to interpret. I will say that you don’t need to have a divine plan to know that in one way or another, we are all going to leave each other eventually. We’re all going to die. It’s just a matter of when.
This need not be a depressing fact; it’s just how this whole life thing works. The more we make friends with this reality, and stop being in denial about it, the more we can actually enjoy our life while it’s happening. [Alex Calleros]
The soundtrack was beautiful. Will it be available to buy at all?
Right now the Anamnesis web series soundtrack, which brings back a lot of musical elements from the short film, is available to stream on Spotify. We’d love to get it on iTunes, and make Bryan Ricker’s beautiful score for the short film available as well—follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on that. [Alex Calleros]
What are your plans for the future with the web series and moving forward?
We finished the web series in 2013, and due to a number of complications we weren’t able to release it online until now. In the meantime, we’ve been developing and pursuing a number of new projects that we’re excited about and are currently our main focus. So right now there are no specific plans to continue the web series. That being said, if these episodes end up doing well and the demand is there, then who knows… [Michael Tucker]
How does Anamnesis (The short film and web series) compare to your other work? Has it been one of your favorites to work on?
Making the short film may be one of my favorite filmmaking experiences to date. It’s rare for things on a super low-budget production to go right even 50% of the time; often it feels like you’re barely managing from one near-catastrophe to the next. On Anamnesis though, the whole cast and crew hit a great groove, and more often than not it was a real joy collaborating both on set and in post-production.
It was of course a huge amount of seriously hard work, but everybody was 100% on board and really proud of what we were making together. It was one of those rare productions where it just all came together. It totally spoiled me and I have to remind myself that not every project is going to be as lovely an experience as making the Anamnesis short. [Alex Calleros]
Working on the web series was interesting because it had a lot of new challenges. Alex and I had co-written some things before, but it was the first time we’d ever co-directed. It was tricky to navigate at times, but I also felt it was a good learning experience because it forced us to go over every shot and every detail so that we could be on the same page. I’d say we agreed 80% of the time, but definitely had certain things that we felt strongly about and didn’t want to sacrifice.
Ultimately, through talking it out and trying to decide what made sense for the series I think we arrived at a tone and style that I wouldn’t even call a hybrid–but something new altogether that I don’t think we would have achieved had either of us directed it on our own. So for that reason It is definitely a standout project for me. [Michael Tucker]
Were there any significant problems with the production of the short film and web series? Complications or details that were hard to get right etc?
Like any production, there were a lot of problems and complications. Schedules were very difficult to pin down; because our budget was so low, much of the cast and crew were donating their time, which meant they were also working jobs while we were shooting. So finding blocks of time when everyone could shoot was a big challenge.
The other tricky part of the production was our locations. Finding the right locations (without blowing the whole budget) always takes time, and luckily some friends stepped up and really helped us out. For example, Daniel J. Clark, who did sound design on the series, essentially let us take over his apartment for a week so we could turn it into Vera’s place. And the actress who played Vera, Deborah Jensen, worked at a coffee shop called Café de Leche, and they were kind enough to let us shoot there overnight on a couple weekends.
The biggest location challenge, however, was shooting on the beach. A lot of the web series takes place on or near the beach, and we ended up using a combination of a beach in Santa Barbara and a beach in Oceanside to create that location.
We quickly learned how hard it is to film in that environment. There’s no power, so batteries have to be charged in the nearest power outlet—which was sometimes a 20-minute walk round-trip.
Sound is difficult because of the waves, or boats, or planes constantly going by. And finally there aren’t supposed to be other people on the beach, because in the story we wanted it to feel empty and isolated. So figuring out how to shoot in a way where we wouldn’t see strangers in the shots was very difficult, and in some cases required some post-production visual effect work.
Anything you’d like to add? (Any of the team)
Making the web series was the most ambitious project we’ve ever taken on, and we learned a huge amount producing these first 5 episodes. We’re so excited to finally share them with the world. There are a lot of mysteries raised in the web series—and a lot of clues hidden throughout the episodes—so we’re looking forward to watching how people react and how they interpret the show.
If my readers want to find out more about this and get updates, where should they go?
For news and updates they can follow us on our Facebook page, and on twitter @AnamnesisSeries. The five episodes will be released April 12th 2015 on our YouTube Channel. Subscribe to us on YouTube and you’ll be the first to know when they’re up!
My final thoughts
I think this is such a fantastic series, and Lucid Dreamers all over the world are going to love this. People are going to be anxiously waiting for more episodes and watching them again and again to discover small details they didn’t see the first time around. (I did that). If you’re interested in this please go to their social media channels and follow them, comment, like and share their stuff. It really would help them out!