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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #60: Brett Haley Had No Room for Error During the Filming of ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #60: Brett Haley Had No Room for Error During the Filming of 'I'll See You in My Dreams'

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” follows Carol, a retired schoolteacher and a longtime widow in her 70s. She enjoys a tranquil routine playing cards with close friends, keeping up her garden, and relaxing with a glass of wine. When her beloved dog dies, there’s a mournful vacuum that draws new experiences and attachments into her world. She forges a friendship with her pool guy and allows a pal to drag her to a speed dating shindig. And then there’s the gravelly-voiced, exuberant gentleman, Bill, who comes out of nowhere. After not dating for 20 years, Carol finds herself thrown back into that world after a sudden loss. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Institute.]

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

A sudden loss disrupts 70 year old Carol’s life, propelling her into the dating world for the first time in 20 years.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about a woman who is forced to challenge her assumptions about what it means to grow old. It’s about facing your own fears about love, family, aging and death. There is a great quote that captures the spirit of the film by Bonnie Prudden, who was an expert rock climber and mountaineer. She said, “You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.”

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I live in Brooklyn. I grew up in Key West and Pensacola, Florida. I studied directing at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I used to work for the great John Hillcoat. I made my first feature, “The New Year,” for $5,000.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

I shot the film in 18 days, all on location. So I’d say it was a mix of lack of time to do what I needed to do and constant noise (planes and various yard work, mostly) ruining takes. There was no room for error or indecision. Luckily, I had an amazing cast and crew that really helped make things happen when they needed to.

What do you want Sundance audience to take away from your film?

I hope they laugh, I hope they cry. I want them to be entertained while also feeling like the movie gave them something to think about and resonate on long after the credits have rolled.

Any films inspire you?

“Beginners,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Lost in Translation,” “The Station Agent,” “Harry and Tonto” and “Five Easy Pieces” were big ones for this film. Cassavetes, Ozu and Jacques Audiard are always huge inspirations for me, personally. For my money, Audiard’s “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” is one of my all time favorites because it manages to be dark, funny, suspenseful, romantic, sexy, violent and moving all at once. I want my films to have that kind of affect.

What’s next?

I write a lot so I have a lot of options! I just finished a new screenplay with my co-writer on “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” Marc Basch. It’s a romantic comedy that takes place in the Napa Valley and is about a woman in her mid-40s who unexpectedly falls in love. I also have an edge of your seat thriller based on a Jim Shepard novel and a cop action/drama based on my father’s time as a police officer in central Illinois in the 1970s.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Sony F-55.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform.

Yes! Kickstarter. You’ll see the long list of amazing supporters in our credits.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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