Once we stopped rolling on the burning chair in our backyard, I knew we were done with principal photography on our next short "Perchance to Dream". The strange part was, it didn't remotely feel like it. At the end of every production I had ever been a part of since Gantry was founded in 2006, I have felt exhausted, spent and ready for a weekend of relaxation. At the outset of pre-production on PTD, I set out to accomplish two things: 1) work with all new actors and 2) to have the smoothest, chillest production ever. I clearly accomplished goal #1, which was wonderful, but it was goal #1 that really made the production and will pay off enormously in the finished film.
I seriously struck gold with my three actresses. Jamie Donnelley, who plays the older 'Isabel', was so giving, brave and an absolute delight to work with. I had done the color correction on a short film a few years back called "Home"; produced by our friends at Filament Features, that Jamie had starred in. I was so moved by her performance in that film. When I read the role of older 'Isabel' in Charlotte Zang's original short story, she was the first person to materialize in my mind. I was so lucky with the fortuitous timing of our production, as Jamie was set to move back to New York a mere four days after her shoot day. Everyone on set was so moved by her performance in the pivotal opening scene of the film.
During our auditions, we met a vast array of wonderful actresses, many of which were so capable of playing the roles of 'Meredith' and our lead (the young) 'Isabel'. However, two actresses stood out in such an extraordinary way, that I couldn't keep my mind off them. Ioanna Meli, who plays our
'Meredith', has such a rare talent for communicating so much with so little. It's the thing that I appreciate most from the best actors in the world; 'behind the eyes', and she has it! I loved working with her and I hope it's just the first of more films to come.
Then there is Lauren Elyse Buckley. I'm not sure where to start with this brilliant young talent. Meeting Lauren, in person, is such a burst of bright, youthful energy and unbelievable positivity that you kind of want to just carry her around with you all day. When she walked in to audition; ready to read for both roles, I didn't think for a moment that she would be a choice to play a character with such 'age', history and depth as 'Isabel'. I have never been more wrong. After her initial read for Isabel and her subsequent adjustment based off of my direction, I was re-thinking everything I had previously thought regarding this character. I was floored by her chameleon-like change, as was the rest of the Gantry Productions team. I, not only had the pleasure of directing Lauren, but was also lucky enough to act with her, as I was playing her long past love/husband, John. It was exhilarating 'dancing' with her on-screen, so present and so truthful. Off-screen, Lauren is one of the most lovely people I have met in the many years. Game over!
All of these wonderful actors would never be able to achieve their full potential on-screen if it weren't for a brilliant and technically proficient team behind the scenes. Lucky for all of us, I had the best production team I've worked with since the inception of Gantry Productions. It all starts with my very frequent collaborator and our DP/Co-Producer Sergio Crego. Sergio has done everything from being our on-set still photographer, our key-grip and our DP. Sergio took another step this year by becoming the co-producer of "Perchance to Dream". In whatever role Sergio is in, he has been the most professional, the quickest (while always under control) and the most pleasant artist I have worked with. It's uncanny how quickly Sergio works, while always executing to precision what he's looking to achieve.
Sergio brought with him two crew members I had yet to work with; Gaffer James Wilson and 1st AC Oliver Lewis. Here's one thing we all know, if Sergio recommends someone, you can be guaranteed that you'll be working with first-rate talent and this was no exception. James and Oliver were reflections of who Sergio is, professional, knowledgable, through and also kind.
Rounding out our technical crew was the uniquely talented and hilarious Matt Stauter as our Sound Recordist. He is extremely skilled and professional in his realm, first and foremost. Now, 'Hilarious' isn't usually the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Sound, but Matt is so ridiculously funny that it deserves special mention. Thankfully, he has put his outlandish humor to good use in the web series "Schmotts", created by him and Gantry Member (and best friend) Kyle Kenyon. I highly recommend going to Vimeo and watching this series!
The last person I will mention is our Production Designer, Costume Designer, Author of the original Shot Story and my wife Charlotte Zang. Charlotte prefers to stay far behind the scenes and probably won't be happy I'm even mentioning her, as modest as she is. But, her contribution is Himalayan! The Production Design and Costumes for this film are simple and sparse in the sense that neither will jump out at you, but they are very specific and precise. What I love about Charlotte's design is that she would never put the design above or outside of the needs of the film and what the story calls for. She's true to the story before anything else, which is what one might expect from an author of novels and short stories.
I admit, I'm almost making myself a little bit ill by going on and on with my overwhelming accolades and compliments to our cast and crew, but trust me, if it weren't 100% true, I wouldn't say it. This production was an absolute dream to work on and be a part of, from pre-production, to working with the cast and crew on-set, directing and having a too rare opportunity to act on-camera. An enormous thanks to the entire team! Much love for all.