Did you know that phone conversations which take place in movies and television never (or aren’t supposed to) end with “bye-bye”? Do you know the meaning of the phrase “check the gate” and why directors often say it after “cut” and “print”? Brian Dalton addresses these two questions and points out a variety of have-you-ever-noticed-thats regarding filmmaking in his mockumentary “Killing the Dream: cinema verite this!”
Ken Chandler (Joel Spence) and John Colburt (Drew Droege) want to make a science-fiction movie about time travel…fifteen minutes into the future. Ken and John cannot afford to pay anyone, so they enlist the help of neighbors Amy (Amy Rohren) and Jarom Lomberg (Evan Andes), a nondenominational pastor friend Trevor Jenkins (Christopher Cowan), Blake Damon (Mike Shapiro), a guy who really loves ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’, and someone with “real” acting experience, David Steel (Sean Douglas).
“Killing the Dream” pokes fun at filmmaking as an industry, a process, and a hobby that can be taken to extreme levels of devotion. Ken and John decide to make a film because they thought it’d be cool to do so, and because they own a lot of DVDs. Due to a very, very small budget, Ken and John have to cast people who consider themselves actors just because they’ve been in plays at church or they really love watching films. Ken and John only hire a “professional” actor to give their sci-fi picture some credibility.
The film’s tone isn’t light-hearted, but like the various parodies that Christopher Guest has made (“Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” and “A Mighty Wind”), the humor is imbedded in how seriously the characters take it. Director Dalton presents and cracks jokes about filmmaking in reference to how knowledgeable some people think they are about it simply from observation or by being an enthusiast. “Killing the Dream” brings up issues of creative control, how to finish a film without a cast, the reluctance from some actresses to do kissing scenes (metaphor for sex scenes), and actors’ rights.
Dalton’s film is entirely fictional but breathes so realistically that you’re likely to wonder if David Steel is a real actor or if there are Christian soap operas such as ‘One Afterlife to Live’. Superbly scripted and directed, and with fantastic performances from its cast, “Killing the Dream” suggests that when it comes to making a film, reading all the how-to-books on filmmaking won’t cut it. Only hands-on experience provides one with true knowledge.