“I wrote this film as therapy,” director Brett Haley said of “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” his alternately sweet and bittersweet indie film starring Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott.
“It wasn’t, ‘I’m going to make a movie about older people. I was thinking about life and loss. Life at any time can be sad and that can be difficult. I didn’t think a movie about young people dealing with loss had as much weight.”
Stick with me, here. This movie is no downer.
“Dreams,” which was screened at the Atlanta Film Festival before opening in theaters, concerns Carol (Danner), who is content to fill her golden years with her cackling girlfriends and assiduous upkeep of her pool, when handsome, smooth-talking Bill crosses her path in the grocery store aisle.
Filmed in Los Angeles over 18 days for “well under $1 million,” the movie approaches issues we’ll all face eventually with sensitivity and humor. Danner and Elliott have some of the best on-screen chemistry you could ever hope to see in a film of any size.
“I got them a little drunk,” Haley confessed, discussing one particularly delightful restaurant scene. “That was a fun day.”
Here’s another clip:
Haley is a Pensacola, Fla. native and N.C. School of the Arts alum now living in New York.
He fits in work as videographer amid his movie projects including “The New Year” and “The Ridge.” When we discussed “Dreams” during his recent time in town for the Atlanta Film Festival, he had a few other film festival stops on his calendar.
“I’m a storyteller,” he said. “I don’t know what else to do.”
When “Dreams” didn’t initially attract funding through conventional means, Haley turned to the public for support, raising necessary dollars through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
“We were getting rejected left and right from production companies,” said Haley, who co-wrote the movie with Marc Basch. “I was really fed up. People couldn’t see the marketability.”
Haley didn’t let Hollywood’s preference for comic book adaptations, computer-generated explosions, blockbuster series and reboots quell his spirit, though.
“For me it was not taking no for an answer,” he said.
His reward: working with actors he admires.
“Blythe has this ability to be so uniquely real,” he said. “She brought a lot of herself to the role.”
He doesn’t disguise his man-crush on Sam Elliott.
“He is as amazing as you would think,” Haley said. “He’s the man every wants to be and every woman and gay man wants to be with. Everyone on the set had a crush on him! It was great to see him be a version of himself in this movie. He has so much innate charm.”
As does “I’ll See You In My Dreams.”