Finding an American film with a female protagonist in her 70s is a rarity these days. Now, discovering an American film with a female protagonist in her 70s in a relationship with a much younger man -- that's essentially unheard of. Yet, as I run my Kickstarter campaign, that's exactly what I discovered in one of my neighbors, I'll See You In My Dreams. After watching the pitch video and backing the project, I reached out to co-writer and director Brett Haley to learn more about his inspiration for the story, how attached actors Blythe Danner and Martin Starr have affected the script, and what he learned about his story after interviewing people in their golden years for his Kickstarter pitch video.
First, check out Brett's Kickstarter pitch video. He and Martin Starr take a fresh approach to their pitch by interviewing real people in their golden years to see what they can learn about the story they are about to tell in Brett's film I'll See You In My Dreams. It's worth your five minutes to hear some of their frank answers.
CB: Give us the logline for I'll See You In My Dreams.
Brett Haley: I'll See You In My Dreams is about Carol, a widow in her early 70s, who is struggling to find purpose in her increasingly isolated life. After the death of her dog shakes up her routine, she decides to start dating again and begins two relationships with two very different men.
CB: I'm personally fascinated by stories that explore relationships across generations, but we rarely see these stories in films -- at least, not when the woman is several decades older than the man. So, could you tell us a little more about this particular story and what compelled you to write it?
BH: I think a lot about death and the "meaning of life" and "why we're here" -- you know, the BIG questions. I wanted to write a movie that addressed these questions in an approachable, human, honest way. I wanted to do it through a vessel that made sense. To me, that vessel was an older person who became the character of Carol. She's someone who's lived a lot of life and is, essentially, in her "last chapter" looking back on her life and wondering, "What the hell happened?" and "How did I get here?" To add to this, I came up with a character in his early 30s, who also thinks he's lost his purpose in this world, and had him become friends with Carol. I think, if given the opportunity, friendships between younger and older people are great ones. It's unfortunate but, in our society, it rarely happens. I wanted to see that friendship on the screen.
BH: They simply read the script, met with me, and jumped on board. My co-writer, Marc Basch, and I have been rewriting ever since - because that's writing! Blythe and Martin have been very respectful of the script, but I'm very open to their thoughts on their characters, so some of that has been incorporated. We've also slightly rewritten certain things knowing that Martin will be saying it, for example. That's a lot of fun to do.
CB: In your Kickstarter pitch video, you and Martin set out to interview several people in their golden years to see if you were on the right track with your story. So, were you on the right track? Or have the interviews led to rewrites?
BH: I think we were! The interviews were really insightful, though. I learned a lot talking to these awesome people and I've definitely gone back in to the script and added some nuggets of wisdom from them.
CB: What is your current timeline for the project, and what will your Kickstarter campaign allow you to accomplish?
BH: We're planning to shoot in March in Los Angeles. The Kickstarter campaign money is going directly to the production budget. We plan on putting every penny of that money on the screen.
Thanks to Brett Haley for taking time out of his busy Kickstarter campaign to answer my questions via email.
What do you think about the story behind Brett's film I'll See You In My Dreams? Do you seek out films that focus on relationships we rarely see on-screen, like a woman in her 70s with a man in his 30s, for example? Share your thoughts in the comments.