Sony and Y&R's fourth annual "Dreams" program, screened in New York last month, took last year's emphasis on storytelling to a new level with a diverse group of films that were dominated by comedy. In the opening film, The Bet, directed by Brown Bag Films' Charles Stone III, two time-traveling buddies wager on the race of historical figures, now that technology allows them to see for themselves. It was an appropriate start to a night devoted to discovery and storytelling, and it set the tone for laughs to come.
The "Dreams" series, founded by former Y&R head of broadcast Ken Yagoda, seeks to demonstrate the benefits of high-definition video technology for the commercials production industry by inviting established directors to make short films in the format. Each year's films have a theme, and this time out it was "Flight."
"The quality of the work and the storytelling is all about the filmmaking process rather than just the technology," says Yagoda. "The program is meant to be entertaining, noncompetitive and a celebration of creativity." And while last year's offerings featured visual storytelling that showed off the technology, the 2005 bunch demonstrated the camera's versatility. For example, several films, including Stone's and Stylewar's, feature extensive effects work, and Park Pictures' Alison Maclean's film was built around a hidden-camera technique that made for a startlingly clear picture.
Some directors took the theme of flight literally: Hungry Man's Hank Perlman tells the hilarious story of a human cannonball and his wife; Smuggler's Stylewar creates a nostalgic air battle between toy airplanes; and Jeffery Plansker of Supply & Demand shows scenes of passengers singing an atonal song on an airplane. The theme of flight was most often interpreted as "escape," however, as in Harvest Films director Baker Smith's comedic Le Roi, which shows three escaped convicts shackled together. In 40 Love, by Partizan's Doug Nichol, a middle-aged tennis player tries to escape from a nightmare in which he is attacked alternately by tennis balls and images of an attractive woman on the next court. Maclean's Flight captures the reactions of unknowing actors as they were forced in various ways to flee an audition room. Gartner's James Gartner and RSA's Sam Bayer filmed touching dramas that dealt with themes of family and escape, while Jesse Dylan of Form takes an experimental look at an entire life in one day in Inside the Light. Though Yagoda was cryptic about his future involvement with Y&R on the program now that he no longer works at the agency, saying only, "I plan to continue 'Dreams' and expand upon it."