Interview with Filmmaker Avery Rouda (DREAM CATCHER)

DREAM CATCHER played to rave reviews at the November 2020 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When I wrote this script, I was still in film school – studying the art of filmmaking, while harboring aspirations of working as a professional filmmaker in the industry. So I had all these high hopes, or big dreams, for myself and when I was prompted, for a screenwriting class, to come up with a short film idea, I felt incredibly motivated to come up with something that really challenged and inspired me to unearth new dimensions of my screenwriting craft. That meant facing those fears I had of following my dreams.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I had the impulse to start writing the script one day at work – I was, at the time, interning at Verve Talent and Literary Agency while finishing my undergrad at Chapman. A huge chunk of my day was reading scripts and analyzing them for the agents. I saw Dream Catcher as a Pixar-style 3D animated short. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find (let alone finance) freelancing 3D animators. Since I was a writer, and NOT an animator, I really didn’t know where to start. Time went by and close friends and family who had read the script kept asking me about my plans for it. Finally, the stars aligned and a producer, who I knew through my writing partner at the time, helped me form a plan. We reached out to a couple different animators though the freelance portal called Fiver and, as luck would have it, we got connected to a brilliant animator in Italy – the Snap to my Sort, Andrea Cavuoto. Andrea read the script and fell in love with it. As it happens, he had been animating commercials, but had dreams of his own to start working on more animated narrative films. And so, the Dream Team was assembled! The final process was really so streamlined because I was able to quickly bring aboard a talented cast and crew to help me achieve the final vision for the film. We did it all in less than a year – roughly 8 months!

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Dream Catcher? Ha! How about:

Following Dreams

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacle we faced, which every indie filmmaker can relate to, and which we ultimately overcame by making strategic decisions, was the budget.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

At first I was afraid there was going to be a lot of constructive criticism (because the industry kind of prepares you for that by asking you to be your own toughest critic) but I was so overjoyed and amazed to listen to the feedback! The reviews weren’t focused on what we could have done better (of which there are numerous things, trust me!), but rather focused on highlighting all the things we did right. Realizing those choices we made landed with viewers – the layers of the film and the deeper meaning in the story – and how the audience understood the full circle way it all comes together, like an intricately woven dreamcatcher experienced through the lens of a child’s imagination, was truly a gift.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Well, the concept for Dream Catcher hit me one afternoon while I was laying on my bed staring at the dreamcatcher that hung on my wall. See, this particular dreamcatcher was handmade by a very creative friend of mine and gifted to me on my birthday. So I had grown quite fond of it, if not entranced by it! And I think that feeling itself was the impetus to dream about it as an animated short. While staring into the web, I was quite suddenly transported into the mechanism of it all – the connective tissue of the tangled strings, the colorful feathers which served as a kind of ethereal bridge between worlds. Thus, the story came to mind, born on the heels of the very thing a dreamcatcher represents – a protector for children against the darkness of the night.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Waking Life by Richard Linklater

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s great. So user-friendly and informative. The resources available to filmmakers on FilmFreeway are all-encompassing. I love it!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

10. What is next for you? A new film?

The future holds so many unknowns, but I can promise you this: I will continue telling stories that shift and uplift human consciousness. The next step for me is an animated feature film!

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