Interview with Filmmaker Caitlin Gray (REVERIE)

REVERIE was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the December 2021 ROMANCE & RELATIONSHIPS Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I started dreaming about making this film when I first heard Max Richter’s “Embers”. I immediately started to feel and envision the story as soon as I listened to the song. It moved me in such a specific and touching way, and I couldn’t imagine telling this particular story with anything other than that gorgeous piece of music. The story itself stems from my own personal relationship experience and it’s one I’ve been wanting to tell through the medium of film for many years. The silver lining of the pandemic is that it allowed me the time to actually make it.

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

The idea for this film has been marinating for several years. At first, I wanted to film it in Sydney, Australia with friends of mine from the Australian Ballet Company, but our busy schedules never allowed us to follow through with it during the brief periods I was there working. When I moved to Atlanta from New York City a few years ago, I met a young dancer who I instantly knew could pull it off the way I wanted and she agreed to perform in the film. I scouted the location and secured my cinematographer. Then Covid happened and everything was shelved. Hailey (Rose Walsh), my female lead, was actually the one who reached out to me one day and said, “So, when are we doing (the) Max Richter (piece)?”, and with that, I started to coordinate dates with my team. We shot the film across two mornings (about 6-10:30am) in late May 2021 and then my editor and I worked on piecing it together over the next months whenever he had availability. The film was officially finished in October 2021. So, from the first idea to finished product, I’d say it was about 7 or 8 years.

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

Love Is

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

We had no budget, but I was lucky to have people with me who were as passionate as I was about making the film and all of them are incredibly talented. There were literally only 4 of us: my two leads, myself and my cinematographer (plus 2 dedicated PAs who were interning with my cinematographer at the time). Small, but mighty haha. The biggest personal obstacle for me was that I was rear-ended at high speed on the highway 4 days after the shoot, and the accident left me with a concussion and herniated discs. I physically couldn’t look at any of the shots until my head injury healed a few weeks later, so we got a late jump on the editing process; but, I am extraordinarily thankful to be alive (and all healed up now!) with a completed film that is being showcased at your festival. Thank you so much for supporting us and this film.

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

It was so touching to hear all of them say how beautiful it was and that they felt like they were being taken on a journey through the film. They all felt the passion in the relationship and commented on the beauty of the surroundings coinciding with different aspects of the relationship. I thought that was a really cool insight. It was so lovely to hear them compliment the cinematography, editing, performances and choreography, as well. I’m so glad they loved it and the film resonated with them.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Covid made me do it! Haha. I’ve worked as a choreographer for the majority of my professional life, but I’ve also always had a broader creative vision that’s been itching to get out. When the pandemic shut down all avenues of live entertainment work, the opportunity to make films presented itself and I grabbed it with both hands. I found a collaborative force in cinematographer/editor, AJ Paug, and he’s been up for doing anything and everything I want to do. My cousin, John Gray, is a very successful director/producer/writer for tv and film, and he’s also been a huge inspiration in my creative life. He’s the one who encouraged me to put “Reverie” on the film festival circuit and it’s been a great experience so far.

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

Ooh, that’s a tough question! I’d probably have to say it’s a combination of: West Side Story, Top Gun (80’s child problems lol) and Weekend at Bernie’s (when my grandmother was dying of cancer, we used to watch that movie together all the time and she laughed so hard!). The most random trio of films ever, haha; but, they probably encapsulate me pretty well.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I really love the fact that your festival provides audience feedback and opportunities for promotion, ie. Blog interview and podcast interview. Your efforts to support filmmakers are truly so appreciated! I think it would also be great to have a type of networking experience that puts specific people together based on their abilities and interests. It would also be amazing to have distribution opportunities be part of the potential awards.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s been great! Film Freeway makes submissions super easy and their team is very responsive with any questions.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Cook any type of seafood, add in a glass of wine and I’m there!

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

I currently have a dance docuseries, a reality/competitiion show and a streaming performance show in development. There’s an awesome location near my house that I’ve been dying to shoot a new short at, but the idea is still marinating :). Coming soon…

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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