Interview with Filmmaker Johanna J. Lunn (IN THE REALM OF DEATH & DREAMING)

IN THE REALM OF DEATH & DREAMING was the winner of BEST FEATURE FILM at the June 2022 WILDsound Film Festival.

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1. What motivated you to make this film?

My mother died unexpectedly when I was 19 and in the following 2 years I experienced 2 more significant deaths. I was in a deep place of grief, but the world around me was so death phobic, no one knew how to talk to me. I suppose I represented the biggest fears – loosing people you love. So I was ignored, or avoided or worse, people would say things like “just get over it.” That has got to be the worst thing anyone can say to someone who is grieving. So all these experience stuck with me and took years to process. In the Realm of Death & Dreaming and the whole When You Die Project (2 more films to come, a beautiful website and podcast) grew out a a deep desire to normalize the conversation around death. To bring it into to our lives. Because it already IS a part of life but most of us are so afraid of it, we push it aside. But fear comes from not knowing about something. We are most afraid of those things we don’t know. So thats my motivation.

In the Realm of Death & Dreaming asks the big question: Does consciousness continue after death. I started with this question because how we answer that question for our selves effects how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives. It also really forces of to think about what it means to be human – the preciousness of it.

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

I’ve been working on the bigger project for 8 years! That’s hard for me to believe, but it’s true. In the Realm of Death & Dreaming took about 5 years and was made while I was still working my “day job” – the work that paid me!

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

Supportive and affirming

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

time and money

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

Delighted! I was so excited to hear how important and affirming the film was for them. It was really moving.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I have always been interested in stories and story telling all my life.

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

I’m not sure I understand this question. But I like all types of films. But as a maker, I love the documentary form the best.

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

Help getting the word about about this film is the most critical. The feedback is sustaining for me, which is also important.

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

FilmFreeway is super easy to work with. So it’s a 2 thumbs up for me.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Oh my, I don’t think I can pick just one. I am primarily vegetarian, but will have sushi from time to time. And anything with mushrooms is a big hit!

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

The next film in the trilogy is Saying Goodbye: Preparing for Death. It’s about demystifying the dying process. I hope is will be affirming, and also go a long way to reduce our fear of death.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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