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I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS

About The Production
Brett Haley, who directed, co-wrote, and edited I'll See You in My Dreams, acknowledges that an exploration of the lives of a group of retirees might seem an unusual choice for a filmmaker in his 30s. Yet Haley sees the story of Carol, a still vital widow whose carefully constructed life suddenly collapses, as a tale that audiences of every age will identify with as they witness her tentatively begin to take another chance on life with the help of a few very good friends.

"I wanted to explore that idea of living life to the fullest, rather than being afraid of it ending," says Haley. "I don't think older characters are often represented appropriately in films, so I tried to make something original and honest about the people in the third acts of their lives."

Carol is no shrinking violet. Strong, stubborn, and opinionated, she lost her husband suddenly 20 years earlier and has never considered remarrying. Her routines are her lifeline. Up promptly at six a.m. each day, she drinks coffee and reads the paper in her garden with her beloved dog, plays golf with her friend Sally, and enjoys bridge at night with the ladies. These habits keep her comfortable and safe, each day essentially the same.

"But when her dog dies, her routine crumbles," Haley says. "It reminds her that we all know we have to die and it affects how we live. The situation forces her to open up to other experiences. It's not that her routine was a bad thing, but it's time for her to incorporate more into her life. No one is really going to get through life unscathed, but that shouldn't deter us from embracing all its ups and downs."

Haley wrote the script with Marc Basch, a software engineer by day who writes short stories and novels in his spare time. "I met Marc because I was interested in adapting one of his stories for a film," explains the director. "We worked together on the script and became friends through that process. I don't like to write alone. I need somebody to bounce ideas off of. It has been a really great experience, and I can see it being a lifelong collaboration."

Haley has been bouncing stories off of his partner ever since. "Brett has so many ideas for the films he wants to make," says Basch. "Carol's story stuck out for me. All he had at the time was a woman whose dog dies. She doesn't know what to do with herself and she tries speed dating, as Carol does with pretty hilarious results in our film."

"That was the beginning," he says. "The most important thing was taking her out of her element. As we talked about the story, who Carol would become was very clear to us. People may say that two guys in their 30s are unlikely authors of a script about a woman in her 70s, but we know her."

Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith, founders of the production company Two Flints, were immediately impressed by the script and signed on as producers. "To have roles for older actors that weren't peripheral was exciting," says Green. "The script is full of genuine characters that speak truthfully. Brett and Marc did an amazing job of giving us the kinds of complex, rounded-out female characters that are needed on screen now, regardless of age."

Green and Smith helped Haley set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise seed money for the film. To generate interest in the project, they asked elderly members of their own families and the residents of a Los Angeles area retirement community to participate in video interviews. With candid humor, participants answered questions about the advantages and disadvantages of aging, dating as a senior, and advice for younger people. "We wanted to get older people to speak to us truthfully about their lives and feelings about aging," says Smith. "Their stories and insights were funny, charming, inspiring, and spoke directly to the themes in the film. We realized that everyone, no matter what age or background, connects to these topics, which made for a very successful campaign."

The participants in the video have a great deal in common with Carol and her friends. "The characters in this movie are all people who just happen to be of a certain age," says Haley. "You're only as old as you act. In the Kickstarter video, there is an 80-year-old woman who says she doesn't feel old, but she has friends 20 or more years younger who are old because they act old. The idea that age is nothing but a number is, to a certain degree, very true."

There was a temptation to put their characters through a more sensational arc, says Basch. "But ultimately we wanted to tell a story that represents what real people go through, not some kind of 'old person goes on a big adventure' story. And when you watch it, it does feel like a big, life-changing deal in Carol's world. I'm so happy we wrote a story that I think is worth telling and experiencing."

Haley hopes audiences will be receptive to the subject matter. "When I go to the movies, I love to see something I don't already know, but I can still relate to," he says. "I created these characters that have nothing to do with me because I wanted to put myself in their shoes and understand a little bit more about humanity. One of the lessons of the movie is that we lose things in this life. It's part of the journey. But life is also full of amazing and joyful things. Where do you find that balance? That's what this movie's about. Accept the good and the bad about life and don't be afraid to go out there and give it all you've got."

"This movie was shot from the hip and the gut," he adds. "Now that people are seeing the finished product, it's pretty cool how much they relate to it and find it really funny and touching and real. If you're 16 or 66, this movie will speak to you. That message to go out there and do your best is universal. We're all looking for something. We're all hoping for the best. Trying to find that balance and love the people around you and be vulnerable, these are hard things to do. But I hope when people see the film they're inspired to try."

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