Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Your Dreams

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

I'm a dreamer. I do it all the time. Usually when I'm asleep, but not always. Sometimes I get so caught up in my dreams that I have trouble separating them from reality. Every now and then, I wake up with a dream still fresh in my mind that's so vivid, it feels more "real" than my actual life. Other times, I'll remember something so clearly that I can't tell if it really happened or if I dreamed it. Of course, there are those who say that what we think of as "reality" is actually just an illusion. And someday we may "wake up" and realize it was all just a dream.

Unless, of course, we are really "waking up" into another dream.

Oftentimes I'll be sound asleep and dream that I wake up and try to remember what I was dreaming about. I keep a notepad next to my bed to write down some of the brilliant ideas that come to me in my dreams. So, I get into this crazy loop where I have a really cool dream, then I dream that I "wake up" and write down what the first dream was about. And, even though somewhere in the back of my mind I know that I am actually asleep, I manage to convince myself that if I "write down" the dream within the dream, I will remember it when I really do wake up.

But that never works.

Still, I have come up with some good ideas in my dreams. A lot of my dreams are just like movies. I've always wished I had some way to record them so I could watch them later. I guess that's why I like to write screenplays. I keep hoping that one of these days I will get to see one of my "dreams" up on the big screen. I actually had a dream once that I went to the premier of one of my movies. That was pretty cool. It was like a dream come true.

Except that it was only a dream.

When I was researching my first screenplay, Merlin, I read a bunch of books on magic. I learned that magic is essentially the act of taking a thought and making it real. That's not all that different from writing, really. Or just about any other form of creation, for that matter. Later, when I was writing Merlin, I had several weird experiences where I felt like some of the things I was conjuring up in my head were manifesting themselves in my life. I wasn't sure if it was really happening or if it was just coincidence, but it was pretty intense.

I thought the story of someone whose dreams started coming true would be a good idea for a screenplay. I wrote an outline about a guy who keeps having dreams about a beautiful, dark-haired girl. Then, one day, he sees her out on the street. He can't believe it. He tries to follow her, but loses her in the crowd. That night he dreams that she is in danger, and becomes obsessed with finding her and rescuing her.

Over the course of several rewrites, the story changed a bit. Eventually it turned into the tale of a young lawyer who dreams about being James Bond, and ends up in the middle of a totally Bond-like adventure in his real life. The girl changed, too. She went from a dark-haired mystery girl to a kick-ass blonde. I kept the original title though. I called it, In Your Dreams.

I quite enjoyed doing the research for In Your Dreams, which basically involved re-reading every Bond novel, and re-watching every Bond movie. I zeroed in on The Spy Who Loved Me as a good template for my story. It is the only Bond novel which is not told from James Bond's perspective, but instead from that of a young woman whom James Bond ends up rescuing. I decided to do a gender-switch with the young lawyer in the role of the rescuee and the kick-ass blonde became, who else? Jane Bond. I finished the script and posted the synopsis on a couple of screenplay websites, hoping to attract a flurry of attention.

The flurry never did materialize, although I did get an email from England from a young music-video director named Raj, who really liked the idea. I sent him the script and he loved it. We traded some emails back and forth for a while, discussing various projects and ideas. When Raj came to Hollywood for a visit, I brought him over to legendary guitar wizard Will Ray's house for a very untraditional Thanksgiving dinner. Raj and I have continued to stay in touch. He has since moved to Los Angeles and is currently in the process of launching his career as a feature film director.

Meanwhile, a few years went by. I had nearly forgotten about posting In Your Dreams on those screenplay websites, when I got a random email from a producer in Texas who said he was very interested. He loved the James Bond angle and wanted to try casting all of the old ex-Bonds in key roles. I thought that was a brilliant idea. We spent several months exchanging emails about the story, during which time it went through further revisions. He contributed some really good ideas, and I pretty much used them all. But then, as so often happens, he decided not to pursue the project. He was pretty cool about it, letting me know that I was welcome to go ahead use his ideas. (I was going to do that anyway, but it was a nice gesture.)

After that, I put In Your Dreams back up on the shelf and went on to my next project.

Then, about a week ago, I went to see Inception. And it was awesome. Not only is Inception a very cool movie about the thin line between dreams and reality, but it also has some kick-ass Bond-like action sequences. Especially in the third act, which is practically a remake of the third act of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (Starring George Lazenby, by the way, who would be perfect as the villain in In Your Dreams.)

Once again, In Your Dreams has moved to the forefront of my thoughts. It's been floating around my subconscious for years, developing a kind of mythical status. At this point it's like a half-remembered dream that I had years ago. It seemed so real at the time -- but did it really happen? Some of the images are so clear in my mind, it's as though I truly remember seeing them. And, in a way, I guess I did see them, up there on the big screen inside my head. Where all of my dreams come true. Only this time, I'm pretty sure I woke up and wrote it all down.

Or did I just dream that, too?