Shot in 26 days in San Francisco and around the San Francisco Bay Area, "Dream With the Fishes" is the first feature directed by screenwriter Finn Taylor. A native of the Bay Area, Taylor decided to use San Francisco, Oakland, and the coastal community of Pescadero as the backdrop for this unusual story. "I really had a sense that I wanted to set this story somewhere away from the overused landscape of L.A."
Guiding the productions through over fifty locations on a tight schedule was a major challenge for 3 Ring Circus producer Johnny Wow and Bay Area producer Mitchell Stein. "The long hours it took to pull this off was worth it because this was a labor of love for everyone involved," says Wow.
When Taylor committed to doing the film, he found help from all directions. 3 Ring Circus, already a leader in international design and production, decided to make "Dream With the Fishes" the debut film of their motion picture division. President of 3 Ring Circus Jeff Boortz, says that 3 Ring wants to produce strong, character based films. "We were attracted to 'Dream With the Fishes' because of the range and depth of emotion in the script, particularly the balance of tragic and humorous elements in the creation of, and bond between, its two main characters."
In order to get a completely unique look for the film, Taylor looked to director of photography Barry Stone, C.S.C. ("Rude," "Paris, France," "Pale Saints") who devised a new photographic process that had never been tried before. "I like to take risks and this one has paid off," says Stone. "Finn told me he thought the look of modern film stocks was too clean and too realistic looking. He really liked the distancing effect that you get with older films--the sort of mythologizing quality of older film stocks. We talked about 'The Last Detail' and some other movies from the early seventies when we were discussing how we wanted the film to look. The colors would be very high contrast, and the shadows would be darker than usual, so that you wouldn't be able to see into the dark areas of the screen. To that end we shot with some unusual stocks, and then manipulated the contrast levels at the interpositive stage."
"We also decided that we wanted the two main sections of the film each to have a distinct look," Stone continues. "San Francisco would be depicted as urban and grungy, and the Pescadero area would be a lot brighter. When Nick and Terry get in the car and hit the road, they're beginning a new part of their life, and we wanted that to be reflected visually. When Terry goes back to San Francisco after Nick has died, the film returns to that grungy look. But when he confesses to the woman he's been spying on--when he decides to make a new start-- the film shifts tone back to the cleaner look. For this scene, when we were printing the interpositive, we actually dissolved from one film stock to another. "
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