Keith is a struggling writer who suffers from a sleeping problem that he can't wake from. He is soon unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
Interview with Writer/Director Miles Eves
Congratulations! Why did you decide to write and direct this film?
Well I had read David Lynch's Book: Catching The Big Fish and in it he talks about the subconscious and how it can be used as a way to tell a story. The way he describes it is fascinating: “its an ocean or a reservoir that lies underneath us that we can tap into and everyone has it filmmakers, sports athletes, writers”.
A lot of the imagery in the movie came from inspiration from listening to the song Sarabandes No.3 by Erik Satie who was a French composer who made some truly beautiful music. His other music is used in a lot of films like Gymnopédies - it's pretty iconic - but Sarabandes No.3 really spoke to me and I could see the shots in my mind when I listened to it.
That's how I usually make films, from listening to music and seeing it visually appear in my mind. It's not really the normal or standard way to make movies but that's how I work. And as soon as I get an image in my head it's very hard to get it out of my mind.
I'm not comparing myself to him but George Miller said when he was making Mad Max Fury Road he was “haunted” by images of Max for 10 years and when I saw the movie I completely understood what he was saying, there was so many striking scenes and moments where it lunged at the camera. You can tell he was thinking about it 24 hours a day.
Why is the film called Somnia?
It's kind of a play on words from insomnia I suppose. It is the reverse effects of insomnia in that instead of being awake it’s being asleep. It’s about sleeping and dreaming and how the protagonist is sleeping against his will and is trapped inside his own body.
Is the film autobiographical?
To some degree, yes it is. I kept having these deep sleeps where it was quite hard to wake up and get up. And what's worse is that I knew I was dreaming and sleeping but I still couldn't wake up. It's kind of like being pulled under a very strong wave or current at the beach and you're at the bottom on the ocean floor waiting to re-surface but it never happens or you're stuck under an ice lake.
I've seen movies about this before like Total Recall and Inception and they always show it as a positive fun adventure where you can do anything but I feel like if you knew you were living in a false reality it would be a horrible existential nightmare. You wouldn't be doing cool matrix style kung fu. It's strange because after I made the movie it almost immediately stopped, I don't believe that movies can help or heal someone or radically alter them but I guess it was therapy for me and it helped in some way.
How did director David Lynch inspire Somnia?
To say David Lynch has had a huge impact on me is kind of an understatement. I had already seen his work years before so it was only a matter of time before it crept into Somnia. For me he is so important to cinema and he is up there with Ingmar Bergman and Martin Scorsese and Max Ophuls etc.
I think Lynch’s face should be printed on the American Currency - he is an international treasure. He is such a sincere and true filmmaker, he has absolutely no cynicism or loathing for the audience or filmmaking. He tells stories directly from his heart and personality, and he allows the beauty and aesthetics to take over and work itself naturally into the story. He isn't worried about over analyzing and over thinking things to death, he just does it and knows it will work out.
Just looking at his TV show Twin Peaks it's kind of a condensed version of who David Lynch is, especially with the opening title screen when we see the shots of nature and this remote town where they filmed it. It is so achingly beautiful and you can tell that he genuinely loves the American Mid-West and all the trappings that come with it.
The closeup shots of the bird sitting on the branch and then the closeup shot of the factory machines working. If anyone else had shot that it wouldn't make sense but David Lynch has a connecting tissue that links it all together. And also the music by Angelo Badalamenti is so moving and emotional it makes me tear up and I have no idea why but it just does he's also coming back to do another season of Twin Peaks and it's incredibly exciting.
David Lynch finds things in us that no one else can really get to, he has a way of bringing out our fears and dreams and desires and making it tangible and real for us to see and I think that is one of the goals that filmmakers should aspire to much like Federico Fellini's movie 8½ which was a film David Lynch looked up to as he admired Fellini.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I showed it at a film festival and it has been getting a fairly good response and a few people came up to me after the screening and told me how much they liked it and these were strangers I had never met before, they weren't friends or family. So it is pretty encouraging for me that it strikes a chord with someone and it connects to them in some way.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
One comment that surprised me was that someone said my movie reminded them a lot of Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives with some of the shots. I was incredibly flattered considering I did all of the camera operating and I really love Nicolas Winding Refn and I really liked Only God Forgives and saw it at the cinemas but people really hated that movie for some reason.
I was the only person who liked that movie, it was so strange because it felt like I had seen a different movie compared to everyone else. It was very moody and vibrant and I could tell that Nicolas Winding Refn was trying really hard to achieve something big and I don't know if he achieved it but I think that it's still a really good movie that will have a big cult following years from now and people will look back and re-examine it and learn to love it.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
It's no secret that the internet has become a part of our lives and hopefully this will spread its visibility and more people will see it around the world. It's also crazy to think that we can now contact important filmmakers like Mark Romanek or Guillermo Del Toro and email them our movies and have them look at it and offer advice. I would want as many people as possible to see it and know who I am and that I'm making films.
I don't expect Marvel Films to ring me up and ask me to do their next movie but I want people to know I exist. I guess it's a primal scream into the vast cavern of the internet. I would want other people in the Australian film industry to contact me and say they're interested in doing something.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I need all of those people and more. If they enjoyed it or saw something in it, then they should share it with their friends and family and help promote it. But I would really like to meet a Producer who has the same sensibilities as me who would want to make something with me that would be mutually beneficial because I'm trying to crowdfund my next movie so either way I need someone to help me make it happen. I also wouldn't mind talking about it on other film sites or podcasts and talk about the film more.
You’re also releasing a film app. Is this linked to Somnia?
No, it's a separate project. I'm working on and releasing an app called the Filmmaker Toolkit that will be released for Android on the Google Playstore and on Apple ios in early May. It is an app designed by me. After I had made Somnia I wanted an app for filmmakers that would have everything they would need like Documents, Storyboards and other things.
It is also aimed towards film students or people who are passionate about filmmaking and want to know more. I lay out the basic fundamentals in the app and talk about the core elements that they should know and how it will help them achieve their goals when making a movie.
Before I started working on it I had looked at the other apps and they were all very vague and inaccurate and they didn't have what I was looking for so I just decided to make it. The app is a culmination of my years working in TV and when I studied under Andrew Lesnie who was an Academy Award winning Cinematographer who did The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and Planet Of The Apes.
And it is generally aimed at all levels of production so I think everyone can find something useful in it, it's not a Director's app. It is coming out soon I just need to add some more finishing touches to it but keep an eye out on the Google Playstore and Apple ios. It is going to be free and it doesn't have content blocked behind a paywall or premium features like other apps so it really is a grass roots effort in helping as many people as possible. I'm also open to any android developers who may be interested in partnering with me.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
I would hopefully want people to question their own reality or place in the world or at least talk about it. I think the movie is very honest and very sincere so hopefully people will feel something from it and be stirred in some way. I want people to know that Australian films should have the flexibility to be anything and we shouldn't pigeon hole ourselves into one genre or style of filmmaking. We can do anything we want and tell whatever story we want.
I'm sick and tired of hearing what is or isn't a “true” Australian film. The people who say that usually have never made a film or understand what it takes to be a filmmaker and the pressures that are involved. We should be celebrating all films not howling mindless criticism at them.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this film?
I suppose what I said in the previous question. My question would be “why are we so quick to dismiss our own films?” We need to get over our own cultural cringe and just do our own thing. And I think that's why people like George Miller are so important because when Fury Road came out the whole world fell in love with Australia and Australian cinema again like it was in the 1970s or early 1980s. And I don't know how to dismantle it but I think it needs to be a unified effort from every part of the industry from the PA to the Producer. We need more voices that tell more varied stories otherwise we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes and be stuck in the same cycle over and over again.
Interview: April 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Current Status: Completed
Length: 5 mins
Genre: Experimental thriller
Director: Miles Eves
Producer: Miles Eves
About Miles Eves: Miles Eves is an independent director from Melbourne who has previously worked in television and studied under Andrew Lesnie before becoming a director.
Looking for (ie buyer, distributor, sales agent, producer, media interest) I'm looking for a producer who has the same eye for films and we both share a mutual interest and would want to help make more projects with me, I also wouldn't mind finding an agent who can help me secure more work as well. It would also be great if the media would want to be involved and promote it to like the independent film sites and underground film festivals.
Funders: Miles Eves
Made in association with: Miles Eves
Where can I watch it? Currently it is submitted in the film festival circuit so I can't release it just yet but it will be available on Youtube on my official Miles Eves Channel.