Scandinavian Dream Reel

Somewhere in Scandinavia

*Somewhere in Scandinavia*

Large sliding black-tinted doors open to reveal a pristine snow dusted landscape of majestic treelines & mirrored architecture, erected to reflect the surrounding beauty.

I was departing from an aerodrome of some sort, from where I then took a modest shuttle car to explore a quaint town market nearby. It was in this market where I found myself drawn to a bistro on the outskirts of the square.

Upon entering the bistro, the shift in tone was viscerally palpable; that contrast between blindingly bright ice-laden sidewalks & freshly crisp air vs dimly lit smoke-filled corridors stained with the scent of espresso & bakery confections.

The bistro’s interior was one of emerald green & black marbled coffee tables, cherry red leather-lined booth seating, & abstractly fragmented stained glass lighting fixtures. The structural layout was comprised of an impressive multi-split level floor plan, which was spaced out to house each dining area with its own dimensional construction; an arrangement yielding the illusion of several staggered Penrose-like dens.

I ended up at a table of enthusiastic film students, though not of the typically pretensive vanguard. No, these were genuine lovers of the arts. Their passions required no introductory validation, no pretense. Theirs was an ardor I experienced intuitively.

We discussed regional filmmakers in depth, among the likes of Lars Von Trier, Nicolas Winding Refn, André Øvredal, Tomas Alfredson, Niels Arden Oplev, & Paul Verhoeven, etc. We must have spent hours in conversation, as the café clerk was now practically sweeping us out the door.

With the Nordic dusk impending, we tied up loose ends of our conversation. One of the students asked me if I’d like to join them on their walk back to campus. She quipped that the distance was lofty, but no more so than our conversation had been thus far. I laughed, but soon became overwhelmed with a crippling sense of reclusive anxiety. I wanted to join them, but couldn’t find it in myself to do so. I thanked them for the offer, & said that I had to make my way back downtown to catch the shuttle. We exchanged formalities & then headed our separate ways.

Waking back towards the square, I stared down at my shoes, lost in a mood somewhere between disappointed & complacent. I reached the sidewalk’s end, only to find no shuttle car. I noticed a man that also appeared to be waiting for a ride. I began to ask him if he knew when the next transport would arrive, & realized that this man was no stranger – this man was my favorite film director, Richard Linklater!

I fumbled over words, dazed (& confused) like a deer in the headlights, spilling out adorations as if they were endless. I eventually worked up the nerve to ask Richard why he was in this obscure sector of Scandinavia. He then proceeded to describe to me the premise of his next film, with that casual brilliance Linklater is known for.

He was in the process of scouting several different locations to film the same conversation held by inhabitants of each region. The concept was to juxtapose varying locals, cultures, languages, & people with the conceptual through-line of a singular discussion.

Richard then returned my inquiry, a question I hadn’t yet considered. Ironically enough, everything up to this point had felt completely natural & distinct, unlike lucid dreams where you’re generally aware of the abstractions around you. I thought on it for a moment, not being able to remember anything before those sliding doorways at the air station. Then, in a whim of unbridled honesty, I told Richard:

“I think this is all a dream, but I don’t know where I’ve come from, why I’m here, or where I’m going…”

He laughed & compassionately replied,

“From my experience, trajectories are overrated. Learn to accept the presentness of every passing moment – Even in dreams, we’re always in motion.”

By this point, Richard’s ride had pulled up to the curb; the infamous boat car from the 2nd chapter of Waking Life! Richard kindly asked if I “needed a lift on down the line?”, to which I politely declined stating that I had some moments to catch up on. I gestured a farewell salute quoting “all ashore that’s going ashore”, & watched the boat car float off through the sky into the distance. I then turned around & ran back towards the bistro in hopes to catch up with my newfound friends, accepting whatever awaited me in this realized dream state.

From then on, the events of this reverie flowed in a stream-of-consciousness deluge. Images & events played out as a montage of memories. Warmth & color enveloped everything. It was an experiential collage of late night apartment parties, open air stargazing, lazy mornings under flannel bed sheets, solitary songwriting & ensemble jam sessions, café conversations, film set excursions, & cinema carousals – all under the milieu of sublime contentment.

As the fog of that rapture lifted, I soon found myself at open waters atop a large air raft. The expanse of lake was vast, riddled with pockets of sea ice & glacier calving. The region was end-capped with cliffs & peaks, all soaring high into the heavens. Surrounded by my fellow film fiends, the mood was taut, wrought with a meticulous fervor. The float was barely sizeable enough to house our makeshift production crew. This consisted of two digital cameras (one stationary via tripod & the other a shoulder-mounted handheld), two boom microphones (one hoisted roughly 20 feet into the air & the other anchored to the raft, half covered by means of a metallic spherical cupping for exaggerated sound design), & a three-fold LED lighting panel (with each panel lamp angled to intersect glares, resulting in various flashes of celadon & sepia hues against the frozen artic backdrop).

We were shooting an experimental short film with the Norwegian title Tiltredelse (Accession). Its premise was simple, to film a seaplane from vanishing point to landing in one seamless take with no cuts or edits, producing all audio & visual effects in real-time. The final product would combine footage & audio from both perspectives to produce a blending of surreality & singularity.

Tensions were high as we anticipated the go ahead signal from the pilot via shortwave radio. Due to the scope & expense of the project, we had only one shot at getting our one shot. This meant success or failure, with no room for middle ground in between. The cameras were positioned respectively, poised in focus & frame. The mics were stationed & steadied. Lighting was engaged & ready for triggering…

“Løft Av!”, gargled a voice through the speaker. The clap board snapped, & we commenced the capture of sight & sound, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our focal point on the horizon! The skyline lay barren as our fluorescent flares pulsated flashing glares across the foreground. Our towering boom mic detected distant rumbles of the jet plane still beyond sight, as the condenser caught premonitions of thunderous vibrations. Now finally, the sea plane had pierced our field of vision & was quickly approaching. With our steady-cam fixated on the target, the handheld was free to hover ever so slightly, dancing in & out of focus. As our protagonist neared, the noise was monstrous, echoing off the icy waters & surrounding canyons. Alas, the plane speedingly glided past us in a fury of mist & majesty for its grand finale; a most masterful of landings!

Then I awoke.

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