This film was based off of nightmares I’d been having last year. I’ve always been a fan of horror, especially psychological horror, so David Smith and I came up with this idea that nightmares are actually glimpses of some sort of real purgatory. We went a step further and turned it into this revolving door type thing where each victim has nightmares of the previous victim. I’ve always been fascinated with therapy and psychiatry and what it means to be in that profession, hearing the worst of people’s problems and trying to find a way to help them from within. I kinda always thought that if a psychiatrist were to be an asshole he could really turn an emotionally fragile person’s world upside down. In “Sweet Dreams” the psychiatrist is more than an asshole, he’s the devil’s harbinger.
The Baphomet is actually a mystical devil creature that was said to be worshiped by the Knights of the Templar. I read a bit about it and it’s ties with Satanism which led me to learn about Aleister Crawley. I used the name for the psychiatrist in this film but he’s not actually supposed to be Aleister Crawley, it’s just a sort of nod to him.
The Baphomet creature is usually associated with the Sabbatic Goat, a devil with the head of a goat and the body of a human, but I wanted to make something new out of it. At first I created a multi layered digital 2D version of the creature and did some test shots to see how it looked in a 3D environment. The results were good, but not great so I decided to go practical on the monster’s look. I purchased a sort of traditional devil mask and repainted it by hand. The creature was also given practical wings which were spray painted and attached to the actor’s arms. We also painted the actor’s entire torso black. In the end, I decided to go with a hybrid of the original 2D creature and the practical creature.
The film was split into three shoots. On our first outing we shot the intro scene with Frankee Wallace. We filmed the scene at Earl Bales Park in North York. We ended up with about two hours of footage for a one minute scene. This scene was inspired by the opening scene of the French film “Martyrs”. I feel like it might be my favourite scene in “Sweet Dreams”.
The second shoot took three days and consisted of shooting mostly all of the film, minus the ending. We shot all of the psychiatrist scenes/Evelyn’s apartment scenes at my condo. We used a studio space at Centennial College to do the “torture” scenes which wouldn’t have been possible without Xavier Lewis who took care of mostly all the lighting for those bits. The practical effects were a must for me so we used latex prosthetics and a real knife.
On the final day of our second shoot we returned to Earl Bales to film Evelyn’s outdoor scenes as well as the “dream scene” with Aleister Crawley that happens near the end of the film. We lucked out on the lighting. It was a combination of bright sunlight and looming rain clouds.
We took a break from the film for two and a half months before returning to shoot the final scene. The reason for the break was due to the fact that the film had a totally different ending originally. The new/final ending occurred to me while editing the film and it seemed to tie everything together in terms of the situation being a never ending cycle.
In the editing room, I decided to go for a late 70’s early 80’s classic horror aesthetic. I tinted the image to have a sort of De Palma feel and I tried to craft a Carpenter-esque soundtrack. The film was cut on FCP 7.
All in all, we had a blast making this film. I’m quite proud of it.
“Sweet Dreams” stars Grace Munro, Glen Reid, Marissa Lair, Terry Tyler and Frankee Wallace.
Here’s a video of us having fun on set: