OUTTAKES – The Dragon in My Dreams

James / June 22nd, 2010

If you’ve watched The Dragon in My Dreams, you know the story. I remember a recurring dream I had as a child, about a dragon. The dragon was an actual water fountain at a park where I used to play. I probably hadn’t been to the park since I was 3 years old. I don’t know why I started thinking about it again, all of a sudden. I got curious, does the dragon still exist? In combination with that, I was already planning another retrospective “Cinemassacre 300” where I try to trace my own origin as a filmmaker. Why do I create the things I do? Where did all my ideas come from in the first place? The dragon was my earliest memory, the very thing that inspired me to tell stories about monsters. It’s not too often you owe so much to an inanimate object.

I made the trip out there. At first, I doubted I would even be able to find the same playground. I knew it was near the hospital where I was born, so I used that as a reference. Surprisingly, I found the park very easily. The big question was if the dragon would still be there. And so it was! When I saw it, I shouted “oh my God” over and over. It looked exactly how I remembered it. There was a lot of paint chipping off, but it was the very image that had been burned into my mind for so many years. I was amazed at how it still towered over me. It made me feel like I was still that same child.

I called my camera operator Matt to come film it for the video I was making. “What day’s good for you?” , he asked. I said “How about Tuesday?” So we headed back there on Tuesday. I had the whole video planned. I would walk up to the dragon, greet it like an old friend, and that would be the ending of the video, being reunited with the most impressionable object from my past, the symbol of all my fears and aspirations. We even had a crane that we were going to mount the camera on. It would have been a great way to reveal the dragon, to raise the camera up on the crane, pointing down at me, from behind the dragon. Well… as seen in the video, we showed up that day to find the park cluttered with rubble and construction equipment. The gates were barricaded. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were renovating the park. The swings were being removed, the slide, everything! A worker with a jackhammer was getting ready to take down the dragon. I went up and basically told them my life story, that I used to visit this dragon as a kid, and was just now coincidentally making a video about it. They let me in. The worker was nice enough to put down the jackhammer for a few minutes, while Matt filmed me gazing up at the dragon for the last time. As we left the park, I realized that a 30 year chapter of my life came to an ironic ending.

I still can’t get over the fact that we happened to choose that particular day. If we went there one day earlier, we would have filmed it like planned, and never known what was going to happen. If we went one day later, the park would have been remodeled and the dragon moved. It seemed like it was some sort of fate, as if the dragon had telepathically called me to come back to witness it one last time. Really weird.

This short “outtakes” video captures some of the shock we experienced on that day. Before I even realized what was happening, I told Matt to roll camera and film me walking into the park. Watch my expression. You can see me staring totally in disbelief, containing my emotions, but feeling devastated on the inside. After all, I’m glad we were able to film the dragon one last time, and it gave the video a new direction.

The workers told me the dragon was being moved the front gate, and I hear it’s happened successfully. The dragon now stands on the sidewalk, though it’s a bit shorter than before. My last memory of it will always be in the very spot I remembered as a kid, towering over me.

Thanks everyone for all your positive comments on the Dragon in My Dreams video. I really appreciate it.

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