There are countless inspirational stories of struggling actors moving to Los Angeles in hopes of their big break in entertainment or writers living in New York hoping to land a big position.
The Dream from Atlas Brave is one of those series. Even with the cliché that is the basis of this production, it does touch on some very important themes about accomplishing your dreams, enduring hardships, and building community.
Ron Najor, the director of the pilot episode, is a first-generation Iraqi American filmmaker, producer, and writer. He strides to tell authentic stories that promote diversity and the human experience. His background shapes the work he produces by providing a unique perspective. This is, of course, evident in his body of work, like I Am Not a Hipster. His writing collaboration with Trevor Fernando has made this portrayal of a struggling director feel real and honest.
Along with the director and writers comes a cast that brings this show to life. Micah Bijon as Daryl reminds us all that it’s really hard living in LA when you are freshly graduated. Kristin Erickson as Molly is the pop-star singer, who is creating a music video. Mark Christopher Lawrence plays a convincing jerk stage manager who tells everyone under him what to do. Joey Thompson is Sean, Molly’s manager. Kaleti Williams plays Henry, a guy that helps out the rookie Daryl. Nikohl Boosheri plays Meena, a queer character who helps Daryl land a production assistant job. Kandis Fay plays Liz, who messes with Daryl on his first day on set. Together this clique puts in an 18-hour day for only $100 and a chance to produce more work.
Daryl, a promising recent graduate of film school, moves to LA in hopes of making his dream of becoming a director a reality. His accomplishments in film school mean little if anything in the real world of LA. Meena, a friend from film school, tells him if he does a good job, she can hire him again. He, like many others that have come before him (except for those who benefit from nepotism), must learn what it takes to produce, manage, and construct a working entertainment video. He soon becomes acquainted with the reality of the entertainment industry — not everyone is as nice as they appear. This is of course revealed throughout the episode by a number of characters. His dream of becoming a director takes a detour due to a number of obstacles. Only time will tell if he has what it takes to make it as the series progresses.
The director takes no shortcuts in portraying the struggles of making it big in LA. Recent film school graduates working their way up from PA while running into peers from school with better positions is what a lot of individuals face after college. The show digs deep into the technical aspects of production. The camera used in the making of the music video has a specific problem, which Daryl has firsthand knowledge of from his award-winning short. He has a working knowledge of and skill with older cameras. This ability to use this special skillset combines with being given tasks that Daryl feels are less than what he is qualified for.
The camera work and cinematography in this production is outstanding, following the making of a music video — a behind the scenes look. This could even be considered an adapted interpretation of the Devil Wears Prada. Life and work sometimes feel like their the same thing. The acting, joking, and even rude bosses play up the reality of each situation.
This short series puts into focus the struggles that many face in their attempt to live their best life and follow their dreams. The theme and story line are not fresh, but they do represent a serious tone that draws on the commonality of what many have experienced, feeling like we are at the top of our game only to discover new goals to reach in the game of life. Everyone is chasing something, and this production gives us one perspective. Now, what are you chasing? In the motivational speech given by Shia LaBeouf, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”
While many stories are similar to The Dream, it does show promise for originality. There is a sincerity to this production and a lot to enjoy. This writer only hopes that as the progress continues that the jokes don’t take till the end of the episode to land. So, if you’re up for it, sit back and give it a chance.
To watch the SXSW pilot showcase which includes this title and more, CLICK HERE.
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Donnie Lopez is a gay Latino/Hispanic social and political commentator, writer, entertainment journalist, and professor. He writes on topics that affect Hispanic/Latino culture. With his novel insight, veracity, and sense of humor, he entertains as well as educates the world.