Deep Lucid Dreaming Interview Series
Through the special effects documentary film, Painting Doors: The Art of Lucid Dreaming, a group of talented young filmmakers hope to inspire people to experience the wonders of lucid dreaming. I had the pleasure of meeting them and sharing some of my own lucid dream stories on camera, as did Melanie Schädlich and Simon Rausch. Representing the team are Timo Hanczuk and Julia Kuhn from the Media University in Stuttgart, Germany.
Julia Kuhn: We had crazy ideas in the beginning – from a space petrol station to a war scenario in a spooky forest to a Matrix-like nightmare horror movie. But none of those ideas felt like: yeah, that’s the one! In one of our meetings our professor Katja Schmid said: Why does it always have to be a Hollywood-like movie? Why not something different? Why not a documentary?
The whole team agreed with her – why not something else this time? From our Matrix-like horror movie we instantly thought of false awakenings and finally of lucid dreaming; a skill that from the first moment of researching caught our interest. In addition it was a topic with much space left to uncover some mysteries, something that would be interesting not only for us but for a broad audience who could all gain something from it. A win-win situation. Furthermore, since we specialize in visual effects, we saw in lucid dreaming a chance to use many different effects and thereby produce a documentary short with exciting and beautiful shots which haven’t been shown this way in any other documentary about lucid dreaming before.
Timo Hanczuk: While lucid dreaming, you make use of all your senses. Smell, sight, hearing – all of them are attached to charged emotions. To us film is the one and only medium which is able to trigger the same emotions: it can make us laugh, cry and give us a feeling of anxiety, fear and excitement. We lose track of time, we get lost in the film itself – all of this simply through fascinating imagery and sound.
And this is what we want for our audience. We want to scare them, and make them laugh just a little afterwards, while being astonished by the beauty and the strangeness of what they see.
Julia Kuhn: One of the stories which touched all of us was one of your nightmares, Clare. The one in which you were on the beach and suddenly this massive tidal wave approached. You were scared. You thought you had to run for your life. Until you became lucid and instantly you were able to appreciate the moment: this great amount of energy of nature, how the sun sparkled on the tips of the wave. You said you took a big leap to jump on the wave. Then you began to surf it, right from the top to the bottom, dancing all the way along. This is a perfect example of how lucid dreaming gives you a chance to meet with your fears and rather than running from them, learn how to solve and live with them and turn them into something beautiful.
You’re right – transforming fear into empowerment is one of the most magical things about dream lucidity. I tend to get tidal wave dreams reflecting upheaval and change in my life: as a recurring dream image it’s easy to recognise that I’m dreaming again when I find a tidal wave bearing down on me!
How do you and the team decide which lucid dreams to bring to life through film?
Timo Hanczuk: This is one of the hardest choices to make in this production. We have A LOT of amazing stories but are only able to use very little of them for the movie itself. Since it is a documentary about lucid dreaming we decided to focus on stories which contain one of the two main points of the art: Either the moment in which you become lucid or the moment in which you take control over your dream knowingly.
We haven’t finalized yet which stories we are going to use for the film, since of course some of the stories will be harder and more expensive to realize than others. So we’re still waiting for the results of our Crowdfunding Campaign to see what’s possible.
Timo Hanczuk: Well, of course the overall fact that you can do anything while lucid dreaming is very attractive! I mean – being able to fly and do all the crazy stuff you wouldn’t be able to do in waking life sounds very tempting to me. But since I believe that our sub-conscious reveals itself in our dreams, I think that the best part about lucid dreaming is the chance to communicate with it and deal with whatever is revealed: be it something in the form of a nightmare or you talking to a dream person to get answers. Any way which will help you to cleanse oppressed emotions and incidents of your past is a good way to help people.
Julia Kuhn: No matter who we talked to about the project, instantly everyone was interested in the topic. Which makes sense: lucid dreaming is something special. And it’s something that everybody is able to learn. It’s something that opens up a whole lot of new possibilities to everyone.
It just takes time to spread the word about it. But we know that the more people hear about it, the more they will be willing to give it a go, especially since now lucid dreaming is scientifically proven and books and videos lead you through the steps on how to learn it. And I mean: Who wouldn’t want to become a lucid dreamer and be able to feel the freedom of being able to do anything in a world that just feels as realistic as our own?
Julia Kuhn: We all agree that the best thing about it is to work with such amazing footage. We filmed the interviews already and were overwhelmed by what we heard. Afterwards the whole team came together again to go through the six hours of footage and again we were fascinated by the stories. It’s so much fun to listen to it and be fully captivated by what we hear.
When it comes to something negative there’s little we can think of so far. Of course as mentioned earlier, it’s sad we can’t use all the stories for the documentary and it’s annoying that we depend on money so much when it comes to which stories we can realize. But so far everything is going quite well and we know with the support of the people who believe in us, we’ll be able to produce a beautiful documentary short.