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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Edition No 912 
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TAYLOR, FINN: Dream with the Fishes

LIFE AND DEATH INFORM THIS DREAM

A man called Finn talks about the fishes that made his film, to PAUL FISCHER.

It's hard to imagine, but Dream With The Fishes, the acclaimed low-budget, dark comedy/drama is autobiographical on the part of the film's first-time writer/director Finn Taylor, he explains from his northern California home. "When I was 19, I contemplated suicide and attempted to hold up a drug store", the director confesses, matter-of-factly.

Which means that the central character in his Dream with the Fishes, Terry, is closer to his creator that you might think. Terry (David Arquette) tries to muster the courage to jump off a bridge, but his appointment with death is postponed, when a young man named Nick (Brad Hunt) intervenes. Nick, who has only a few weeks to live due to an unnamed fatal condition, offers to help Terry end it all in a less painful way if Terry will help him fulfill some of his lifelong fantasies. Among these aspirations are a nude bowling match with hookers; dropping acid while driving; a visit to an aquarium; naked armed robbery; and a return home to confront old passions and demons.

"Going through that experience kind of gave me a new perspective on life."

Like Terry's own life, Taylor isn't exactly sure why at that particular point in his life suicide became a serious option. "I don't know if you can pinpoint it to any one moment. But in an attempt to sort of travel around, I was already writing. I ended up in New Jersey waiting for a job on a ship that was not coming in, and I was working 80 hours a week moving furniture for this awful guy. At that point I'd been pretty straight, not having done much in terms of drugs and alcohol, then one night I decided to try drinking and I ended up having a full gallon of Carlo Rossi red wine." From there, attempted suicide. Clearly, the fact that the suicide bid failed, was somewhat pleasing to the then teenager. "I was pretty much instantaneously happy when I was alive. Going through that experience kind of gave me a new perspective on life."

"I went back and revisited many of these places where these events actually took place."

Twenty years later, writing this script was a cathartic experience for the debut film maker, not only in his development of Terry, but also the dying Nick. "He was actually based on a close friend of mine who has since died. The most cathartic part about doing this film was when it came to the press tour for the release of the film around the United States. I went back and revisited many of these places where these events actually took place, for the first time in 20 years." Knowing how personal a film Fishes really is, it's not nearly as depressing as one might imagine.

"I wanted a very specific tone, and didn't want this to be a maudlin film. My experience, which also involved helping MY friend living out HIS fantasies, was heightened senses all around in terms of humour and a sense of adventure, all of which I wanted to capture." In casting his film, Taylor wasn't necessarily after an actor who bore a physical resemblance to the young Finn, but he was fairly certain he knew why David Arquette ended up with the pivotal role. "He is the right person. In reality, he has his emotions on his sleeve, and is a nervous, reclusive kind of a guy, but on the flip side he's also completely insane, so he possessed both sides of Terry's arc."

"I really wanted the film to be ABOUT something, and at the same really entertaining."

Despite the film dealing with a short time in the lives of two tragic characters, Taylor insists that the film is far from pessimistic. "There's a lot of dark and cynical humour in the film, but at the same time, without getting too schmalzy, I took it to a place where there is a lot of growth, or heart. I didn't want to have one of those films that had so much of its tongue in the cheek, that it lets everybody get blown away at the end. I really wanted the film to be ABOUT something, and at the same really entertaining."



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Director Finn Taylor
"When I was 19, I contemplated suicide and attempted to hold up a drug store"


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"At that point I'd been pretty straight, not having done much in terms of drugs and alcohol, then one night I decided to try drinking and I ended up having a full gallon of Carlo Rossi red wine."

"The most cathartic part about doing this film was when it came to the press tour for the release of the film around the United States."

"I wanted a very specific tone, and didn't want this to be a maudlin film. My experience, which also involved helping MY friend living out HIS fantasies, was heightened senses all around in terms of humour and a sense of adventure, all of which I wanted to capture."







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