Over the past month or so, you may have noticed a film crew in town, rushing to stay on schedule between snowstorms. The film is called, “I Dream Too Much,” and the director is a local, Katie Cokinos, with a cast of Hollywood stars and locals mixing it up in familiar Saugerties haunts like Dig Boutique and Mother Earth’s Storehouse.
The story centers around a young college graduate who comes to Saugerties to care for her grandmother, who has broken her foot. During the course of the film, she visits many Saugerties landmarks, eats at local restaurants and gains an appreciation of the town.
Eden Brolin (“Ruby Sparks,” daughter of Josh Brolin) plays the central character, Dora Welles. Dianne Ladd (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More” as well as more than 100 movie and TV roles) plays Dora’s great aunt Vera, who lives in Saugerties. Danielle Brooks (Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson in “Orange is the New Black”) plays Abby, an aspiring singer who works in the Dig Boutique. Christina Rouner (“Fur,” “The Skeptic,” and many TV roles) plays Dora’s mother – the person she really wants to get away from – and James McCaffrey plays Nicky Summers, a music producer making a record in Woodstock.
While the film’s cast includes several well-known actors, the town itself is, in a way, the star. Cokinos included many local people and places in the film. “One of the great things about shooting in our backyard is getting to pull in our friends, like the band Three, and my friend Guy Reed, who is a poet. This film has a poetry arc to it, so it was wonderful to showcase him – and to shoot in wonderful locations like Dig and places I frequent. It helped me as a first-time director to be in such familiar places. We shot at the Lighthouse, I go there about once a month; we shot at Mother Earth, I’m there almost every other day. John Cassavetes is famous for saying ‘shoot what you know.’”
Cokinos considered casting all locals.
“Originally we were thinking, ‘We’re shooting in our own back yard, so let’s cast locally.’ Our executive producer, Richard Linklater [“Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunrise”], suggested we call our casting director, Judy Henderson, and that took us to a whole different level. I don’t mean to take anything away from local people, but working with Diane Ladd was just so incredible, with her wealth of ideas about our character, and her years of experience, was just like… wow.”
Brolin said she was attracted to the film because she found the characters interesting.
“They are extraordinary. They’re people that you know in everyday life, but there’s a reason that they are a character. When I read Dora – you see a lot of films these days, especially in indie films, and they’re kind of the weird characters, but they’re actually cool. But when I saw Dora, I asked, is she cool? Or is she actually really weird or kind of a dork? I like the script, it’s really simple and sweet.”
Serious work on the film started about two years ago, when her husband Alex Rappoport, also a filmmaker, suggested that “we work on a film in our own backyard,” said Cokinos. “During the writing process, the character said, ‘I dream too much,’ and I said, ‘that would make a great title.’”
Cokinos said she’s attracted to characters in transition, and her heroine, who has just graduated from college, is trying to decide on her next steps. “It’s very daunting; it was daunting for me, and I see it with my niece. I’m also interested in characters who are Don Quixote types, who want the world to be like this, but they are offered [something else]. I find that to be a nice internal conflict.”
Cokinos said she completed the first draft in the spring of 2012. “The draft we’re working from for the film is the 30th draft.”
Cokinos, originally from Texas, worked as a location manager, headed the Austin Film Society and wrote and directed short films. This is her first full-length film. Cokinos and her husband moved to New York City before moving to Saugerties.
“We came here because of John Henson [son of Muppets founder Jim Henson, who recently passed away at age 48]. He and Alex were good friends, and Alex would come up and visit John with a group of friends. When we started having kids, we thought we needed a bit more room, so we said, ‘Let’s check out Saugerties.’ It’s such a great town.”
The filming wrapped up last week with scenes in New York City. Post-production will take about six months. The next step would be to enter it in film festivals – Woodstock is high on the list – and it should hit the regular theaters in about a year.