Barbara Browning. Dreams in films. Lions.

Here is something I am excited about: Barbara Browning’s first published novel, The Correspondence Artist, is coming out in February. I think it’s a unique, deeply modern book. Also sexy. Perhaps some of you would enjoy it. My opinion goes beyond the fact that Barbara is my best friend. We met in college. She appeared in my earliest, experimental films, usually naked. With her permission I will post some of those. They are very different from what I do now; my interests are earthier now. My first impulse for making films was to actually capture dreams I’d had. For me, this was magic. Eventually story-telling came into it. Still now, I often have dreams woven into films, in order to get deeper into a character, but I am careful not to make them boring the way dreams are when people tell you about theirs. I liked the way Pippa’s dream of the lion turd in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee came out because it was a little bit funny. The day we shot that was an amazing day. That lion was a last minute victory. Week after week of shooting, Lemore Syvan, producer, said we couldn’t afford the lion. I looked into lion skins, stuffed lions. Nothing was working. Then at the last minute, Lemore found an unemployed lion in upstate New York, and she got a good deal for him. Just shows you should never give up. For all of you who are writing out there: I am with you. It’s hard. As the radio announcer called Hector here in Ireland says every morning: keep it lit. and ps, I will look up The Optimist’s Daughter, thank you. I  haven’t heard of it. I am always looking for books to adapt. I think I will probably keep the books and the films separate for a while…

4 Responses to “Barbara Browning. Dreams in films. Lions.”

  • Johannah Henderson:

    Thankyou Rebecca.

    Today is a strange day. The snow stopped falling sometime this afternoon.
    I never know when I will move through a major portal but it happens from time to time.
    Many things have happened today. I spend much of my time researching artists – I am always looking. Today, I spent much of the day watching your interviews with Charlie Rose and The big think website.
    You’ve really helped me out and you wouldn’t even know it so that’s why I’m writing this message.

    I used to paint my dreams. The struggle seemed to mark and end to that but it was shortlived. After I stopped painting them I started looking at the possibility of making them into films. My life takes many twists and turns. I am always moving – in my mind and I have the virus.

    I feel validated now to do my work and persevere. Strange but true. I respect your hard-work and perseverance and it’s influencing me to begin seriously validating myself as an artist. Unfortunately I just have not come across other women that have the virus or even talk about it. Sometimes I just need to hear the words – magic happens. Perhaps that is why I write.
    I don’t want to write cheesy things here – although I could probably keep writing this message for a while. Many things to say.

    Perhaps there is no other way to say it really – You have influenced me greatly. It’s a pivotal point for me to discover there is a like-minded creature roaming this planet, doing her work. The virus, I don’t feel so sickly anymore. I feel like I can stop kidding myself and admit that I’m an artist.

    I will have to check out your other films.


  • Johannah Henderson:

    Saw “The private lives of Pippa Lee” – It was a tapestry of life. Beautifully woven with each strand showing that our lives are pictures in the making, battles that take the strangest of twists:

    I was told the other day that Boudicca’s people were so convinced she would win her last battle that they rallied in their carts to watch her victory. When she was defeated they were so ill prepared that they could not evacuate quick enough and were in turn slaughtered.

    It was a beautiful tapestry – The film moved into the future. I saw it as a snap-shot of how every moment in life encompasses the past, the future and the present.

    A masterpiece of time

  • Johannah Henderson:

    Rebecca –

    I am developing a story. The bones are there and it’s becoming larger than I could have ever expected. I guess thats the way things go!

    What I want to do is start channeling the ideas into a screenplay format – this is calling out to me like sirens.

    I wonder if you could recommend any literature that would help me develop and structure the raw materials into the bones of a film?
    At present it’s all a very exiting swirl of possibilities and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. I know there is literature out there but I wanted to ask you for a heads up on what is most useful.

    Any advice?



  • Donna Atkins:

    I’ll make sure some copies of Barbara Browning’s book make it into my bookstore; I’ll read it and pass the news along to our booksellers.

    I love so many scenes in Pippa and the tone and pacing really move me and make the story feel real for me, almost like a memory of my own or a memory of one of my own dreams from years ago.

    Not to belabor the Eudora Welty thread, but she writes in her memoir and in many letters to her friends (including Elizabeth Bowen, Reynolds Price, and Kenneth Millar) published since her death, about memory and how the “confluence” of all past events in our lives inform and define who we are.

    “….the greatest confluence of all is that which makes up the human memory–the
    individual human memory…. Here time, also, is subject to confluence. The
    memory is a living thing–it too is in transit. But during its moments, all
    that is remembered joins, and lives–the old and the young, the past and
    the present, the living and the dead.” – Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings.

    Much of her fiction centers around a memory for a character or characters, or is born in her own memories (I’m learning more and more about her life and what was going on in it while she was writing the fiction I’ve read since I was a young teen.)

    I’m realizing as I write this and think about it more, there is that common theme (for me at least) between Pippa and much of Welty’s fiction: self, informed and determined by memory, at times dreamlike.

    Just loving it all.

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