“Dream Girl” is a short film created and directed by BYU-Idaho student, Derek Romrell, about 18 months ago. Since its premiere, the movie has received some notable recognition, winning multiple awards at the inaugural Grand Teton Film Festival and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences – 2019 Northwest Collegiate Awards.
The idea came to Romrell when he was 17, after having a crush on a girl in high school. Occasionally, this girl would pop into his subconscious, but this “dream girl” seemed a little bit better than the one in real life. This led to some interesting observations on reality versus expectation, how people perceive relationships, and ultimately how/why they turn out the way they do.
This experience sparked an interest in movies dealing with whimsy and dreams, both literal and metaphorical. His favorite films include “Inception,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “La La Land,” which were direct inspirations for the short film. Like such films, the ending of Dream Girl was left open.
“That is the beautiful thing about art though, right? We are all allowed to interpret things however we want to,” Romrell said.
Putting his idea to the page, Romrell signed up for a screenwriting class at BYU-Idaho. He spoke with Professor Janine Gilbert about his idea and developed a feature-length script that semester. However, he’s not keen on anyone reading it yet.
“I have a 120-page version of the script sitting at my house… it’s a first draft, and I don’t want it to see the light of day.” he said
After finishing the script, he took a short film class and decided to condense “Dream Girl” into a short film. It wasn’t easy distilling the story into the class’s required eight minutes. The first cut of it clocked in at 20 minutes, and he wasn’t expecting much recognition after the final result.
“We never…knew that it was going to do much past the class, besides maybe going to one or two festivals, but the more people [were] involved…the more the quality enhanced,” he said.
Romrell knows the project was a success due to his crew of 30+ experienced individuals. “You can never underestimate the value of a team that knows more than you,” he said. Derek explained how some first-time filmmakers feel the need to control an entire project: spearhead all the ideas, create shot lists, initiate production design, and so on. But he feels that the film industry is less about powerful individuals and more about groups of talented people working together to achieve common goals.
Romrell feels happy about the awards Dream Girl received, but he takes more joy in the filmmaking process, particularly in learning how to effectively transmit personal messages to an unfamiliar audience.
In the past year-and a half, Romrell has worked on several film projects. His most recent credit is co-writing another student short film called, “Will of The West,” where he also worked as the 1st Assistant Director. He’s currently moving to Salt Lake City with his wife, where he plans to write another draft of Dream Girl, outline a 12-part mini-series, and work on co-writing another feature script. Past that, he looks forward to building his filmmaking connections in the Salt Lake Valley, as well as Los Angeles.
You can watch “Dream Girl” by clicking here.