And Then I Woke Up is a short film from Writer/Director Chris Aran exploring the conflicted certainty of life purpose and the ambiguity of paternal ties. Waking drenched and shaken, Prentiss must trace a path from his past to an uncertain future…
In some ways continuing the somewhat darkened psychology of his previous One Day in January, this film is perhaps a clever challenge to Aran’s audience to fill in the gaps in their own lives and determine for themselves whether that future is an ending, or a new beginning.
And Then I Woke Up | Story Line
The story follows Prentiss, a researcher lost in fascination and ambition. Upon receiving a long-awaited fellowship, he abandons all for the prize of scientific discovery, and in the process loses sight of the things in life that are most important. When his project falls apart, he packs his bags and begins a journey home – until a turn of events gives him a second chance, in a way he least expects it…
In fact, the film was originally written as a short story intended for inclusion in Aran’s first book, Awake While Dreaming, and continues themes both there, and in his next book already in progress.
And Then I Woke Up | Cast and Crew
The role of Prentiss, played by Prentiss Thompson, is supported both in skill and conflicted allegory by Douglas Walker as his father, and Corine Donovan as the mother who delivers a subdued ensemble performance that shines the spotlight on the father-son relationship. Certainly not least, Sean Patrick Hopkins creates a synergy and counterpoint that amplifies Thompson’s performance, and becomes an internal dialog for Prientiss and the link to that dialog in the audience themselves.
George Manatos’ creative editing brings the pacing and story to life, as does Ahmet Sesigurgil with beautiful cinematography that alternates between the supernatural and mundane reality, again magnified by the contrasting saturated and desaturated color palettes fine tuned by Guillermo Tuñon.
An experimental sound score from Martin Bayless attempts to avoid music altogether unless it morphs out of natural sounds in the cinematic environment, like cicadas chipping like static electrifying the open field Prentiss finds himself.
The most important cast member in the movie is by far the audience.
And Then I Woke Up is a film that belies that importance in being sensuously appealing in a way that tempts overlooking its deeper meaning. What that might (or should) be is impossible to say, because it is designed to be different for everybody.
A lot of ground is covered in its short 22 minutes. And while some directors might have succumbed to conventional character development techniques that would have needlessly extended the running time, Aran provocatively stops short to give the audience its homework; its own character development.
There will be many great and worthy movies that follow a more traditional approach. For those that do their homework however, And Then I Woke Up is intended to be a neutral window for all of us to remain awake in our own lives and make them worth living on our own terms, whatever those terms might be.
It is a cinematic window of questions, not answers; and second, third and even fourth chances.
Because we need them so dearly…