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Daydream Therapy, an Artist's Journey

About the Author

Signature image for L.A. Rebellion is a still from Ashes & Embers (1982)
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

This is a group blog for Prof. Allyson Nadia Field's Fall 2011 graduate seminar, FTV 218: Culture, Media & Society: The "L.A. Rebellion" of Black Filmmakers, which looks at the films in the larger contexts of African American filmmaking, race in American cinema, and the social, political, and cultural environments of the films’ production.

Bernard Nicolas screened his short film Daydream Therapy at the Billy Wilder Theater on Saturday, October 8th. Nicolas participated in a Q & A after the screenings and described his journey as an artist, his inspiration for the film, and his more recent career as a therapist.

Daydream therapy (1977)

Daydream Therapy was the first film project Nicolas had ever made and was both a combination of careful planning and luck. Nicolas told the audience that he had made a very detailed shot list for each shot he needed to make his movie, but didn’t have a plan for how to get those shots. One of my favorite anecdotes was how he managed to get the ship to be in his film. Nicolas had seen a ship that looked like what he wanted sailing in Malibu roughly a month prior to his shoot. On his shoot day he drove to the beach with his 8 millimeter camera in hopes of the ship passing him by; as luck would have it, the ship passed him while he was driving and he was able to capture it. The new directing graduate students at UCLA will be shooting their 1st projects in November and I imagine many of them will experience happy accidents similar to the one Nicolas described.

Nicolas explained how the film functioned as a form of therapy for him. He used Daydream Therapy as a constructive outlet for his political anger. Nicolas, now a licensed therapist, continues to see the therapeutic power of art and uses film with his patients to assist in their own therapy. —Moana Sherrill