The Toronto International Film Festival opened its festivities with Rian Johnson's time travel tale Looper (read our review here). The buzz has multiplied (serious understatement), and while critics are praising the Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt-starring story, we wanted to take a look back at Johnson's earlier work that seems to have inspired his new film. Johnson wrote The Psychology of Dream Analysis before he made his neo-noir, high school thriller Brick. It was an idea that he and longtime collaborator and cinematographer Steve Yedlin had been chatting about while attending the University of Southern California, making short films, and trying to get into the school's renowned film-production program. Johnson told website The Verge more about the DV-shot movie narrated by May actress and filmmaker Angela Bettis:
"Steve and I, we had just been thinking of nothing but how to get money to make a movie for so long. I decided, 'This isn’t healthy. Let’s just start making some movies.' And so, that’s when we made that short The Psychology of Dream Analysis. We just went out on a weekend to shoot something. And it was that exact same phase when I wrote Looper, to make the same way... we were just going to shoot it on weekends in L.A.
I think it was at the same time that I was reading all of Philip K. Dick’s books, so that probably played into it somewhat. But just that basic premise I got down on paper way back then. And then it was just a few years ago, after Bloom... it was really appealing just because tonally, it was very different than Bloom. I feel like I can’t even really remember the writing process, but I really feel like fairly quickly the themes that ended up expanding it from a short into a feature attached themselves to it. And it was, you know, we’re off to the races with it."
In the short, a bookshop clerk spends her downtime studying for a psychology course. She begins to shift her focus to the subject of dreams, and soon realizes that she's never even seen herself in a dream, because she's been having someone else's dreams all her life — those of a mysterious man in his late 30s. Eventually she meets this man in real life and embarks on a relationship with him. She dreams his dreams of her — finally seeing herself as an idealized and mesmerizing "goddess" — but as his affection for her wanes, things change. It's a great look back at the development of the same ideas surrounding Looper — concepts that shifted slowly over time as Johnson formed his own dream mythology. Check out the clip below.