For any parent, particularly one who blames himself for his daughter’s death when he couldn’t save her from drowning, hope of any kind springs eternal. That’s the premise behind a brilliant new independent film called “Imagine,” written, produced and directed by Jahanara Saleh and Jonathan Steven Green (Austin James Green was also co-writer and director of photography). Actor Scott Wolf plays a paramedic named John Morris, who feels numb and helpless in trying to overcome his guilt, and hoping to save his crumbling relationship with his wife Kate, played by actress Melissa Deppe Fischer. In an attempt to gain control of his life and his understanding of the universe, Morris experiments with digesting water that has been “charged” or influenced by specific thoughts, energy, emotions or concepts. As he does, he feels changes in the world around him. He hopes that continuously ingesting the water may even help him change history, and bring his daughter back to life.
The directors, who filmed the movie in just 12 days, started putting the project together in 2010, while Jahanara was finishing her work on a degree from the University of Utah. Though her career plan centers on teaching, filmmaking for both her and the Green brothers has also become a passion.
“We entered a film competition called The Doorpost Film Project,” Jonathan recalled. “Ours was one of 20 scripts chosen initially to compete for a $40,000 mentorship. Though our script wasn’t one of the final five chosen, we got great feedback and decided we’d go ahead and make the film ourselves.”
“I think there’s a good universal message in this film,” Jahanara said. “It’s a really beautiful premise—that if something like this is possible, then anything is possible. The idea of taking modern basic science and embellishing it, that because we are all made of water we might be able to change its structure with our thoughts, makes for a very unique story.”
Both Wolf and Fischer, neither of whom were familiar with Emoto’s work beforehand, were caught up instantly in the screenplay.
“I was pretty much done with acting, but a friend of mine brought me the script and wanted me to read it,” said Melissa, who has starred on several TV projects, including the series Everwood. “I got about 10 pages into it, scrambled to call my friend and asked him if they’d cast my character yet. I was very excited.”
Wolf, who was living in Utah at the time when the film was shot there (in June 2011), was equally impressed from the beginning with the screenplay.
“It’s a great piece of material,” he said. “The subject matter felt very unique. I did love the way that the metaphysical element is blended into this story. I like to believe in that kind of thing.”
Both lead actors are also parents—Wolf and his wife Kelley just had their second child in November and Fischer and her husband have two children—making the script even more powerful.
“We had actually just had our first child (before production of the film began), so the story of a parent losing a child took on a whole new level of meaning for me,” Scott said. Melissa added that “the script was so human, so all about our experience and how we feel inside.”
And they loved the freedom the screenplay gave them. “It didn’t spoon-feed things,” Scott said. “Ultimately as an actor, you want to feel there’s space for your interpretation.”
“What I loved about the script was that everything was understated,” Melissa added. “So many things were not said that you knew the character was thinking. The most amazing thing as an actor is when you can hold something back, when you can’t say the words but the audience can see you going through the emotions. This was an actor’s screenplay.”
The producers just finished the final editing, and are now submitting the film to festivals around the country. Its initial screenings should start this spring.
“Whoever sees us asks us the same question… ‘What is the possibility of water?’” Jonathan said. “Our challenge was to make this story concept entertainment, and our tool was the filmmaking.”
You can learn more about “Imagine” on the film’s website at http://www.imaginetheshortfilm.com. The producers also have a Facebook page for the film.
By Tom Haraldsen