Dryland is the story of a young swimmer’s attempt to work through her trauma in the water, trauma brought about by her mother’s attempted suicide. It is an event that has created a breakdown of communication in their home. The discomfort placed on family communication as well as the social stigma of a situation such as this. Brian remarks, “Working with Liv on Dryland was fantastic. This story was very personal to her so I could see the importance on getting it done right. This film touches on the social issues of dealing with depression and mental health. After an attempted suicide, there is an inability to communicate about how a person honestly feels. When attempting to recreate this subject matter, it was so important to do extensive research on real life experiences. Liv really understood what it’s like to go through such trauma and managed to direct the actors so that they gave incredible performances.” With both Colliander and Mancini so intent on evoking the feeling of this theme in a very personal sense, chances were good that this goal would be achieved, but it was not without its hurdles. While the swimming competitions called for a very specific location, a number of young actors, and specialized equipment like the underwater crane, both budgetary and safety concerns exceeded the normal production levels. Discussing his approach, Brian states, “From the very beginning we knew that the locations in this film needed to match tonally. We didn’t have the funding to fully build any sets thus we needed to go out and hunt down places that we felt matched. The main issue was that sometimes the best places would be way out of budget or unavailable for when we needed to shoot. The hardest location to lock down was the Celes King III Swimming Pool. The pool had a very full schedule and we couldn’t interfere with the normal operations of the pool. This forced us to be very creative and maximize the amount of time we could afford. The entire team felt that Celes King III Swimming Pool looked so unique when compared with other pools. We wanted to give our film a sense of uniqueness while still seeming normal. When shooting at a public pool we needed to work with Citywide Aquatics, Film Park Office, and FilmLA. It’s important to keep everyone informed of everything we wanted to do. In this location we had to create a full competitive swim meet. This included lots of background actors, stunts, body doubles, swimmers, judges, lifeguards, and we also brought in a giant underwater crane.” Mancini continues to discuss his safety approach by revealing, “It’s so important to set up a very specific plan of approach for each shooting day. I like to make sure that everyone is on the same page. We hold mandatory safety meetings before any dangerous situation to lower all chances of anything going wrong. We also hire specific crew (i.e. Studio Teachers, Lifeguards, Medics, Special FX supervisors, etc.) and use their expertise in getting the shot we want in the safest way possible. Once I had the proper individuals on set it became much less stressful and everything moved nicely. Every production is a different monster and can have either a smaller or bigger footprint. The number one responsibility is to make sure everyone can do his or her job safely. When spending large amounts of money on a single production day, there is the pressure to get all the shots needed to edit the film. It’s important to notice if the shooting plan isn’t realistic and change the plan so that no dollar is going waste. In these situations, it’s crucial that the crew and cast are being utilized appropriately and not taken advantage of.”
The relationship between writer/director Liv Prior Colliander and producer Brian Mancini on Dryland is indicative of the respect and mutual admiration of all professionals involved in this film. When telling a story as emotionally cumbersome and yet, capable of potentially assisting others who have faced similar obstacles, it seems that this relationship is not only beneficial but critical in bringing the filmmaker’s vision to fruition.