The art of film is to not just toss images on the screen — as so many aspiring indie filmmakers do. The craft of film is to embed your soul on the screen; to allow the audience to connect with your heart. Clark, the young filmmaker of Summer Daydream, comes to learn that lesson: he may not have ended up making the film that he wanted, but he made his film exactly the way it needed to be done. And Mitch Hudson and Stephen Dean, two local Lynchburg, Virginia, filmmakers opted to share their own youthful, filmmaking ambitions with their joint feature film debut — and made their film exactly the way it needed to be done.
As with any young boy, Clark’s greatly influenced by his father; a dad who infused Clark with the love of film courtesy of the purchase of a digital camera. And as any kid with a camera, Clark spends his summers making horror movies with his friends. Upon the loss of his father, and the financial strains that come with such a loss, it’s compounded by his mother recent job loss — that will uproot the family. To save his family’s home, he recruits his two best friends and a couple of first time amateur actors to enter a film contest with a $15,000 cash prize.
Mitch Hudson and Stephen Dean composed an insightful, calculated script; one free of the expected plot tropes. Sure, I could rat-a-tat-tat the story and plot spoil everything. What I will tell you is that I expected “dad” to reappear with helpful advice; he did not. I expected for Clark to discover his first summer crush; he didn’t. And that’s only two of the story’s “change up” examples; two that display the extra though put into the script that’s rises Summer Daydream above the horizons of a neat-little-bow feel-good Hallmark movie or other family-oriented tales. Mitch Hudson and Stephen Dean’s feature film debut is a film that’s impossible to give a bad review. Everything about their film is sheer perfection; from script, to its cast of solid teen and adult actors, to directing, to its cinematography: everything works. I challenge another critic — if they’re foolish enough to try — to find a flaw in it.
As I watched the valiant attempt by Clark and his friends to save his family’s home, as well as the retaining the memories of his father held within the walls of that home, my own heart drifted back to my own summers of youth as I watched the teen-oriented movies of the ’70s that aired weekly via ABC-TV’s Afterschool Special, CBS-TV’s Schoolbreak Special, and NBC-TV’s Special Treat. If you’ve read my reviews for the cream of the crop of those youth-oriented TV movies, such as The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon, Blind Sunday, Hewitt’s Just Different, New York City Too Far from Tampa Blues, and Portrait of a Teenage Shoplifter then you know how I feel about those films. And that’s the same feeling — of simpler, non-Internet stressed happier times — I had watching Summer Daydream.
I love this movie. It’s a movie that elicits nothing but respect.
Completed in 2018, Summer Daydream, then known as Technicolour Daydream (copyright issues over the use of “Technicolor,” even with the British-version of the word), traveled the usual festival rounds that all indie filmmakers journey. And the journey was a fruitful one, as Mitch Hudson and Stephen Dean’s feature film debut earned fifteen wins and ten nominations, such as winning the “Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film” at the 2019 Southern City Film Festival, “Best Screenplay in a Feature Film” at the 2019 World Music and Independent Film Festival, the “Saints Award for Best Feature” at the 2018 Saints and Sinners Film Festival, and “Best Feature” at the 2018 Southern States Indie Film Fest. Courtesy of Summer Hill Entertainment, U.S. and Canadian audiences finally got to enjoy this touching coming-of-age-story on DVD, Blu-ray, and across all major streaming services in the winter of 2020.
Summer Daydream now makes its March 2021 free-with-ads streaming debut on Tubi. You can learn more about the film on their official Facebook page. Other Summer Hill Entertainment releases we’ve recently enjoyed include Baby Frankenstein, Cicada, and Exorcism at 60,000 Feet.
Disclaimer: We did not receive a screener or a review request from the director or the distributor. We discovered this film on our own and truly enjoyed the movie.