Filmmakers often say that their latest project is the culmination of a dream. For Brooke Grondin of Buxton, this is doubly true.
“I’m a lucid dreamer,” explained Grondin, whose planned, crafted and Maine-shot series “The City of Children” is currently in pre-production. “Over the past 20 years or so, there are maybe four dreams that I can’t remember. The other hundreds of dreams are so vivid that I could draw them for you.
For Grondin, “La Cité des enfants” is the dream that never ended, as she says she has revisited this same strange, dystopian landscape on and off for the past seven years.
“Another scene was happening and I was writing it. I have a box where I kept all these papers, and stitched them together with additional scenes. In the end, I felt this unquenchable urge to write everything down,” she said. “I knew the story had to be told.”
That dream is now getting even closer to reality, as Grondin is currently launching what she envisions to be a multi-season series and is seeking funding through the series’ website (thecityofchildren.com) to film the pilot, right here in Maine. As anyone who really knows Maine will tell you, there’s plenty of varied and cinematically stunning terrain to choose from in the state, and Grondin hopes to shoot Buxton’s story in his own neighborhood, with necessary forays into a other, plot-specific Maine locations.
The story of the series is, like all the best dreams, always locked in the dreamer’s head, with Grondin being particularly careful about what potential viewers can expect. What we do know, however, is suitably nightmarish. Set in the year 2021, the story begins with a group of high school kids heading to the mountains on a journey of survival, only to return to an inexplicably changed hometown.
“There’s an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) shutting down their city,” Grondin explained, “all so that a regime could spring up overnight and take over.” From there, Grondin only wants to share a few tantalizing details: a dystopian world, a city of ice and snow, a 20-year time jump where adult students embark on a journey to discover why and where all the the children of the town have been kidnapped.
Grondin says, “What I will say is that not all electronics in the outside world are turned off – the opposite extreme. The children have been taken somewhere and are alive and well, and we find out why the townspeople couldn’t fight back, thanks to something that allowed them to be oppressed for so long.
So far so dystopian, Grondin citing comparisons to popular sci-fi/fantasy franchises such as “Game of Thrones” and “The Hunger Games” for reference. As for the nature of the crisis that triggers its protagonists’ arduous and mysterious journey, Grondin remains circumspect, stating only that its story “wasn’t inspired by a real-world event” and that the series would take full advantage of it. everything Maine has to offer, location-wise.
“The whole world wants to leave Buxton and travel north,” Grondin said, noting his plans to shoot in Acadia National Park and elsewhere — in the heart of a Maine winter (see: “ice town and of snow”). Additionally, Grondin’s plans include approaching Maine towns (expect a call, Buxton town reunion) for extra casting and some Maine-specific product placements as his beleaguered heroes promise to collect certain products made in Maine in their adventures. The series’ website promises on-screen activities and product integration for backers, Grondin stating, “We want every business in Maine to be seen, heard and talked about – otherwise, (the heroes) won’t have only to take things from the rest of the outside world.”
It’s a big business. (Grondin estimates the pilot will require a budget of over $100,000.) But, learning Grondin’s story, you get the feeling that the first Warren-born filmmaker knows how to get things done. Explaining how she spent her own high school years homeless on the streets of Portland, making a living cooking at various Portland restaurants, Grondin touts her ability to persevere, eventually becoming a renowned chef. Now, she says, it’s finally time to turn her literal dream into a tangible reality.
“Life has taken a different turn. I had children, I had a house by the river, and now I have to write what I have dreamed of for seven years.
The City of Children’s web page includes testimonials from its cast of up-and-coming actors (look for IMDb credits on everything from “Blue Bloods” to “Sons of Anarchy”), all of whom speak at length about their enthusiasm for directing the Grondin’s dream. Grondin herself does not hesitate to affirm that it is the quality of her screenplay that has attracted foreign professional actors and what she claims to be a major broadcaster of her vision.
“I told the world about my show, and they flocked,” Grondin says, explaining, “They asked, begged to be on it, with some sending emails saying, ‘Please say- me that there’s room left”. As for the next steps, Grondin is already hard at work on his second series, a low-budget Christian-themed project titled “Hall of Faith”, which follows a similar dystopian theme, and may provide some clues as to the plot of “The City of Children”. As Grondin says of the journey of its protagonists throughout the series, “The real answer is more spiritual. I prayed to God to do so now, and all credit goes to him for raising him where he wants him to be.
Yet earthly inspiration also plays a big part in Grondin’s journey, as she says of her own dream project: “I want people to know that no matter what your current situation is, there’s a future and a hope to do something more and follow your dreams to the end. I slept in Deering Oaks Park in the winter, became a top chef, and quit to follow it. Concludes the lucid dreamer and aspiring filmmaker, “I want to help put the spark of hope in others to pursue their dreams.”
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