April 4, 2019

Do Animals Dream? : Shian Grace’s “A Scrapbook of Dreams”

Woman stares at geese flying over York University campus.
Scrapbook of Dreams, a documentary by media art student Shian Grace.


Featured on YorkFlix – our brand new online streaming platform for student films made at York – is A Scrapbook of Dreams ( 2018)  by Shian Grace. Scrapbook of Dreams was a 1st-year film project for director Shian Grace.  We spoke with her about her inspiration and her process.

How would you summarize your film?

Headshot of Director Shian Grace
Director Shian Grace

Animals all over the planet can sleep, and some would argue that they can dream too. The future of sleep and dreams may be hard to predict, but what do we know today?

What inspired you to make this film/tell this story?
Before University, I was interested in the science of how dreams work. In my first year Making Media course we discussed surveillance and the politics of who gets to see what, and then our final project was to make a short documentary. I chose to pose the question, “Do animals Dream?”

What was a creative breakthrough, major lesson or challenge you overcame?
I learned many new skills from making this film, including how to write and send out appearance release forms to subjects you want in your film. At first, I wanted a rigid feel to the film, and I started filming my interviews with a hand-held camera. By the end, I realized it wasn’t working, and switched to a tripod to keep my subjects and therefore content steady. I also learned that there is little you can control when filming your subjects, and environments, and that is what makes it exciting and fresh.

Is there anyone from your film crew that you want to collaborate with again and why?
The documentary was a solo project because I wanted to see what I could do on my own, but for other films, and for future documentaries, I always have a passionate, reliable crew.

What advice or tips about resources can you give to York student film makers to make the most of their university film experience?

Stay determined through the tough times, and remind yourself why you are making this film, and telling this story. Filmmaking comes with many unexpected, yet interesting challenges, so a clear and achievable goal is key.