Losing the Armor for an Interview with the Filmmakers of My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late

During FrightFest this year, filmmaking team Joshua and Harry Warren unleashed one of the best short films I’ve seen this year. Assuming his departure from battle, whether through fear or retreating during a loss, a knight stops in a small rotunda for a momentary respite. Catching his breath, face flushed with worry, he soon finds his nightmare is far from over, as his armor begins to attack him. My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late is an all-consuming short film that unfurls a feature’s worth of thematic material in under four minutes, but the terror, panic, and dread will last for months. Like an unforgettable dream, it digs around your cerebrum and forces you to confront the duality of armor attacking its wearer and the stress of a soldier in a fight he may not want to be a part of. 

Recently, I was provided with the fantastic opportunity to understand the film I kept replaying in my mind’s eye. Sitting down with My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late’s writer-director and producer, I was able to ask some important questions, including one fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail are already wondering.

You can watch the Interview in its entirety or read a transcript of the interview below. 

Sean Parker: So, this is obviously a very dark tale about a knight being consumed by his armor. My first question: were there ever any Monty Python jokes that this is but a flesh wound kind of thing? 

Joshua Warren: Pretty Much all day. 

SP: Good cause that was my initial reaction, yeah. 

JW: It Can’t be helped. Yeah, actually, we’ve kind of got a behind-the-scenes video like when we put this—when we do actually release it properly on the Internet and stuff. I’ll make sure you get a link to that cause the BTS is quite funny as well. 

SP: Yeah, I believe it. I absolutely believe it. So, third short film, the last two have been profoundly gothic and of a particular era. Do you guys have an affinity for film sets in this particular time period, or is this just a coincidence? 

JW: I think it’s coincidence.  

Poster for My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late shows an excessive and ornate group of hands protruding from a Knight's helmet

Harry Warren: Yeah, it seems to have just happened that way, really. We definitely have, I guess, in the whole spectrum of horror, gothics probably. We’re most drawn to the gothic above all else, and with the last short film that was extremely sort of folky Gothic, really, wasn’t it? And I think we have plans to just keep at it and just work with that aesthetic, whether it’s like a full gothic film or just like influences, but it’s definitely where our heart lies, isn’t it? 

JW: Yeah, definitely. I think just like, naturally, the Gothic tends to lend itself towards tales of antiquity. You know? Those kind of old myths and things like that. So, I think it’s in some ways it’s kind of a little bit simpler for us to go down that route rather than trying to modernize too much because, obviously, I feel like that takes a lot more suspension of belief to get to that point. So yeah, so the two kind of marry up, I think. 

HW: But as far as horror goes, I guess the one underlying factor of everything that I guess we have done and probably will do is just to kind of [capture] a sense of dread, really. That’s our main aim, isn’t it? 

SP: I noticed at the end of the film, My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late is based on a painting, Fever Dream of a Knight Devoured By His Armor, by Denis Forkas Kostromitin.  

JW: Yeah, he’s a Russian artist, yeah. And yeah, he’s a fantastic dude. 

HW: He stumbled across him a few years ago. Right? And this idea sort of came back then, and just we sat on it for a while. And, obviously, we’ve been in talks with him.  

JW: Yeah. Got in touch with him, and he was super happy for us to base that short off of that kind of inspiration leap, I suppose. And, yeah, so he’s been great.  

HW: But it was like it was a new area for us because we got some funding for this film from the British Film Institute. So, this was the first time we’d ever used anyone else’s work, so we had to make sure that everything was above board and we had permissions and stuff. And that was a bit of a worry that we weren’t gonna get the funding just because of that. But yeah, it all came through in the end. 

A knight sits with his head against a granite column

SP: So, what is it about the painting exactly that moved you to create the film? 

JW: Well, with all of Denny’s work, there’s this kind of melancholic darkness in there—in pretty much all of his work, I’d say—that sort of just taps into what I really like about imagery. And, I think, when we were first considering this kind of project, we were trying to think of things that were like would be very short, you know, like under the three-minute mark, and there was just something particular about that painting. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But it just felt like it was the right amount of length for that kind of thing.  

SP: There’s a lot of irony in the idea that something used for protection can turn against you. I noticed on your website, Josh, that it says, “While living in Leeds, his house got burgled, and all that was taken was two box sets, the Michael Haneke Collection and Battlestar Galactica.” First of all, I’m sorry that that happened to you, but the first thing that you see in the film is the knight sort of finding a safe place for a moment. Did that experience help shape the exposition of the film? 

JW: You know what? I’ve never thought back that far for it, but that’s probably… Yeah, I imagine so. I mean, it certainly is that idea of what’s supposed to protect you, even down to his armor as well. Without sounding too pretentious, it is a juxtaposition. It’s that he’s found this sort of temple folly, garden folly type thing. He thinks he’s out of the way of the battle and things he’s fleeing from, and all the way down to the fact that what he’s wearing is not safe either. So yeah, it probably did influence me at some point. It’s certainly like something that might feed into the work. So yeah. 

SP: How do you guys feel fate enters into that too? Because a lot can be inferred from the film about war and fate, [and] from the painting too. What do you hope the audience’s reactions are going to be after 4 minutes? 

A knight looks disaffected through his raised facemask

JW: I think, for me, it’s like a level of sort of anxiety or dread that they can’t quite put their finger on what it was exactly that gave them that feeling. I think it’s an emotional journey for me. I don’t know about you. 

HW: No, no, I feel the same way. Just, I think the crushing sense is just a good way of expressing these crushing pressures that we feel every day in any role that we take on, whatever our profession is. The knight just entered into that quite smoothly. But yeah, I think that it’s just the sort of everyday dread of just putting on your armor, or putting on your mask, or putting on something, and having to face up to, and step up to your duties and responsibilities and in turn having that then crush you. Like literally in this case. Yeah, I think [it] could resonate well. We want it to resonate with people and on every level, I think. It just felt like this was the medieval knight—that making him a medieval knight was just the best way. A great way of showcasing that.  

JW: You know, it’s obvious that. They come from chivalry and duty and honor and all these kinds of things.

HW: …And bravery and the idea of being noble. Yeah. The things that you have to step up to and make yourself into. And there’s so much pressure involved, but as it applies at every level of life, I feel. And so, I think if someone comes away having felt and understood his dread and anxiety and that little crushing pressure, then, yeah, I think it’s a job well done. 

SP: To sort of loop this back around to your first work, Shell, your first short film. That has a lot of similar thematic detail in it as well, with what you guys just said there. Does that play out a lot when you guys are writing and creating things, [do] you try to take that and roll with it? 

JW: I think so, yeah. I mean, I suppose it’s kind of horror in every sense.  

HW: The everyday horror. 

JW: It’s the everyday horror. Yeah, it’s like the horror of the psyche as well. 

HW: Personally, my favorite horror film is The Shining, and I think what I like so much about that is [that] you could remove a lot of supernatural from it and just see it as just a domestic horror –the horror of the domestic nuclear family. And that’s just one thing I love so much about that film. And I say just really, you know, shakes me to the core every time I see it. It just resonates with me and lingers in my brain, and I think that’s just what that one aspect of Kubrick that I definitely like to draw into. 

A knight winces, feeling his armor tightening in My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late

JW: I think it’s the same for—You mentioned my box set that was burgled, Michael Haneke box set. And his work is kind of horrific in a lot of ways, particularly that first trilogy. 

HW: Yeah, it revolves around a lot of every day. That familial stuff, you know? 

JW: Yeah, and I think that kind of does seep in, you know. We live it. You know? Everyone lives it. So, it’s an interesting place to tap into, I think. 

SP: My final question for you guys is, what’s next after this? Are you guys looking into doing more short films or features, or what’s next? 

HW: Yeah. Just at the moment, it’s just a lot of funding applications. Yeah, we’re in early stages of developing a couple of feature ideas. I mean, that’s the main goal is to get those done. But we’re applying for a few short film funds. We tried to get another, maybe get a couple made. But yeah, we’re just on the go, really. I mean, this film, My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late, is still going through the festival circuit, and so we’re seeing that now. But yeah, just funding applications. It’s a lot of fun. I mean, a lot of people ask us if we had ideas to turn this sort of short into an extended piece, but it’s not really the case. We’ve got a lot of projects we want to work on. Yeah, keeping busy. 

SP: Is there anything else that you think people should know about My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late? 

JW: I don’t think so, but [we’re] just excited to get more feedback, I think–more like what people think about it. Because obviously, at the moment, we’ve only really premiered it at festivals, and there was a couple that we couldn’t attend. Like, one was in Poland and recently we were in Sitges. But you can’t really gauge. It’s difficult to gauge when you’re not there, obviously. So, I’m kind of keen to sort of get it out into the real world and the rest of the world and see what people think. So, I don’t think there’s anything I would tell people about, but I’m curious to see what other people gotta say. 

HW: Brace yourself! 


My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late is currently making its rounds on the Film Festival circuit, but you can check out Joshua and Harry Warren’s other short films, including Shell, at Joshua’s website. 

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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