Dream Boy

: Narrative Short
GENRE: Student Film
STATUS: Pre-Production


After a curious dream, a rosy-lensed yet romance-oblivious girl mistakenly takes an analytical approach in discovering the identity of her secret admirer.


Lost in her own fantastical world, Girl is oblivious to her loneliness. One day she awakens from a curious dream that prompts her to pursue her own mystery of romance. Though Girl employs formulaic skills to identify her Dream Boy, her subconscious gives her an overdue wake-up call.


On December 22, 2017, I first saw Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) by Rian Johnson. After being a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I left the theater that night thinking “I want to make something like that!” Then and there, I decided to be a filmmaker. As an optimistic 9th grader, I committed to telling stories through art that share at least a glimmer of hope. Just like with The Last Jedi, a story is not over when all seems lost.

This understanding grew in me during various health issues that I experienced during the rest of high school. I spent months of the school year at home because I wasn’t well enough to attend classes. Again, all was not lost because my story was just beginning, and my love for film grew abundantly, even while I was scholastically homebound.

When I returned to school, I dove head first into a 2-year film course offered by my high school. Then the pandemic hit. I persisted with experimenting and developing shorts in and outside of my coursework, and one of my projects became an official selection in a local film festival. This further encouraged me to keep pursuing filmmaking by applying to film school. There at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts I began to finetune my hopeful-storytelling skills. I found strength in my female filmmaker identity, and this has enabled me to validate female emotions. I don’t merely tell stories about women featuring the female perspective, but I take the effort with each female character to make space for their unique stories and the room to ground their emotions.

In general, women are conditioned from childhood to be embarrassed by or to diminish their expression of joy and excitement that they experience, often feeling compelled to apologize for the way they feel. Whether consciously or subconsciously, women seem to do this in fear of being perceived as “girly.” I found that during my formative years I didn’t shy away from telling girly stories, like tales to giggle over with other girlfriends, and was unapologetic for my love of Star Wars. After all, a princess with a laser gun, who rescues her rescuers? That was epiphanous! And so my work features detail-oriented, sentimental, and eclectic filmmaking to portray transformative aspects that women should no longer be embarrassed or diminished by, nor apologetic for.

As the writer, director, and co-producer of Dream Boy, I aim for the audience to experience hope through stories such as Girl’s. I want to encourage them to experience genuine joy and stop denying it for themselves as they’ve been trained to do.


Marlaena Henry - Director

Marlaena Henry is a writer, director, and editor who makes unconventional, hope-filled films. She draws inspiration from her love of Star Wars and her faith, embracing the fact that a story is not over even when all seems lost. Marlaena will graduate summa cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in May 2024 with a BA in Cinema and a Minor in Political Science. Her favorite films are Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) by Rian Johnson and Forrest Gump (1994) by Robert Zemeckis.

Abigail Arthur - Producer

Abigail Arthur is a producer and editor earning her BA in Cinema from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has always been interested in telling stories about the small, mundane, intimate moments of life, and is inspired deeply by slice of life films like Frances Ha, Tokyo Story, and L’Autre. Her love for filmmaking stems from her instinct to think about the how and why of a story with creativity, turning the bureaucracy of producer work into an exciting puzzle she can’t wait to solve.

Sofie Edwards - Director of Photography

Sofie Edwards is a cinema student at VCUarts pursuing a career in cinematography. She fell in love with the camera at a young age and has channeled that interest into working in the camera and g&e departments. Her inspiration for going into the film industry began with nature docuseries bing sessions and grew with her avid photography and videography. Her goal as a cinematographer is to convey the indescribable aspects of the human experience through visual storytelling, and she uses every on-set opportunity to evolve her work in pursuit of it. She also endeavors to guide others through the filmmaking process via New Surge Productions, a student organization that she is President of. Sofie is excited to explore the world of dreams and aspirations through this project with the rest of this incredible team. Her own dream life includes a garden, a cat or two, and proximity to a good bird-watching spot.


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