The son of a retired Navy Captain, Steve Willis spent most of his youth moving around the world every three years. Whereas some people can become insulated by such an experience, Steve found himself able to relate to more people than the average person. With a love for the visual arts and music, Steve combined his social blessings with his interests to create a successful career as a music video director. During this time Steve developed a friendship with Rebecca Romijn that ultimately lead to the insanity that is attempting to choreograph a fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas while also documenting the experience. The fruit of such an endeavor, “Wet Dreams”, is currently making it way to the festival circuit, and Steve allowed himself to be subjected to Film Threat’s brand of interrogation:

What messages, if any, were you trying to convey with “Wet Dreams
It’s about going for your dreams. There are always obstacles but you have to ignore them and continue on. It’s not like that is a new concept but I think it helps to see that someone like Rebecca Romijn, the star of the documentary, gets told “no” too. It’s also about friendship.

There are two goals in the film, the quest to choreograph the Bellagio Fountain and actually to make the film itself.

Why did you choose the title “Wet Dreams?” Obviously it can have multiple meanings, so how do they all apply?
The title does have multiply meanings in the film as well. 1. Choreographing the fountain is a dream, and it is water. Water is wet. 2. For a long time while we were making the film we thought it wouldn’t happen and that our dreams would be extinguished, (or wet).

Because the title could go either way, it seemed like a good one not to give away the ending. I felt like it allowed the possibility of failure to exist. Of course it also sounds sexy too…which might get interest. Hopefully it isn’t a tease for those wanting a porno.

What was the genesis of the project? Why specifically the Bellagio fountain?
Rebecca and I used to have a friendly music competition we called a “Build Off”. We would prepare for months collecting songs that started off small and ended with a crescendo. (A good example is “Stairway to heaven”). We would take turns playing one song for each other. There are 3 simple rules to a Build Off. 1. Be a good listener. 2. Don’t shit on a Build (almost the same as being a good listener). 3. You can use visual aids and lighting to help the excitement of the build.

It was rule 3 that lead to the Bellagio. During one climatic moment I had one of those party poppers secretly in my hand. They are usually seen around New Years Eve, and shoot confetti when you pull the string in the back. They make a loud pop. Anyway, in the spirit of the build, we continued to try and find things to help add excitement to the climatic moments…eventually we were like “wouldn’t it be cool to choreograph the Bellagio fountain to this song?!”

Were the people behind the Bellagio reluctant at all? Were they excited about the idea of a doc being made?
The kind folks at Wet Design were very reluctant. They don’t usually solicit outside of their company for choreographers and they didn’t really need another show. I think that it was the idea that we were making a film about it and the possibility of exposure for their company that helped us get our foot in the door.

Did you run into any major obstacles during filming?
How long can this article be? What shoot doesn’t have them? A big part of the hardship is reflected on the screen. The film is very self-conscious about the process of making the film. My biggest lesson has to be with the music in the film. We were having a really hard time getting the actual song we choreographed the fountain to approved. It was about to kill the whole project.

How much did it cost to make? Was this a long filming process?
The budget is around $150,000. We filmed for a month and then waited for the fountain show to premiere in Vegas a month later (due to everyone’s schedules). Then we edited it for almost 8 months. When we got accepted into the festival, we had to re-edited based on the music we could afford. It was officially finished one week ago. How long is that?

About a year, I think. What format did you shoot the film in, and was it an aesthetic choice or a budgetary one?
The idea to shoot on mini digi DV was budgetary; the desire to shoot 24p was for the look.

Are there any scenes you had to cut that you wish were still in the film?
We had a great section that showed Rebecca and I narrowing down our choices of songs to present to Wet Design. During the section you could see each song edited to footage of the fountain. It was very satisfy to me because it was the closest thing to actually choreographing all those songs to the fountain. I ended up putting something in its place that is satisfying for a whole other reason. It speaks to the difficulty of getting music cleared for films. It isn’t fair that low budget documentaries are held to the same prices as big budget features.

Do you have any projects coming up now that “Wet Dreams” is done production?
I have been working on a documentary about Yma Sumac, singing legend from the 50’s. I have been working on it for 15 years. I am very close to Yma as a result. I’m glad it wasn’t finished sooner because it will be so much different now that I have gone through this process with Wet Dreams.

The best job is that because of this film, Wet Design has hired me to choreograph more fountain shows.

Posted on June 13, 2006 in Interviews by

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