Dream sequences are a cinematic tradition in which a character dreams of events that are unimportant to the plot.

However, the dream sequences can have a meaningful effect on the film’s narrative. Dream sequence provides a contrast between what is real and what is imagined.

Dream sequences are common in films that focus on fantasies, science fiction, and horror genres. Films tend to blend dreams with reality and make it difficult for viewers to distinguish between the two.


how to write dream sequences

What Are dream sequences in film?

A dream sequence is a section of a film in which the characters are experiencing a dream.

Dream sequences are frequently used to convey information that cannot otherwise be shown within the narrative; for example, if the film is a mystery, the dream sequence will reveal the murderer.

More frequently, however, dream sequences “take advantage of the potential of the medium to display hallucinatory and bizarre imagery.”



The use of dream sequences was an early cinematic device.

Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 short silent film The Life of an American Fireman included both a dream sequence and its revelation: “Fire! Fire! Save me!” as our hero dreams he is burning down with his own house.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze” was adapted into a short silent film by Charles Brabin in 1922 and contained an extended dream sequence in which Holmes’ horse Silver Blaze appears to him in his bedroom, but turns out to be his landlady’s cat.

One of the most famous examples of a dream sequence in cinema is from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). In this scene, Kane’s wife Susan is seen singing in an opera production she believes to be one of her greatest successes.

What Are Dream Sequences In Film?

Dreams have been present in films since early days of filmmaking. The earliest references of dreams in film can be traced back to Georges Méliès Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902).

This silent film has a scene where a man falls asleep while reading Jules Verne’s novel From Earth to the Moon and dreams of being launched into space by an enormous cannon. The first intentional use of dream sequences was in D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916).

Griffith used a dream sequence to show one character’s vision of his own death at the hands of another character.

How To Write Dream Sequences In Film

Movie dream sequences can get away with being totally fantastical, but there are rules you can follow to make them feel seamlessly part of the narrative. How to Write Dream Sequences in Film First and foremost, keep dreams visually interesting and avoid boring the audience by staying “in character.”

Dream sequences that use first person perspective have a tendency to fall flat because they don’t have the visual impact that external perspectives do. If you’re using a first person perspective, make sure your character is experiencing something unique or interesting that would be hard to capture in an external shot since most of the uniqueness comes from the first person perspective itself.


Second, use first person perspective dream sequences sparingly. In general, actual dreams tend to be shorter than the length of a movie scene. Even if you’re doing a standalone dream sequence (e.g., The Wizard of Oz) keep it short so that you maintain the audience’s interest.

Third, don’t go too far out of character. Although dreams are supposed to be fantastical and off-the-wall, don’t forget who your characters are and how they act in waking life. For example, if you had a character who was generally suave and debonair on screen.

Dream Sequences In Film Make The Dream Ask A Question

One of the most common dreams our subconscious conjures is that we are falling. Everyone has had this dream, whether it’s a nightmare of falling from a great height, or a pleasant memory of jumping into a pool on a hot summer day.

THe dream sequence in film works by using the audience’s familiarity with these dreams to create an expectation that something dramatic is about to happen. If you’re dreaming about being chased by an axe-wielding maniac, you know there won’t be any actual danger when you wake up.

But if your mind creates a dream sequence where you’re falling, then you’ll expect some kind of conclusion. The key to making a dream sequence work is to have it do something other than just show us one person dreaming in bed. The purpose of every dream is to solve some problem, answer some question or make some kind of wish come true.

So instead of having one person simply dream about falling and waking up, have them ask themselves: “Why am I falling?” or “What am I afraid of?” By creating that question in the audience’s mind too – they’ll wonder what the answer will be.

And that sets up the dramatic moment when the character wakes up and realizes their worst fears were realized – they really did fall.

Dream Sequences As Part Of The Story Structure

Dream sequences (or dream scenes) as part of a story structure is something that has been done since the early days of fiction, and it’s still done today. Tolkien did it with Gandalf’s dream sequence in The Lord of the Rings, and Stephen King used dreams in The Shining, Carrie, The Dead Zone and several other of his works.

Dream sequences are frequently used to give the reader insight into the character’s thoughts; they can also be used to reveal some information that otherwise wouldn’t be available to the character. It can be used as a plot device or simply to entertain.

Using this technique in your writing opens up a whole world of possibilities! Here are some examples of how dream sequences were used in various books: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:  In this novel, Nick Carra way recalls Gatsby’s life through a series of vivid dreams.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:  In addition to being an excellent book for teaching kids about math and logic, it also has some pretty cool dream sequences within it. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende:  In this novel, Bastian Balthazar Bux (the main character) reads a book called.


Dream Sequences In Film Define The Purpose Of The Dream

Dream sequences are visual representations of a characters unconscious thoughts, desires or memories, but what do they mean? What purpose do they serve in the story? Whether we’re aware of it or not, all of us dream every single night.

Sometimes we remember our dreams, sometimes we don’t. When we do remember our dreams, it’s likely that the dream is either very unsettling or very exciting. In films, dreams can be used to help further the plot and give us insight into the protagonist’s mind.

When you understand the purpose of a dream sequence in film, you can appreciate its effectiveness and importance to the story being told. But what is the purpose of a dream sequence in film?

Defining The Purpose Of The Dream Sequence

There are several purposes for including a dream sequence in your film. One reason is to help solve a mystery. For example, if your main character is being haunted by visions of his deceased wife or daughter in his sleep, this could indicate that he’s hiding something about their death from himself.

It’s also possible that he himself could have been responsible for their death and is having a hard time accepting it. Either way, there’s an emotional reason why he’s constantly having these visions which needs to be identified and resolved before he can move.


Dream Sequences In Film Determine The Logic Of The Dream

Film theory tells us that everything in a dream is literally true. So why do filmmakers use dreams to illustrate concepts like fate, the subconscious and other deeper meanings? Treating dreams as literal reality robs them of any power to influence or inspire us.

When we see the real world through dream logic, we can learn things about ourselves and our own subjective experience.Dream sequences are used widely in film to express or comment on a character’s current situation or mindset.

They might be used to illustrate a character’s subconscious desires, explicitly show the audience something it wouldn’t see otherwise or help define the logic of the dream itself. n each case, filmmakers use dreams in film to help communicate deeper truths about their characters and themes.

Dreams as Subconscious Expression

Sometimes a dream sequence isn’t used as an analogy for anything else so much as a direct expression of a character’s subconscious feelings and desires. The character is dreaming these feelings out into reality and reflecting their own emotional state back at themselves.

This is how most people would interpret dreams – they’re often expressions of desire, guilt, etc. In horror movies especially, these kinds of dreams are often nightmares which symbolically represent some sort of psychological problem within the main character.

Dream Sequences In Film Avoid The Flashback Dream

Hard to believe, but it’s true. Flashbacks in dreams are the best way to give an audience a glimpse into a character’s psyche, but they can make for some very confusing movies. Tarantino has used dream sequences more than any other director in Hollywood.

Many of his films have multiple sequences where the audience is given insight into what is really going on inside of his characters’ heads. But even he has admitted that he sometimes gets too wrapped up in using them.

“I got so enamored with my own coolness and started putting the flashbacks in at the beginning of Act 2,” Tarantino said on the Empire Film Podcast . “I was thinking ‘This is cool because I can play with time.’ I was doing it too much.”

Flashbacks in film can be used to great effect, as we have seen throughout Tarantino’s films, but they should not be overused. If a filmmaker wants to use a flashback scene, they need to make it count. Don’t just throw one in at random. It needs to flow naturally from the story being told or it could make your viewers feel lost and confused.

Dream Sequences In Film Dreams Shouldn’t Mislead The Audience

We’ve all experienced dreams. We know that they don’t always make sense, and we know that they can sometimes be surreal or jarring. Trying to make sense of a dream is often a difficult process, and one that requires the use of our waking cognition to try to wrap our minds around something that just doesn’t fit with our reality.

But what if we were trying to figure out what was going on in another person’s dream? Would it be so easy? Perhaps the most common example of dream sequences is in film. Whether it’s a horror film where you are being chased by some terrifying creature, or simply a film about a character whose subconscious is trying to help them solve a problem, dreams have been used for decades as tools to aid story telling.

The problem with this is that it usually isn’t done well. In fact, it usually ends up doing more harm than good for the audience because it detracts from the narrative rather than adding to it. The danger with using dreams in your film is that you run the risk of misleading your audience.

This can happen if you try too hard to explain what the characters are experiencing or you try too hard to interpret what their subconscious may be trying.

Dream Sequence Screenplay Format

Dream Sequence Screenplay Format is a type of screenplay format where the story is told in a series of short scenes, usually transitioning from one to another by means of a dream or flashback.  Told in this style, the story can jump back and forth from the past to the present, intertwining the two as it moves along.

In order for a script to be classified as a Dream Sequence Screenplay Format, it must be written in screenplay format (meaning it follows the standard rules), and must contain an opening “dream sequence” followed by multiple scenes that tell the rest of the story.

Since this format is relatively rare, it’s important for both writers and readers to know how it should look. Here’s a quick primer on how to format the first act of your screenplay, the beginning of the story.

As always, you can use this article as a template, but I recommend doing some research on screenplays and deciding what works best for you. *This example is based on the classic three-act structure. If you’re using a different structure, adjust accordingly.

**Based on The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and Telling Your Story by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and Naomi MacDougall-Shackleton


How Do You Write A Dream Sequence With Impact In Your Story

Dream sequences are an effective way to create a dramatic moment in a story, but they can also be tricky to pull off. A dream sequence is a part of the story that’s told in the form of a dream or vision. It allows you to reveal something about the main character or advance the plot in an indirect way.

Telling your entire story through a series of dreams is very difficult to do effectively, but including one dream sequence can help to provide insight into your character or propel your plot in an unexpected direction. Here are some tips for using dream sequences effectively in your writing:

Dreams are a great place for foreshadowing without any words at all – what does the dream reveal about what’s going to happen later? Don’t overuse them – only use them when there’s no other way to get important information across.

A dream sequence can be used as a framing device – put the beginning and end of your story at the beginning and end of the dream sequence. This can be done with description (“the scene opens with…”) or dialogue (“…and then I told him my idea”).

Don’t forget that if you’re using dialogue, it should sound like something someone would actually say (as opposed to “I had this crazy dream.

 Dream Sequences In Film The Premonition Dream

Premonition dreams are a type of dream that occurs when a person sees a premonition of an event before it occurs. Premonitions are not the same as the typical dreams that people have, because they are not based on thoughts and emotions.

They are instead based on real events in the future that have not yet occurred. Truly prophetic dreams can be very powerful, and they can be difficult to ignore. However, some people dismiss them as coincidences or mere fantasies.

There are many movies that have depicted premonitions dreams in one way or another. Some of these movies have depicted these types of dreams as warnings or foreshadowing of things to come, while others have shown them to be omens of death or misfortune.

Here is a list of movies that use premonition dreams:

The Matrix: Neo’s first premonition dream takes place after he takes the red pill and begins his journey into the world of The Matrix. This is his first encounter with reality and also with The Oracle, who is synonymous with fate and destiny.

In this movie, Neo’s subconscious mind is warning him about what is coming in his life and what he must do to survive it.