Alan Berliner

Feature | 14 Aug 2006

Wait a second, I'm just going to visit a fruit juice which I'm going to drink while we speak. OK. I got a terrible night's sleep last night. I had a sleeping pill – they're my safety net and I'm not afraid to say it because they work for me. They don't slay the dragon but they do tame the dragon. Am I talking too fast? OK, good.

So I've been a terrible sleeper my whole life, and I started to see insomnia as a fantastic subject for a film. It's a very rich field cinematically. I'm in a position to report back from the front, to make a film from the inside out about the futility and frustration of trying to fall asleep. Making Wide Awake was rather a hellish proposition for me. I was lying in bed with a camera watching myself watching myself trying to get to sleep. I also tried make the film in a way which transcends the specificity of my situation and reaches out to Western culture itself. Do you know one in three people who read this article don't sleep as well as they want to? In the Victorian era, people slept for nine or ten hours a night – now it's more like seven-and-a-half and that's only going down. This is a global experiment in sleep deprivation.

I'm sorry to talk about the war, but in wars soldiers don't sleep for days and weeks and the generals all stay up and no one's making good decisions. Do you know what the most effective form of torture is? That's right – sleep deprivation. I mean, if I want to know when the bomb's going off I'll twist your arm but if I have time I'll deprive you of sleep.

I don't know if I'll change. Part of the joy of making films is losing yourself in time. In the daytime there are phone calls, but the night is pure and I don't think that's going to change. The light bulb opened up the night and now the internet has opened other pathways. In fact, with all these images and desires it's a wonder anyone gets any sleep at all.

TUE 22 AUG 19:30 Cineworld £7.45 (£5.20 concs)
THU 24 AUG 19:45 Cineworld £7.45 (£5.20 concs)