Private Project


Reeling in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide attempt, a young swimmer works through her trauma in the water while desperately trying to break the wall of silence at home.

  • Anne Metcalf
  • Liv Prior Colliander
  • Brian Mancini
  • Charlie Kanter
    Key Cast
  • Jacqueline Wright
    Key Cast
  • Liv Prior Colliander
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Family, Sports, Teen, Metal Illness
  • Runtime:
    21 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    63,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Laughlin International Film Festival
    United States
    October 15, 2016
    Best US Short
  • Reykjavik International Film Festival
    October 5, 2016
    European Premiere
  • LA Shorts Fest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    September 8, 2016
    Los Angeles Premiere
  • Las Vegas Film Festival
    Las Vegas
    United States
    June 7, 2016
    West Coast Premiere
  • SOHO International Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    June 11, 2016
  • NYC Independent Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    April 27, 2016
    World Premiere
  • American Film Festival
    October 29, 2016
    Poland Premiere
Director Biography - Liv Prior Colliander

Liv Colliander is an LA based writer/director from Copenhagen. She recently graduated from the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory from the Directing discipline, with her thesis film DRYLAND. Over the past decade, she has worked her way up through the Danish film and television industry beside the country’s finest filmmakers and at renowned companies such as Zentropa and Nordisk Film. Colliander studied at the European Film College and Danish Short and Documentary Film School. Her first shorts, both dark comedic dramas, MANDEN OVERFOR and MANDEN UDENFOR, starred celebrated Danish actors. The latter aired on Danish television and premiered at the 2009 Rotterdam Film Festival. She also directed the short NYE TIDER, commercials, and music videos for independent Danish bands. At AFI, Colliander received the Alessandro F. Uzielli Scholarship, and awards from Danish foundations for the arts, including the Nordisk Film Foundation. She is now in the WIF mentorship program and will be attending the Reykjavik Talent Lab 2016. Colliander is currently developing a web-series; a crime-drama pilot, HUNTED HEADS; and her first American feature, ASHES; as well as her first Danish Feature, a near future dark comedic drama, THE ART OF SHARING.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Have you ever experienced an emotional pain that made you feel like you couldn’t breathe? Like you were drowning? I have, and that is what DRYLAND is about.

I came to the American Film Institute, all the way from Denmark, to become a better filmmaker and clarify my voice. Through my first year, it became clear that I had to get more personal and dig deeper. So I chose to grab onto one of the most painful moments in my memory and put it on the screen. It was terrifying.

My grandfather took his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning in the family car a year before I was born in 1984. Turns out it runs in the family, and in 2011 my brother and I found our mother who had attempted suicide with pills. Luckily she survived. I still almost can’t breathe when I reimagine finding her, nor the dark time that followed, up until she finally got well again. Our relationship changed forever that day and we had to find a new way of communicating. It was hard for both of us to talk about what happened, and how we felt about it. There was too much disappointment, shame and anger inside both of us. There was a lot of silence and smiles for fake reassurance.

Together with my co-writer Anne Metcalf, I set out to break the silence and use the language of cinema to process these strangling emotions related to depression and suicide. As we found out, it was hard to ‘talk’ about it, and we needed to find a tool to help us show the words that could not be spoken.

When I was five, I fell into a swimming pool and almost drowned. Luckily I survived. Since then I’ve been terrified of water, and every time I face a big challenge in my life I dream that water rushes in like a tsunami, taking everything away around me, including my breath, and forcing me to wake up. Around the time of my mother’s incident, these dreams were frequent.

So we decided to use water as a metaphor to show our main character’s inner emotional life. We made her a swimmer, and, in contrast, associated her mother’s world with the dry deserts of California.

Because of my early pool incident, I sadly don’t have as much knowledge about swimming as I do about suicide. So to ensure we were creating an authentic world, Anne and I spent hours researching young swimmers in the LA area. Most of the girls we met ended up performing as the swim team in the movie, creating a dynamic mix of professional actors and non-actors.

I would almost call the finished film a poetic love letter to my mother. At least it helped my mother and I to fully talk about what happened. DRYLAND also brought out a dialog amongst the team and crew about it’s themes, as we found out that most of us had experienced some sort of similar tragedy. Together, we created DRYLAND, and we hope that the film will spark dialog about depression and suicide.

Let’s not stay silent and let’s support each other.