Carnival of Dreams: Wet plate artist Ian Ruhter and actor Gary Oldman visits Slab City | Profoto

Carnival of Dreams: Wet plate artist Ian Ruhter and actor Gary Oldman visits Slab City

31 January, 2017

Written by: Jens-Linus Lundgren-Widén

Last year Ian Ruther shared his journey to Slab City with us. Now he returns to the mystical place to do a video documentary together actor Gary Oldman.

Carnival of Dreams is a short film based on the unforeseen events that transpired over a 48-hour period in a magical place called Slab City where the wet plate collodion artist Ian Ruhter and his wet plate technician Will Eichelberger set out to make the world’s largest Ambrotype.


In the midst of this larger 3 year project to photograph and film the community, a spontaneous visit by Gary Oldman revealed something far greater than the process that brought everyone together.
As Oldman and Ruhter focus their cameras on each other the plates unveiled a beautiful friendship. The photographs made also revealed a hidden truth about the people who stand by our side and allow us to see the beauty that’s in front of us.



About this process Ruhter says, “I’ve been doing this for years now and every time I go out to shoot, It’s a lot of excitement and anxiety, and it’s scary. Ya know. I’ve suffered the greatest heartbreaks and the greatest achievements all maybe in the same day and moments.”



The Carnival of Dreams is the audience’s introduction to the residents of Slab City, and in many ways focuses on what feels like a fleeting moment in time, as if you were dreaming, the stresses that were overcome, and the lasting impressions that all involved experienced and embraced. The film merges many elements and exchanges including a recorded phone call between Oldman and Ruhter weaved through the film: a follow-up conversation to their trip discussing the events that transpired and their stream of consciousness about how they were moved by their experience.




Oldman succinctly states he hasn’t been this challenged since he was a young actor. The “challenge” is a thread that is an integral part to what everyone associated with this project has been pursuing and is not only acknowledged by the work and efforts of Ruhter, Oldman and Vance as the filmmaker, but by all individuals involved in this process.

Carnival of Dreams Cast & Crew

Directed by Lauren Vance
Featuring: Ian Ruhter, Gary Oldman
Director of Photography: Robin Fenlon
Camera 2: Ian Beaudoux
Editors: Shannon Burnham, Daniela Kelley McInerney, Victor June, Jr.
Coordinating Producer: Gisele Schmidt
Executive Producers: Ian Ruhter, Gary Oldman, Lauren Vance, Gisele
Wet plate artists: Ian Ruhter, Gary Oldman
Wet plate technician: Will Eichelberger
Additional Cast: “Builder” Bill Ammon, Will Eichelberger, “Pastor Dave,”
“Mary Anne”, Phyllis, Gisele Schmidt


Written by: Jens-Linus Lundgren-Widén