Upon receiving the assignment to create a dance for camera, I was overwhelmed with excitement and ideas. Although the excitement to collect and compile footage of movement never faded, my ideas quickly began dropping like autumn leaves when I realized how small the allotment of time I had to realistically complete a finished product in a media and program I had no experience with really was. I realized that it would most efficient if I found a space that I liked (with good light, and simple aesthetic value), dancers that I wanted to work with, and an afternoon with ample daylight remaining. And that is exactly what I did.
On a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I pulled my lovely dancers, Anthony and Marissa, to the side after a rehearsal that morning and asked them if they would be willing to let me borrow their movement oriented minds for a few hours. Thankfully, they agreed, and I was in luck, because they coincidentally wore essentially the same clothes that day—nothing flashy, just a maroon top and dark pants. I was very pleased with their unintentional twinning; it worked in favor of costuming for my film.
I chose the space around the bench in front of the cartoon museum for a few reasons: large windows facing north, a subtle exterior and interior background with clean lines, the generally palate of the space (light polished wood, gray-blue skies, and dark gray window panes and railings). In retrospect, I probably would have avoided filming in front of a window (the dancers moved in and out of silhouette), but overall, I was pleased with the way the space looked on camera. I was especially interested in filming still shots with very slight movement, just to capture the beauty of the space before the dancers even entered it.
When filming movement, I gave the dancers a few prompts, but most of their dancing was a result of improvisation. In almost every shot I asked them start moving through slow and gesturally, then asked them to move with their full body a little faster. I had them include motifs in almost every shot: Marissa putting one hand over her eyes, and one over her mouth, Anthony manipulating Marissa’s movement, or Marissa throwing her hair over her shoulder. At the time, I had no impetus for these movement concepts, I just wanted to have very clear points in choreography that could overlap between angles for when I began editing.
The concept for my film came together in during the editing process. As I became more acquainted with final-cut pro, I realized that I was most interested in creating a work with sharp transitions, reflecting the direct and linear quality of the space I filmed in. After picking out some of my favorite footage, I realized that the two dancers had developed pretty clear characters, and by arranging my footage in an order that supported those characters, I could create a fairly communicative short story.
I chose music that emphasized the persistence of Anthony and Marissa’s lack of interest while complimenting the light witty quality that I hoped to capture in the narrative. Please enjoy Relentless: