Production Journal #1
This semester I'm taking a film production class called Dance for the Camera where a few of my fellow film majors and I collaborate with dance majors at Towson University to create dance films. Every week we are asked to work with choreographers and come up with an interesting way of capturing their dance on the camera. It's harder then you'd think; first off the camera's job is not to simply document the dance. The challenge of the class is to realize the wide opportunities film has to offer the medium of dance. A camera can give people a whole new way of looking at dance that a stage could never offer. Just taking the dance performance off of the stage and putting it in front of the lens opens up a world of endless possibilities. With film, we no longer have to worry about the placement of the dancers in relation to the stage or the audience. We are now free to move around in any direction. Film gives us a totally different perspective than seeing a performance on a stage does. This great freedom is one of the most attractive things about dance for the camera films.
Of course, once the dancers get off the stage and in front of the camera, there is a much bigger environment to control which makes things a little more complicated. Location is one of the biggest things we need to consider when making a dance for the camera. The dancers I've met in class have emphasized their enthusiasm for getting out of the dance studio and experiencing dance somewhere different. In one of the projects my group made a few weeks ago, we decided to play around with location and experiment with how setting can manipulate and affect the dance. We decided to see what conflicts and interesting situations would arise from creating a dance based around an elevator; we called the project Elevator Music. It was really fun coming up with stories revolving around an elevator; we finally decided on a narrative dance for the camera that followed a girl and a boy who meet on an elevator. We turned the dance into a cat and mouse game where the boy chases after the cute girl in the elevator. They express their attraction for each other with their dance movements; the dance was choreographed to embody the curiosity and tension between the two. In the end the boy finally get's the girl, they both end up in the elevator together smiling as the elevator doors close. In terms of complications with the project, we were shooting in a functional elevator so every once in a while someone would call the elevator and the doors would close mid shot taking us to some random floor in the building. Though this did effect the length of our shoot (I think the elevator was called 10 times while shooting), we managed to pull it off and create an energetic and fun dance for the camera.
Of course, the narrative route is not the only type of dance for the camera one can make. Some of the favorite ones I've seen are very abstract and don't necessarily follow a narrative. These more abstract pieces really work hard to evoke a certain mood or feeling through the choreography and the production. In my next project I want to explore this idea of approaching dance more abstractly. I'm especially interested in creating a visually complex and layered film that focuses on movement. I'm not exactly sure what I want to shoot, but as I develop this idea more, I will blog about it. Pretty soon I will post, Elevator Music to the blog but for now just enjoy the stills.
Until next time!