Made Manifest – A Dance Film Adventure

How do we make dance in this our Age of Plague?

I, Director Holly, am part of the Digital Dance Project, an online dance collective dedicated to creating work for the screen and contemporary digital landscape. They invited me to adapt part of THE QUEEN OF NORI into a dance film for their spring show TANGIBLE MOTION, and I immediately set to work planning and scheming the impossible.

How do we shoot a dance film remotely? More specifically, how do I direct a dance film remotely? So much of the experience of making a film is the on-set creation–how can we preserve that element of the process while I am 1500 miles away?

My solution to this problem was:

  • Visual storyboard
  • Detailed shot list
  • Be on Zoom for the entire shoot
First page of the MADE MANIFEST shoot storyboard–black arrows are camera movement

Zoom is of course a pale shadow of the live experience, but in both the film shoot and our rehearsal process I have been surprised how much I can tell about movement quality, performance, and camera angle. Lighting and camera movement were the most difficult production elements to judge, but I already have ideas on how to improve on that in the future from this experience.

So much dance film is what filmmaker/dance scholar Mitchell Rose calls “dance in a place”–take a dancer, put them in a space, and immediately you have a piece about the interplay of location and movement. As an artist, I find I’m much more interested in constructed reality, in controlling more elements of the on-screen environment. I haven’t seen much dance film that incorporates fantasy/science fiction, and creating MADE MANIFEST was a fascinating opportunity to explore that intersection.

Check out the trailer below, and stay tuned for more QoN content coming out soon!

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