Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lucky Me

Lynette Schenk, Vincent Baskerville, Kendra Cabral, Sara Pothier & Ny Tran in Winter Break.
There's a moment in every shoot when I am struck - sometimes to tears, I admit -  by how lucky I am.

In the weeks or months preparatory to production, I'm busy concocting a half-articulate narrative, thinking about casting, collecting music.  Sometimes there was a storyboard to help guide production, sometimes more or less detailed movement phrases. Sometimes, like with Wild Wood, there was no movement developed at all, just faith that a general plan of action would keep 9 girls deeply engaged, revealing something more authentic than choreographed steps could ever do.

Then comes the production itself, and with it all the stress of weather, costumes, time, dancers' schedules, time, too small a crew, time, technical difficulties, time.  I'm running around being choreographer, caterer, director and PA all at once.  All of a sudden there's a moment when I think: this is what I pictured, what I hoped could happen. This has a life of its own.

In Smithfield, Rhode Island just now it happened again. After 2 days of whirlwind getting-to-know-you and let's-put-on-a-show, we were on our second day of a 3-day shoot.  The temperature rose to almost 30 degrees, with bright sun and a perfect dusting of snow on the ground. Thanks to relatively warm costumes, complete with hats and gloves, the 7 wonderful Rhode Island College student performers were ready to dance outside.  As they ran through a 4-minute sequence of dancing, I sat by the boom box, out of sight indoors.  I pushed PLAY, left my post to get a kleenex, and thought: I set this world in motion and now it's spinning along without me.  Helped by our visionary host & producer Angelica Vessella, the completely willing RIC students, and the dedicated two-man camera crew, what I'd imagined suddenly exists.

I had this moment in production for Her Children Mourn too.  I had just run to get something in back of the barn, while cinematographer Sunny Sawhney continued shooting.  Alone, I stood still for a minute, just breathing in satisfaction, relieved that the weather had smiled on us and that this crazy proposition was paying off, astonished at the power of shared vision.  We were making something that didn't exist before.  It began to speak for itself.

More than a year later, Her Children is speaking for itself all over: screening in Portland Oregon at POWFest, in Duncan Oklahoma at Trail Dance; in West Orange, New Jersey and elsewhere as part of Black Maria Film+Video Festival.  The Breaking 8 Festival in Italy awarded Children 2nd prize - a GoPro camera so I can keep running around.

I don't remember having one of those epiphanies during the shooting of 890 Broadway. Maybe it was something about being indoors for the whole shoot, or only shooting for one day - on December 31, 2011. I do remember thinking what a great way to celebrate the end of a year.  Or to celebrate how lucky I am.  890 has now become the first of my shorts to be accepted in the prestigious Dutch dance film festival CineDans.  How lucky I am.

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