Our second Random Acts film for Channel 4 will airing on Wednesday 12th March at Midnight (end of the day). It’ll be showing after a classy exposé called ‘Strippers’. Classy.
It’s also screening as part of special sound-focused edition Bar Shorts organised by 12foot6 and Chris Shepherd. The first screening will be at The Book Club, London on 26th March, 7pm. The second screening will be at the Eagle Inn, Salford on 2nd April, 7pm.
Here’s some background to the film.
Gregory Is A Dancer is our second Random Acts film for Channel 4 and was commissioned by Balletboyz. This was our first live action commission but still has an animated sensibility and contains the same surreal approach we use in most of our work.
Part of our pitch was for this to be an ‘anti-dance’ film. However it still needed to be entertaining and work physically to deliver the right emotions and comic timings. That’s where Tom Reid came in. He’s an incredibly talented comic performer with a lot of physical control. Rehearsal sessions helped us find out which parts of the dancing could be pushed and where it needed restraint. To over the top and it would look too staged, losing the humanity in the performance. To small or too loose and there was nothing to hang the scenes on. Although Tom would say that he just based it on how Louis dances. After one of the funniest days ever spent on or off a set, it was obvious that nobody else could have brought what Tom did to the film, especially under the low-budget conditions and filthy tracksuits he had to endure.
Having almost no dialogue we re-united with Rob Connor to help tell the story through music. The general idea was for the film to be perceived as a driving music video that happened to match the emotional beats of the music. It was a nice process of starting with our points of reference, particularly our rehearsal track, and hearing Rob slowly build up different ideas and changing the nuances of the track to capture the tone of the story.
We looked at different ways to show so many scenes with our tiny budget. After first being put off by weekend hire of green screen spaces, we realised that a small kit green screen filmed at one end of our studio offered a garish, shabby feel that suited the main character’s upbringing as well as pulling the sleazy glitz of stardom down to the same level. Using flat lighting rather than matching up the environment light also enhanced the feel of all of the characters not quite fitting in their disjointed world. Keying and compositing was then a tricky balance of retaining green screen artefacts and the cheapness of the production while making sure it was slick enough not to be distracting.
Quirky symmetrical single-point perspective has been very much done but it was a very convenient way to reinforce that this film is all from the main character’s simplistic point of view while being surrounded by the things that have made him.
That was a lot of text. Here’s some pictures: