Making OWN

In April, dancer and choreographer Natali McCleary and I were commissioned by Belmont Filmhouse on our 3rd collaboration to visit Aberdeen for a week. The plan? To make a new dance film with 7 young filmmakers and 4 young dancers in 5 short days.

The challenges were plenty - time, a large group who didn't know each other, weather and creating a film. We came at these issues systematically.

Time - Nat and I came armed with a plethora of stimuli to help the group come up with a concept for their movement and film. These included pieces of music, a selection of short poems, themes and headings. We brain-stormed, spider-diagramed and chatted. By lunch time on day 1 we had a concept - the groups' conflicted feelings toward their connection with home, a.k.a Aberdeen. With that nailed nailed we were straight into movement and camera workshops until the end of day 2. Days 3, 4 and 5 were spent shooting in the city and reviewing our rushes at the end of every day.

A brand new group - It's hard not to get to know each other quickly and bond when thrown together for 5 intense days, but getting the filmmakers to join in with the movement warm-ups and the dancers to check out the filmmakers new camera knowledge certainly helped speed the process up. My biggest challenge was an 18 year old boy who didn't believe I knew my stuff for 2 whole days. In the end he asked me for a work placement.


Weather - We couldn't find a worthy indoor alternative to the outdoor locations we'd scouted, so we did what we always do - packed extra jackets and an umbrella and braved whatever the weather threw at us, which in this case included snow. Personally, I prefer shooting grey skies to blue so I was happy.

Creating a film - The group continued to develop their concept as we shot, worked hard and became a wicked team. When I left at the end of the week with the rushes I had a good idea of what they collectively had in mind for the edit, and sent the rough cut around the group for feedback before finishing it off.

Low and behold, we did it... thank you Aberdeen!

Jen Randall