There are certain songs that just make you want to get up and dance and for me True Faiths ‘Take me Away’ is one of them. What would be a more fitting video than exactly that, some good old-fashioned boogieing, although admittedly the dancing is a vast improvement to my own. With Mr. Whitmore taking a step away from his usual pop colour vibes in favour of a darker gritty energy we felt we had to investigate. Feeling this new side to Mr. W we had a chat about just how he managed to capture the frenetic moves of the dancers getting down to DJ SKT’s remix of that classic 90’s dance floor anthem.
Word Is Cheap: What was the significance of the different worlds the dancers inhabit?
Mister Whitmore: The whole film was about capturing the sensation when time and space melt away on a great club night. No matter what’s happening in your life, it all just disappears. That moment when the music washes over you, suddenly transporting you into your own world, that’s magic! I love that feeling, so it was great bringing that to life. I also really wanted each world to feel distinct and equally surreal, as if these were places that exist in the recesses of each dancer’s mind, subconscious places that they aren’t even aware of.
Happy places. 🙂
WIC: The camera rotates around the movements of the dancer, I wonder whether these movements were preplanned or more mirroring the movements of the dancers?
MW: I knew going in that the dance and camera movements had to have distinct shifts in energy for each world, but after addressing those broad stroke ideas with our choreographer Ray Basa, and our Steadicam Operator Dustin Heindl, I felt it was best to trust in their talents to explore the concepts I had laid out. So aside from the overall style and a few specific shots I knew I wanted, the approach was very loose.
In the end, it was exhilarating to watch the dancers and camera have at it. It felt a lot more authentic, and it honestly created so many special moments that we couldn’t have designed if we had tried. Vibes and all, that’s what it was, so real respect to the Ray, his dancers, and Dustin for what they pulled off.
WIC: In comparison with your other videos color and light are used sparingly, why did you make this creative choice?
MW: The look of this film was really driven by the idea that each of the dancers have drifted off into their own imaginative worlds, so by design I wanted each setting to look like it was taking place in the recesses of their minds. My translation of that meant darker, moodier tones all around. That’s not to say that there weren’t a lot of firm decisions made with my DP Patrick Jones regarding the color choices. We spent a lot of time discussing the mood for each setting, making sure that we were creating distinct looks for each that still felt like pieces of a larger palette. It was great to step away from the bright colorful world that I’ve been working for quite some time, but I’ll definitely be bouncing back and forth between both styles in the future.
WIC: What criteria did you use when casting each of the main dancers?
MW: To be honest the casting situation on this project was a bit mental, but for all the right reasons. Originally the script called for one male and one female lead that would dance together through all of these worlds. After casting for three days we found some great dancers, but we just couldn’t find the right guy/girl match that I initially scripted for. Every time we paired dancers up it was as if the track’s life was just getting sucked away.
As this was all unfolding, we began to fall in love with all of the dancers so much so that we didn’t want to let any of them go. They were all so amazing that it would’ve been so hard to choose. So as we sat after call back watching them dance, it started to make more and more sense that we should just cast them ALL! It was a complete light bulb moment in the midst of all the chaos, because literally, just a day before our shoot I decided to alter the concept a bit to accommodate casting all 5 dancers, and it made the video all the better for it.
It was one of those situations where the process really drove the outcome. Fortunately, our commissioner Shadeh Smith was right there with me the whole time, and we knew right away that we were making the best decision for the video. That was one of many crisis moments that could’ve gone horribly wrong if we didn’t adapt properly, but because we had built a great deal of trust during pre pro we were able to move quickly and execute without any hesitation. It was a great lesson for me that sometimes you have to let the music and film lead the way, you can’t strangle it to death.
Mega big ups to our dancers (Neico Joy, Ayumi Fukazawa, Ki’Leigh Williams, Yesika Velasquez, Muata Langley), I love them, they truly made the film.