Iris has been ignoring the death of her mother for too long. She hasn’t collected her ashes and the crematorium keeps leaving her pass-agg voicemails. Embarking on the journey from London to Bradford she has no idea that crossing the threshold of the M1 will take her on the ride of her life.
Iris has been ignoring the death of her mother Maria for too long. She hasn’t collected her ashes and the crematorium keeps leaving her pass-agg voicemails. When she finally embarks on the journey from London to Bradford she has no idea that in crossing the threshold of the M1, she will be thrown into a magical realist adventure. With the mother that she cared for showing up 40 years younger and in the boot of her car, Iris must accept that she is about to be taken on the ride of her life.
From the hard edges of the city to the magic of the moors with a small pit stop at the crematorium karaoke disco party, we follow these two women as they navigate the absolute clusterf*ck of grief and look for joy in the least obvious places.
Dance, then mixes the hyper-real with the magical to create an irreverent, playful 15 minutes that will surprise audiences at every turn. Drawing from the harsh realism of Andrea Arnold's Wasp and Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake, and mixing it with the epic scale of Ben Sharrock's Limbo, the mother-daughter relationship in Greta Gerwig's Ladybird and the magical elements of Una mujer Fantastica by Sebastian Lelio, Dance, then is a visual/genre mashup you won't want to miss. It's a fictional narrative centring underprivileged female voices, with visual influences from all over the world - from Sebastian Lelio's films in Chile, to the French/Algerian photographer Lise Sarfati's portraits in Russia. With the Bradford moors as its backdrop, Dance, then is a bold, playful story about the inescapability of grief.
VALUES AND ETHOS
One of the most amazing things about creating ‘Dance, then’ has been the collective desire to nurture the project, develop the story and shape the process. It has made us think intentionally about how we want to make this film, what its purpose is, and the ethos we want to develop as a collective of creatives under Dance Then Productions.
We want to build a working ethos based on care, dignity and respect. With the understanding that it's not just about what we make, it's about how we make it and who gets the opportunity to make it.
We have been inspired by the notion that:
“The divide between politics and art is not real. It is politics that dictates who creates art, how it is consumed and sold, the conditions in which it is created, the subjectivities that dominate it”. Lola Olufemi
This has informed our practice and we have identified 3 areas that we would like to think super intentionally about and direct our funding towards.
The ethos of putting together the team was to identify early career practitioners who might benefit from the opportunity to enhance their professional development in an environment where we centre learning, peer support, autonomy and creative well being. We have specifically targeted people who have been alienated from making work in the film industry because of lack of opportunity or an inability to work for free. No one will be refused work because they require paying and no one will be prioritised because they don’t.
An Infrastructure of Care
We are working with a Crew and Wellbeing co-ordinator and a Leadership Coach, which is helping us to identify possible stress points and weaknesses in our team. With this guidance, we will develop and put in place safeguarding measures to mitigate these problems and we will continue to work with them throughout the project in order to make sure our set is inclusive, accessible and safe for everyone involved.
The story has resonated with a wide demographic and has shaped the writing process into something more collaborative; prompting different connections, conversations and highlighting the need for more opportunities to engage in this way. Grief can often be isolating. Through our screenings we want to offer a space that challenges that.
We will be collaborating with facilitator and ritual-builder Daisy Jacobs to put together a series of workshops exploring our relationship to grief, and how we can support, hold and witness one another through life's losses.
Here is what that looks like in practice and on paper.
FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION/SCREENING PLANS
Some of the funds we raise will go towards our film festival submissions. It costs money to enter and attend each festival, and they are incredibly important for making sure a film gets seen. This means that if you decide to back us, your contribution will not only help us to make it but crucially, to distribute it.
As our film embraces communities in the north of the UK - both in narrative and crew - we want to target Northern towns and cities in our festival exhibition plans. As such, we will enter 'Dance, then' into the Manchester Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival 2024. We will also target the Lift-Off Global Network, which hosts festivals in Manchester and London.
Many of our screenings will take place in non-traditional cinema spaces that will allow us to welcome wider audiences. We are big fans of our local working men’s club and it has been a huge inspiration in our work - politically, communally and creatively - so we want to use similar spaces in Yorkshire and London. These venues charge hiring fees, so this will also be part of our budget.
MEET THE TEAM
Kate Newman (writer) is an actor, writer, creative producer and cabaret performer. She wants to use this short as an opportunity to pitch the development of the story both as a feature and a theatrical adaptation. In doing so she hopes to explore some of the themes of the piece in more depth; particularly the politics of care and disability within society, grief, the mother/daughter relationship, rituals and radical joy.
Philippine Velge (director) has extensive on-set experience as an actor in various projects for Netflix, HBO, Lionsgate and independent French cinema. As a director she aims to offer alternative models of working creatively that challenge the structural inequalities and abuses of power that she has experienced so far in her career. Instead, she wants to focus on cultivating ecologies of learning and peer support where every crew/cast member is valued and respected and has the confidence and opportunity to thrive creatively.
Daisy Bryant (producer) is a producer and filmmaker with five years’ experience in network television, working on a range of projects including Emmy®-winning and BAFTA-nominated series and films. She feels producing this short is the perfect opportunity to holistically cultivate the skills needed for a meaningful career in film, whilst forging new connections and learning from different creative voices. She hopes to one day launch her own company and produce scripted films and documentaries with a social purpose, seeking diverse stories that focus on the human condition and translating them into engaging films that appeal to large audiences. Daisy was accepted as a BAFTA Connect member in 2023.