Introducing the Shut In Dance Film Fest

Introducing the Shut In Dance Film Fest, a digital festival for artistic growth and collaboration in times of separation.

Directed by Nicole Berger, choreographer for television programs including The Good Place, VEEP, and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

The mission and goal of the Shut In Dance Film Fest is simple: provide dance artists education and resources to not only pass the time during social distancing, but grow as artists. Through a process of distanced collaboration we will create and premier a series of high quality short dance films.

Participation is open to any and everyone.  Guidelines and submission info can be found at The Shut In Dance Festival website.

The Backstory, from festival producer Andrew Pearson:

I first met Nicole two years ago when I started teaching at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) in Hollywood. She had been there almost eight years by that point and was teaching everything from studio classes such as ballet and contemporary techniques, to industry classes such as Career Preparation and Dance for Camera.  I was always impressed with the versatility of her choreography and wealth of knowledge she possesses from her multi-faceted career, which spans from the concert stage to feature films. Needless to say I was thrilled when she first reached with an interest to produce a project together.

Festival Director: Nicole Berger
Festival Director: Nicole Berger

Over the course of the past two years, we’ve had several conversations and various iterations of projects that could meld our passions for dance creation and education. We were finally starting to make headway on a project we were both very excited about when got the email that AMDA would be closing campus for the foreseeable future. I have to admit, I was a little defeated and ready to scrap our project all together when we met via FaceTime the next day to check in. However, Nicole was all the more determined, recognizing her work with film and television provided a unique preparation for the world’s new situation.

Our main question was simply:

How do we progress an art form based on human connection and collaboration in times of isolation and separation?

Cut To: The Shut In Dance Film Fest

How does it work? What’s it all about?

In the past few weeks, as we’ve continued to develop this new festival, it’s been amazing to see the amount of creativity and resiliency the dance community has enlisted to take on this unique and challenging situation. But our question remained - how do we progress dance as a form? What are the tools dancers (and the creatives who work with dancers) need right now to produce projects of quality? What resources can be provided to allow the dance community to not just survive, but thrive, during social distancing? What skills can be learned that can be taken with us beyond the shelter in place ordinances?

This lead to Nicole’s idea to provide free tutorials on creating cinema-quality dance footage from home. These free lessons from LA Filmmakers and Directors will include info on how to use your iPhone or Android as a quality alternative to an expensive DSLR Video Camera. Participants will be given info on Framing, Shooting, and Lighting that could be done from home from our Master Filmmakers/Choreographers/Directors, including Josh Rose, Jaymes Camery, and Kitty McNamee.

Additionally, we’ve curated a team of Creative Directors to provide directives to participants. This team includes WHYTEBERGCity JamesMadison Hicks, and dendy/donovan projects. Participants will submit footage based on these directives and our Creative Directors will make selections to be included in their final projects. Selected submissions will be edited together for a high quality short dance/movement film, made in collaboration while separated. Participation and submission is entirely FREE!

About the author

Andrew Pearson is a performer, choreographer, producer, and dance/movement educator based in Los Angeles.  He has been presenting work in LA for over 10 years and has been invited to share his work throughout the US as well as at the Gdansk International Dance Festival in Poland.  Andrew was with LA Contemporary Dance Company for 6 years where he taught, choreographed, and performed, including engagements in Buenos Aires and New York City.  Additional credits include performances with the LA Philharmonic, the FIAC Art Faire in Paris, and exhibitions at MOCA and LACE. In addition to his creative work, Andrew has taught guest classes at college programs both nationally and internationally and is currently on faculty at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) as well as working as the Los Angeles Program Coordinator for Saint Mary’s College of California’s LEAP Program.