Putting SA dancers on screen and map
South Africa has not yet cracked the contemporary dance film genre.
We are, however, starting to see Afrikaans musicals make a comeback (think Liefling, Platteland and the forthcoming Pretville, which releases on November 23).
We may also have world champions leaving SA to dance the socks off everyone and supply musicals with dancers for stages around the world – but our dancers have yet to make a dent on the silver screen.
Joziewood Films and Amariam Productions want to change that with a production they are planning, Pop, Lock ’n Roll.
Producer Pascal Schmitz said a local dance movie had “been a long time coming. We see the popularity of American dance movies at our local box office.”
They are developing a first draft and looking for suitable dancers who are interested in appearing in the film.
The film will follow a young dancer as he tries to make it on the dance scene while navigating a busy social life, which includes falling in love with the girlfriend of the gangster who is bankrolling his career.
While they will try to use the structure of the genre, Schmitz says they want to be creative as well.
“People have a certain expectation and you can’t stray too far off, but this will not be the typical ‘this crew versus that crew’ or ‘young girl falls in love with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks’ kind of story,” Schmitz says.
“It has to be much more than that, contextual to the local dance scene.
“People here love to dance and we’ve created a dance scene, but they can’t make a living out of it.
“That will be seen in the film and our campaign around the film.
“We want to change the business of dancing in this country. People should be able to make a living out of it and we want to try to create an awareness of the dance scene and a respect for the dancers and the dance forms.”
Schmitz notes that Step Up 3 raked in millions of rand at the local box office, reflecting a definite interest in the genre.
Making an original dance film with a local context could prove a win-win.
“We don’t want to make a guerrilla low-budget movie,” said Schmitz, referring to the recent documentary African Cypher as a yardstick.
This particular dance film, directed by Bryan Little, won the prize for best SA documentary at the recent Durban International Film Festival “for conveying the energy and creativity of young people across South Africa today”.
Schmitz was particularly interested in the documentary’s high production value.
He said director Ziggy Hofmeyr (of Joziewood Productions) was watching lots of dance films to pick up on the best techniques for displaying what Cape Town dancers had to offer.
They also want to partner with Cape Town group Magystics, which uses dance to teach children discipline and life skills and as a diversion from destructive behaviour patterns.
Shmitz said that several dancers had loaded casting videos of their moves on to YouTube, but the team were looking for someone who could play the main character.
“We’re hoping to discover a star,” he said.
• For more info about the film visit http://www.indiegogo.com/poplocknroll or, if you’re into hip hop dancing, you can upload an audition clip to www.youtube.com/poplocknrollvideos – the auditions and casting haven’t closed yet.