Uncontrollable Dancing At The NZ Film Festival
(for immediate release)
Leah and Terry used to be friends, but now he won't stop calling her.....
Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing is a new film from Gordon Productions about the distances between people and the ways which they try to connect with each other.
The film revolves around Leah and Terry, old friends who haven't heard from each other for some time. One morning Terry calls Leah and starts a conversation that just won't finish. The calls keep coming and become progressively less pleasant. It is clear that Terry wants something but it isn't at all clear what.
Directed by Campbell Walker, the film is an intense, minimalist drama, filmed in a deceptively simple style. The accent is placed clearly upon capturing the naturalistic rhythms of everyday life and creating room to build the characters as complex, unpredictable people. Like previous Gordon Productions Uncomfortable Comfortable (1999, directed by Walker), Shifter (2000, directed by Colin Hodson) and Off (2002, also directed by Hodson), ...Uncontrollable Dancing shows us clearly recognisable parts of life in New Zealand, with a closeness we aren't used to seeing in New Zealand films.
Originally shot over an intense five-day period in December 1999 the film has taken nearly four years to complete and has been entirely self-funded. Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing was based on real events in the life of lead actor Nia Robyn, who plays Leah, and then developed using a further refinement of the script-free approach of the previous Gordon Productions
It features an original soundtrack by New York based avant garde guitar legend Loren Connors, who was so impressed by a rough cut sent to him by Walker that he agreed to score the film. His contribution, like all the cast and crew's, was given gratis, based on the belief in the film and the lo-fi philosophy inherent in this style of film making.
Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing is one of the most original and quietly compelling films to be released in New Zealand this year. It will screen in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch in the New Zealand Film Festival in July.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Campbell Walker on (04) 385 95 98 or Mhairead Connor on 027 686 0107.
Wellington Thursday July 24 Paramount 9pm Thursday July 31 City Gallery 3pm
Auckland Sunday July 27 Academy 1pm
Christchurch Friday August 15 Rialto 2pm Sunday August 17 Rialto 1.15pm
The Rise Of The Digital Feature
Digital film has become such a nebulous term that trying to define it as a type or genre of film is misleading at best. What people are usually referring to when they talk about digital film is the creation (or large parts thereof) of a film through digital technology. Digital technology is used extensively in post-production and has been for many years. Sound, editing, special effects are all areas that are now almost exclusively digital. But digital has extended beyond post-production. In the race to become a viable and total alternative to film, cheap (and not so cheap) digital cameras have been created that generate broadcast quality image. Whether it is as good as or better than film is an argument that hasn't been resolved and probably never will be. What is unarguable though is that with the advent of digital video cameras, and editing systems that can be operated from a desk-top computer, digital is far, far cheaper.
What that has done is allow film makers to access, and in some cases to own, the means of producing films. The result has been a major change in the way films are made and financed, especially within the low-budget arthouse area. Both established and new filmmakers are starting to eschew the traditional methods of finance and production to produce often unique, stylistically distinctive films that can ignore the requirements of mass appeal and investor return that can stifle other, larger budget efforts.
Internationally, low-budget digital filmmaking has been both disrupting and becoming part of the mainstream. Since the arrival of the Danish Dogme 95 films The Idiots and The Celebration, at Cannes in 1998, many celebrated art film directors are shooting digitally. These new directors are exploring different ways of telling their stories with different techniques. Minimalist Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (10), has now sworn off using film ever again. Once New Wave, French film-maker Eric Rohmer's latest film The Lady and the Duke, was shot digitally to enable the post-production addition of digitally-created period sets to filmed action. Closer to the mainstream, an increasing number of middle-budget films are shot using high end digital cameras (Spy Kids 2, Lovely and Amazing), or even cheap DV cameras (Roger Dodger, Tadpole).
In a film industry like New Zealand’s the expense involved in feature film making and the lack of financial resources have traditionally limited the scope of what is made. A totally digitally produced film seems to be a viable and affordable option.
The new possibilities represented by this technology are being explored by a variety of New Zealand film makers. Some of this is taking place within the broadcast television sphere, which is where this technology originated. But where the most interesting impact is being made - and where it has the potential to significantly re-shape the production paradigm - is in the emergence of several distinctive low budget, independent feature films, mostly made by younger filmmakers working outside the established industry.
In 1999, Uncomfortable Comfortable, a film produced by Wellington-based Gordon Productions for a total budget of under $7000, premiered at the New Zealand film festival. Stylistically, it was a marked departure from most publicly screened New Zealand films and it received significant critical praise. Audiences across New Zealand responded well to the depiction of events and characters that they were familiar with but had never seen on film before.
Around the same time, a young Auckland-based film maker called Florian Habicht, was the first film maker to receive production funding (in the form of a Creative New Zealand Screen Innovation Production Fund grant) for a non-documentary feature length film which was to be shot entirely on digital video. The film was called Liebestraum, completed in 2000, a surreal biopic of oddball Auckland musician Killer Ray, who now lives in Thailand.
From 2000-2002 there were a number of digital films made by young New Zealand film makers that increased both the attention and the audience that had resulted from the first films. Gordon Productions produced Shifter in 2000 and, with Prang City, co-produced OFF in 2002, both directed by Colin Hodson. The Shirt, which had originally been a short film, was remade into a digital feature, directed by industry regular John Laing. another Veteran filmmaker, Michael Heath, made a short feature, A Small Life (2000), that has played widely around the world. The Waiting Place, directed by Cristobal Araus Lobos, played across New Zealand in the 2001 Film Festival. More clearly genre-based work such as Phil Davidson's Kung-Fu Vampire Killers (2001) and Scott Boswell's Motiveless Suburban Killer (2002) has begun to make a mark.
This year there are an unprecedented number of locally made digital features in the New Zealand Film Festival. Why can’t I stop this Uncontrollable Dancing? director Campbell Walker's follow-up to Uncomfortable Comfortable and I Think I’m Going, directed by Alex Greenhough, represent the Wellington contingent, both are completely self-funded. From Auckland come, award-winning short-film maker Gregory King's debut feature Christmas and Florian Habicht's second feature Woodenhead, both of which received production funding from Creative New Zealand and post-production funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.
At its essence digital film making presents significant opportunities for film makers. The accessibility of the technology allows a creative and financial freedom that has resulted in the production of several remarkable films. These opportunities still remain to be fully explored, particularly for larger films and for producers choosing to work with digital feature film makers but for the development of New Zealand cinema, which has always been inhibited by the massive costs associated with feature film, the possibilities are very exciting.
Whatever the outcome the low-budget digital-film will inevitably change the landscape of our National cinema and the evidence of this will screen throughout the country in the New Zealand film festival this July. Go to one and be impressed, go to all and be converted.
Campbell Walker - Director, Co-Producer, Editor
Campbell has been one of the pioneers of no-budget digital feature making in New Zealand. His first film as director was Uncomfortable Comfortable (1999), the first of the current breed of digital features to be seen widely in New Zealand. Since then, he has worked in a wide range of roles on various local digital features, often as part of the Gordon Productions collective with Diane McAllen and Colin Hodson. (see Filmography). Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing is his second feature as director. In May 2003, he received Creative New Zealand funding for what is intended as the third feature, provisionally entitled Cabin Fever.
Three Nights (short, 1997) Director, co-producer, co-editor, camera.
Uncomfortable Comfortable (feature, 1999)
Director, co-producer, co-editor.
(New Zealand Film Festival 1999)
Shifter (feature, 2000, dir: Colin Hodson)
Camera, co-producer, performer.
(New Zealand Film Festival, 2000)
Off (feature, 2002, dir: Colin Hodson)
(New Zealand Film Festival 2002)
Christmas (feature, 2003, dir: Gregory King)
(New Zealand Film Festival 2003)
I Think I'm
Going (feature, 2003, dir: Alexander Greenhough)
(New Zealand Film Festival 2003)
Havana Taxi (Doco, 2003, dir: Tim Rose) Editor. In post-production.
Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable
Dancing (Feature, 2003) Director, editor,
(New Zealand Film Festival 2003)
Diane McAllen - Producer
Diane McAllen began
collaborating with Campbell Walker under the name Gordon
Productions in 1997 with her first experimental short video
Spirit Level. She was co-producer for the four Gordon
Production features, Uncomfortable Comfortable, Shifter, Off
and Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing. Consistent
to the small budget video feature production ideal, Diane
did sound recording for for some of Uncomfortable, and most
of Shifter and Off, having to adapt to the challenges
created by an improvisational environment
Diane has continued to make short experimental videos including an odd hand drawn animated western called A Quick Draw and Other an exploration into the identity of a past love's new flame. She currently resides in Wellington and works part time for the New Zealand Film Archive.
Nia Robyn - Lead
Nia Phipps nee Robyn Venables now lives in Barcelona with her husband.
She made her first feature with Gordon Productions when she appeared in Uncomfortable Comfortable as Alice the passive aggressive girlfriend of Dale (Colin Hodson)
Gravitating as much as life allows towards the arts and currently working in a gallery of Spanish artists, Nia´s artistic credits since leaving NZ in 2000 include a photography exhibition Old St, London 2001, a videography project for The Beta Band (EMI) 2000 and persuing personal photography/writing projects while working as a researcher/technician in a stock footage library, London.
Loren Connors - Music
Loren Connors is a New York-based guitarist who has been performing and composing since the 1970s. He is a vanguard member of the international improvised music scene, and has performed widely across America and Europe. He has performed and recorded with a wide range of musicians including Keiji Haino, Alan Licht, Jim O'Rourke, John Fahey, Thurston Moore and numerous others.
His music is characterised by a stark, suspended electric-guitar sound exploring the outer limits of what can be described as blues music. He has released numerous albums over the last 20 years, many self-recorded and released.
Gordon (full name "Gordon Bailterspace") first met Diane and Campbell in 1994 at the Wellington SPCA where he was a temporary resident. His role as Executive Producer at Gordon Productions mostly involved being supportive of creative ideas and ensuring that his meals were not forgotten, even during a shoot. Plans for his own production "Lessons on the Art of Ratcatching" were regrettably cut short by his untimely death in October 2002. He died of cancer at the mature age, for a cat, of eleven years. He is sadly missed by all those who worked and played with him and is a loss to the underground film making community in Wellington.
Why Can’t I stop this Uncontrollable Dancing?
A Gordon Production, copyright 2003
Director: Campbell Walker
Producers: Diane McAllen, Campbell Walker
Associate Producer: Mhairead Connor
Camera: Jeff Hurrell
Sound recording: James Knuckey, Mark Williams
Editor: Campbell Walker
Sound Editors: Dayton Lekner, Chris Barrett
Leah: Nia Robyn
Terry: Alexander Briley
Alex: Alex Still