An EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Duane Adler, “Make Your Move 3D” Screenwriter and Director

Our team here at Make Your Move Fans was fortunate enough to secure an exclusive interview with Duane Adler, the screenwriter and director of Make Your Move 3D. Duane was also the screenwriter for the popular Step Up movies and Save The Last Dance. Here is more information about him.

Our team gathered questions that we thought would interest our followers and Duane’s responses have proven to be thoughtful, reflective, and insightful. The interview will be presented in the following parts:

  • Part I – The Film
  • Part II – The Cast
  • Part III – The Music
  • Part IV – The Film Promotion


Here is the first of the four parts. Enjoy! 🙂

Part I – The Film

Make Your Move Fans: Make Your Move 3D was described as a passion project for you. You waited 7 years to create it and made it your directing debut. Why was this movie so important for you to make?

Duane: I love dance and music as art forms, they both truly speak an international language.  Several of the movies I’ve been part of have been dance movies, and I’m lucky the audience has received those films so well, and been inspired by them.  When I was in the early stage of writing MYM, I made the decision I needed to be the director, so I could have more tools to tell my story. I wanted the dance itself to harken back a bit to more classic dance movies, meaning each time a dance number occurred, we were moving the characters or story forward (or sometimes backward), but I never wanted the movie to feel like the story stopped and characters started dancing.  I also wanted the dance to be bathed in a feeling of romance, of courtship and love.  I was very passionate about that. It’s one thing to write that goal/description, however, it’s another to discuss with your choreographers and actors and DP and costume designer, etc. and shape the movie around those ideas.  I wanted to have those conversations!  And I also felt we hadn’t seen a dance film with an international cast like this, certainly not one driven by a love story like ours.  It’s very important to me that my projects represent a version of the world we live in, a truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural world.

Duane Adler #5

Duane Adler with “Make Your Move 3D’s” Cobu Girls

Make Your Move Fans: It has been widely reported that Yako Miyamoto’s COBU group inspired this film. How did you arrive at the idea to connect a COBU group to a Romeo and Juliet themed film? They hardly seem similar.

Duane: Many years ago (before MYM existed in any form), I was pitching a tap dance movie.  I love tap and it has been an underused art form for decades.  That project did not sell.  In a separate project, I was trying to do a multi-cultural love story about an American boy and a Japanese girl.  That project was a drama with music, a bit of a “Romeo & Juliet” angle, but it was not a dance movie.  It did not sell either!  One day, I’m sitting at my computer licking my wounds over these projects not getting a chance, and I’m going, “How do I marry these two ideas together?” because I really thought there was something there.  I knew I wanted to use tap dance, so I asked myself, “What is a musical instrument that lends itself to Japanese culture?”  I immediately thought of the taiko drum, so I literally Googled “tap funk dance taiko drum” – and I discovered Yako’s group COBU out of NYC!  There were some super cool video clips and her website, I watched her work and was mesmerized!  I contacted her and said, “I love your work, can we meet?”  I flew to NYC, saw them perform, had a great conversation and I told her, “The movie industry takes a loooong time, this will not happen quickly!”  I warned her!  Ha!  It has taken a while but it’s been worth it.  I wanted each of our two leads, Donny (Derek) and Aya (BoA), to have their own unique dance, a form of dance that was their own “language,” him with tap and her with the drums.  But Aya and her group in the film are not only drummers, they are like musicians, they use the drums and tap shoes and hip hop music – Donny then is captivated by her and her style and confidence.  And ironically, he’s found in her, a foreign girl, someone who “speaks his language” in dance.  Yako Miyamoto has an enormous confidence and courage in what she does, so that courage certainly carried over to inspire in part the character Aya.

Duane Adler, Tabitha D'umo, Derek Hough, and Napoleon D'umo (Nappytabs)

Duane Adler, Tabitha D’umo, Derek Hough, and Napoleon D’umo (Nappytabs)

Make Your Move Fans: Is there anything that you would do differently now that the film is finalized?

Duane: Every movie takes on its own identity, much of that identity is obviously born out of the director’s vision, and part is born out of your production schedule and budget limitations, out of your collaboration with other filmmakers on the film (and by filmmaker I mean from producers to casting to choreographers to DP to editor down to the daily crew, we’re all filmmakers) and the cast – if one element of any of those things is different, it could result in a completely different movie. So in that regard I’d say no, I worked with some amazing people to see this movie realized and I’m proud of what we all worked so tirelessly to create.


Make Your Move Fans: Are you surprised at how well the film has done in Europe where the main stars, Derek Hough, BoA Kwon, Will Yun Lee, and Wesley Jonathan are not widely known, if at all?

Duane: I think you’re always surprised and grateful when your film finds an audience and that audience responds positively.  To me, if someone in the audience walks away inspired and moved, and entertained, we’ve done our job!  I’m very proud of our cast, they worked incredibly hard and they are all enormously talented and diverse. Derek, BoA, Will, and Wesley are smart, wonderful people, and I think that comes across onscreen, along with their individual uniqueness.  All those traits combined will hopefully speak (and do speak) volumes to our audience watching in any language.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 5.28.12 PM

Make Your Move Fans: People are comparing Make Your Move 3D to the Step Up movies. Is that a fair comparison?

Duane: I’ve been fortunate to be part of some amazing filmmaking teams on other dance movies, specifically “Save the Last Dance” and of course “Step Up,” so I think my involvement on MYM is going to start that comparison.  I think our dance and our story is unique to itself, though, and I think audiences will find that true when they see the film.  Our dance and dance fusion styles are unlike any of the other dance films, and the multi-cultural love story is a further fusion, plus it’s a love story we don’t often see on film. MYM has an underdog story, too, and shares the story of characters who dream of better lives and goals.  Those are human themes that resonate well in film, and inspire audiences when watching, whether it’s MYM or “Step Up” or a number of other wish-fulfilling premises.  “Step Up” films are unique; I like to think MAKE YOUR MOVE is equally uniquely its own.

Part II of Duane’s interview (The Cast) will follow shortly.


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