Below is the continuation of MakeYourMoveFans’ EXCLUSIVE interview with screenwriter and director, Duane Adler. Duane’s responses to our questions are thoughtful, engaging, enlightening, and at times riveting. His disclosures help the reader to better understand the mind and the intent of the Make Your Move 3D’s screenwriter and creative artist.
If you missed Part I, you will definitely want to catch up here. Enjoy Part II below. 🙂
Part II – The Cast
MakeYourMove3D Fans: Make Your Move 3D has a really diverse cast of characters in terms of ethnicity. Was that by design?
Duane: It was absolutely by design. Our story is set in New York, in Brooklyn specifically, which is one of the most ethnically diverse cities and neighborhoods in the world. I wanted the film to feel that variety. The diversity of our cast feels very today, especially as our world has shrunk on a global scale, and young people are exposed to so much cultural range, both in the classroom and via the internet. Kids in schools across the States look at their classmates and see people that look like our cast – people with blonde hair & blue eyes, Asian girls, African American guys, African American girls, Asian guys, etc. (well, maybe not all classrooms are as good looking as our cast but you get the point!). Here’s a little story I like to share: When I wrote the character “Nick” (played by Wesley Jonathan), I wrote him as an African American half-brother to Derek Hough’s “Donny,” who was written as white. The brothers grew up together and they have the bond of brothers, but the movie makes very little of them being different races. Here’s the coolest thing: Not one audience member who’s seen the film has questioned their brotherhood, which I think is terrific. That reaction says a lot about how smart audiences have gotten to the world around them. Let me be frank: Our film industry as a whole is still conservative when it comes to colorblind or multi-ethnic casting. We’re very lucky on MYM to have distribution partners who share this vision of diversity. But there were some distributors (and I won’t name names) who were concerned how American audiences would react to an Asian girl as one of our leads. I was like “are you kidding me? What world do these people live in?” I’ll gladly take that challenge, because I think audiences are incredibly smart, and I wouldn’t change one thing about our casts’s ethnic diversity.
MakeYourMove3D Fans: We’ve heard that from the beginning, you had BoA in mind to be the leading lady for this film. Why did you select her? How did you know of her?
Duane: I did have BoA in mind very early. I was introduced to her (not to her personally but to her as a talent) a few years before I was writing the script. A filmmaker friend of mine showed me a music video from BoA, and he told me, “This girl is blowing up in Japan and Korea, very few artists have ever done that in both countries, and she’s someone you should be aware of.” He knew I liked exploring cross-cultural stories and wanted to do something with an American/Asian love story. This friend’s name is Phillip Rhee by the way, star of the film series, “Best of the Best.” Anyway – when I saw this video of BoA all those years ago, I thought she was an incredibly dynamic performer, but more so, I was charmed by her behind the scenes. She wasn’t speaking English in the clips I saw, but her personality really came across as genuine. Then years later, as I was writing the script, BoA’s American debut album came out, and her videos, specifically “Eat You Up,” showed me that little girl I had watched before was now a very engaging, sexy, and strong young woman. Before I pursued her, though, the thing that most impressed me was several interviews she did to promote the American album. There she was in those interviews, an Asian girl in America, who had something to say, and a way to express herself that was all her own. That is what really pushed me to say “BoA needs to play ‘Aya’.” When you make a dance movie today, you can’t cast actors who can’t dance, audiences are too savvy and know immediately if you’re faking it. BoA is a phenomenal dancer, and she’s a fine young actress as well. And of course MYM has no stunt double dancers – every dancer on screen is doing their own dancing!
For our followers who are not too familiar with BoA, check this out! Below is a video of BoA singing her first English single, Eat You Up, from her first English album, BoA. You’ll see what Duane saw in this multi-talented gal.
MakeYourMove3D Fans: How did you decide upon Derek Hough as the leading man for the film?
Duane: I knew I needed a good actor who could dance – “Donny” is a complex, challenging role, and the actor had to have some chops. At the same time, he needed to be able to dance, and I don’t mean move, I mean DANCE. So as we were pursuing BoA, I got invited to a taping of “Dancing With the Stars.” I actually went to the show to try and meet with Nicole Scherzinger’s manager when she and Derek were partnered. Derek was phenomenal that night – he & Nicole both were – but I couldn’t believe how fast his feet were and the way his body moved. I was blown away. I would also watch him between takes, when he wasn’t in his “tv persona” and he was so relaxed, personable, and confident. I was impressed. After that, we reached out to his reps to meet. Derek walked into producer Robert Cort’s office as a calm, cool, confident young man who wanted to prove something – not unlike “Donny.” Derek had studied at a performing arts school in London from about 12-years old to 18, so he had acting training even though he had not done a movie yet. We screen tested him shortly after and he rocked the test. I also felt this about Derek: His career as a dancer was built around making his partner/leading lady feel safe and secure. I knew that that journey was part of Donny & Aya’s relationship, Donny had to woo her and make her feel safe (that’s what happens when you fall in love), and I felt Derek’s natural instincts in that regard that would come through. They certainly did and then some!
For our followers who don’t know Derek, in the video below, Derek is dancing with Nicole Scherzinger on Dancing With The Stars. This is the same night that Duane attended the taping and saw Derek in action for the fist time.
MakeYourMove3D Fans: In selecting Derek (who is primarily known as a professional dancer and choreographer) and BoA (who is primarily known as a singer and dancer), you were launching their movie careers. How do you feel about that?
Duane: I am very proud of them and I’m incredibly proud that they star in their first movie with me directing. I just hope they remember who I am one day as their careers get bigger and bigger! A director should always be so lucky to work with such focused, driven talent who have work ethics off the chart. Both Derek and BoA were eager to grow as artists and dancers and as people, and they embraced every challenge. For example, Derek hadn’t worn tap shoes since he was 12 or 13 years old, BoA had never worn them, yet they both were so excited by the learning and practice, it was amazing to watch. Derek would sometimes book his own studio time to practice tap at 1 or 2 in the morning when he was still working on “Dancing With the Stars”! BoA had also never played the taiko drum, yet she would practice with Yako till there were blisters on her hands to make it look like “Aya” had played them her whole life. I love them both and look forward to watching them soar.
MakeYourMove3D Fans: How did you feel about introducing BoA to American audiences?
Duane: I am so excited to know American audiences will have a chance to get to know this amazing young woman. BoA has been a professional entertainer since she was about fourteen years old, she’s a pro, simple as that. But she’s also a very sweet, giving person who loves to laugh and be silly. A lot of that comes out on screen and I think audiences will enjoy spending time with her.
MakeYourMove3D Fans: Do you have a favorite moment (or moments) working on set with Derek? BoA? The entire cast?
Duane: Wow, that’s a tricky question because they were all amazing. Each dance number was just a blast, because they were all so unique. Our opening number, where “Donny” dances in New Orleans, was fantastic, we were right on Bourbon Street with a giant crane. Awesome. All the dance numbers were so fun, because each dance in our film has a different personality, so each dance had its own “language” – and by that I mean what the characters were communicating and saying to one another, and as a result, the techniques we would use to shoot each dance scene would vary. I think one of my favorites to shoot though wasn’t a dance scene at all, it’s a scene that takes place about half an hour into the movie. Donny and Aya have just met, they’ve shared their first dance, then left the club in a taxi together. Aya’s brother Kaz pursues them. The scene takes place in the middle of the night on the streets of NY, and our actors just killed it. All four leads were there, Derek, BoA, Wesley, and Will Yun Lee, it’s 4 a.m. in the morning, we had to finished by 5 a.m. because the sun was coming up then, and the shoot was just magical, the cast and crew were amazing. I remember going up to Derek, BoA, Wesley & Will between takes and saying “This is what the movie is about, it’s about the four of you, your love and care for each other, that’s what is going to carry us.” It’s a very cinematic scene, a dramatic scene, our music team scored it wonderfully, and our camera team lit and shot the heck out of it. That was a very special night among many special nights making MYM.
Coming Soon! Part III – The Music.