We found this great fantastic interview with MAKE YOUR MOVE director, Duane Adler, by Mae Abdulbaki from Punch Drunk Critics. In the interview, Duane discusses his transition from screenwriter to director, how it felt directing Derek Hough & Boa in their first film roles, and how writes and envisions a dance scene! Duane also talks about his possible next directing project, which sounds very interesting! We’ve included some of our favorite parts before, but be sure to click here to read the entire article!
You said that you felt you were the best person to direct this movie. Was there another director attached to the project at any point in time?
No. This was something I pitched. I wanted to do an East meets West story. An American boy and an Asian girl. And I felt like tap dance was underutilized as an art form in movies. There hasn’t been a tap dance movie in years, probably since Tap in the late ’80s. I was kind of watching what was going on in Tap and there were some tap dancers and I watched what they did and I was like, “this is really cool!”
It’s very edgy and raw and urban. So I knew I wanted the lead character to be a tap dancer. I was looking for something for my love interest that would really have a percussion element to go along with the tap dancing and something that’s unique to Asian culture. And I thought, “what about taiko drums? Those are really cool, I love those things.” So I Googled tap dance and taiko drums just to see if anybody had done something or was doing anything with those instruments, and I found this group in New York called Cobu.
As a director, how was it working with first-time actor Derek Hough and with BoA in her first English-speaking role?
You know, as a director, I couldn’t have asked for more from both of them and I couldn’t have felt luckier because they were both workaholics. Neither of them had done a movie before. Derek was on the West End when he was 18, but never been in a movie before. But obviously from being on the show [Dancing with the Stars], he was very camera-savvy and very used to working with a lot of people around.
And BoA, she’d grown up around the spotlight, so that part of it was easy for both of them. But the challenge for both of them, and was something that they both embraced, was the work that it takes to be relaxed on camera and to not feel the pressure of having to be perfect every time. Both in the dance numbers as well as the acting. To be able to know that this isn’t live television and that we can take two or three takes. They can warm up into this. They both just went with it and trusted me and trusted the process. We asked an enormous amount of them. They started dance rehearsals five weeks before we started shooting. They lived in the dance studio with the choreographers and the dancers. And they embraced it all and were ready to go.
When you sit down to write, coming from a dance perspective, do you imagine the dance scenes in your head as you’re writing certain scenes?
Yeah. Yeah, I do. When I write a dance scene, I do write on the page a lot describing it. I don’t try to describe the dance moves though. I don’t try to say, “she spins on toes in a three-spin pirouette.” I don’t get into the technical terms, but I try to take the reader on an emotional journey. I ask myself before I write any dance numbers, “what’s the story of this dance?” And that’s where I start. What are the characters trying to express? What are they trying to say? Not unlike how a musical would work, when the character breaks into song, and that’s what’s happening here with our characters.
Each time Derek and BoA dance, we’re furthering the story and they’re saying something to the other person that they’re not saying in words. So I’ll put that on the page and might write
a page and a half, a page, describing that. And then I’d share that with the choreographers and the music department. And Derek actually wrote one of the songs with that in mind. He co-wrote the “Let Me In” song when they do the beautiful duet in the studio. So it’s all really a collaborative experience, but it does all start with what I envision when I’m writing it.
What I didn’t want to do with this movie is make it a dance battle movie. I wanted to make these dances in this movie much more intimate. Much more storytelling. I didn’t want the movie to feel like it stops for a dance number. I wanted the dances to be dramatic and sensual and romantic. Just two characters expressing themselves.
Read the rest of this great interview here!