Last year our very own Jessi Colon created a gorgeous pole dance film in our studio. We took some time to learn more about her inspiration, and the awesome accolades her film is receiving! Lone Signal will be featured March 10th-12th at the Vieques Film Festival. You can learn more here.
Jessi, we heard you made a film- say what!?
I did! Last year I decided to try and make a little tiny pole dance film- just three-and-a-half minutes. It is called Lone Signal, and I made it with a badass film director, Bat-Sheva Guez. I had never created specifically for film before, and I was just kind of interested in seeing what it’s like to make something where the end product was something different than a live performance. It was a total shot in the dark, with a lot of figuring it out as I went along.
What inspired you to make it?
A combination of things- first, I was in the B&P Work-Study program, and in navigating my goals, my mentor Michelle Stanek suggested I make a short piece focusing on lines and length. Being the gold-star earner that I am, I decided that I wanted to use the assignment to generate something filmed.
I frequently work with the amazing DJ Kid Koala- and I have always wanted to dance to his signature routine, Moon River. But when performing with him, it’s really his solo moment on stage. So I thought this would be a fun way to dance to a piece of music that is so close to my heart. Once I had the assignment and the music, I got more and more invested as I began to imagine a set, a feeling, and the process of making a film.
What was the process like making it?
#ROLLERCOASTERofLOVE! A friend of mine connected me to Bat-Sheva, and bless her, she led me through the way. We had about a million meetings, emails and GoogleDocs to play with concepts, come up with references and plan out everything from budget to shot list to post-production. My darlingly dedicated husband took a week off work to help run around collecting materials and cutting out thousands of paper stars to build a set on our budget made up primarily of passion.
Body & Pole was amazingly supportive and we shot in the ground studio from New Years Eve to New Year’s Day. I took about 30 hours including set up, filming and break down. Also, I had the flu. Did I mention this was terrifyingly ambitious?
After we filmed, Kelly McLaughlin came on board and helped edit alongside of Bat-Sheva- which was a really interesting collaboration between a pole dancer’s eye and a lay-person’s eye.
Every day from start to finish, my range of feelings ebbed and flowed between “this is the worst idea ever and it’s never going to happen” to “we are superheros!!! This is the best” about a million times. I feel like Bat-Sheva granted me a B.A. in filmmaking throughout the process.
How has the reception been?
It’s been amazing- beyond anything I could have imagined! We’ve been featured in three film festivals- The Outlet Dance Film Festival, Roxey Ballet Dance on Screen, and this month, the Vieques International Film Festival. It’s been truly an honor to be featured amongst all these amazing films. One of my favorite parts is that it’s been a unique opportunity to share pole with an non-pole audience. Unsurprisingly, people who aren’t familiar with the form are blown away by the pole technique itself.
During a Q&A at the Outlet Dance Film Festival an audience member asked us filmmakers about our inspiration. When I said I wanted the film to feel like “a letter home,” the whole audience sighed with resonance. This was an extraordinary moment of validation for me- they felt what we were aiming to evoke. Plus, how cool that this is a lasting stand-alone piece of art that I can have as a part of my portfolio and history as an artist and athlete forever.
Despite my many promises to every around me that I’d never put myself, or anyone else, though this again- I wanna do it again!!! I’m working towards getting better funding for the next one, and aim to have a larger cast beyond myself. I learned a lot from producing Lone Signal, and also from seeing the other films at the festivals; I’m excited to employ this expanded knowledge, and continue to learn. I have a couple projects in very early stages- so stay tuned!
About Lone Signal
Lone Signal is a short film in which nostalgia nuzzles the futuristic, as a dancer reaches out to connect with loved ones left behind. In a paper moon universe, our dancer attempts to send a message back home through an unusual and mystifying method of communication. Set to DJ Kid Koala’s modern rendition of Moon River, Lone Signal is a wistful and romantic little ride.