The last man on Earth sits alone in a room as three boys spend a sleep over telling each other horror stories. A cross over occurs between a fictional man's life in solitude and the future of one of the boy's very own reality.
Written & Directed by Nathan Smith & Thomas Pollard
Choreographer: Alisdair Macindoe (Nickname: Ted)
Release date: 2013
Written & Directed by Nathan Smith & Thomas Pollard
Choreographer: Alisdair Macindoe (Nickname: Ted)
Release date: 2013
Artist Interview: NATHAN SMITH & THOMAS POLLARD
Interview by Melissa Ramos recorded via Skype between Sydney & Melbourne on 20 June 2019. Includes MUSIC from KNOCK
RUNNING MAN details
Vimeo: Running Man Vimeo
Vimeo: Running Man Vimeo
IntervieW Transcript: NATHAN SMITH & THOMAS POLLARD
Melissa Ramos: Running Man is a film production you both founded together in 2013. Can you tell us why you formed Running Man and what was your purpose as a film production?
Thomas Pollard: We could go all the way back to the start. So Nathan and I used to work at Hoyts Cinema in high point together. This is back in high school. Nathan was a bit older than me and then we went to the same school as well. He was helping out with the musical productions there, which I was performing in as well. And so basically through high school, we kind of became friends. And then through working at Hoyts and watching films together, we kind of seem to developed this really similar taste in films and movies. And then we also started working at Her Majesty's Theatre together, which is in the middle of Melbourne, and we were watching a lot of shows together. We kind of seem to follow each other around in jobs. Well, I followed Nathan, basically. We started working at Arts Centre and Melbourne Theatre Company, and yeah, we just kind of see we're consuming so much arts, films and dance that we kind of I wanted to start putting it to use.
Nathan Smith: Yeah. So I, through this time I studied dance at the VCA and Tom studied film at Swinburne. It was at the right time for both of us that we both went, hey, we're consuming a lot of art, let's start creating something. And it was a no brainer from my dance and film to go, well, let's make a dance film. And that was it at the beginning.
Thomas Pollard: Yeah, exactly.
Melissa Ramos: So your first dance film, was it something that Nathan; did you lead Tom to do? Because Tom was dance films new to you?
Thomas Pollard: I think it was, it was Nathan kind of spear heading the project initially. It felt like it was very much like Nathan had these kind of grand ideas. And I kind of went. "Nah, we can't actually pull that off, theres no way we can pull that." So it's kind of narrowing it down a bit to how we can actually achieve the ideas in a really stylistic way and stay; tell the story that we wanted to tell and not compromise on that side of it as well. And so the first one we did was like, really, it's not. It wasn't "KNOCK". It was called "AND TO HOLD". Which was a small, almost a short story, which only took one evening, and one morning. To shoot and kind of put into capture on the day. But there was a lot of work that went into it before that and after that. But we kind of tried to initially start off with something that we knew was manageable in terms of the actual shoot and in terms of expenses and stuff.
Nathan Smith: It was sort of our test run. It was our; we think we have the right brains or the right set of ideas to make a dance film. So, it was a simple concept. And something that was sort of easy to, some say is achievable. So that was sort of our first test and we were really happy with how that turned out. And we were lucky it was selected for a few dance film festivals. And then that really got the ball rolling in, us sort of going, okay, let's go bigger. Let's try and push our own boundaries and see what we can actually come up with. And the next thing we thought to work on was "KNOCK".
Melissa Ramos: So from that work, how did you start working on "KNOCK"
Nathan Smith: Yeah, so "KNOCK" it is completely different to "AND TO HOLD". "KNOCK" started as a Facebook post (laughs) I read, which was like the most thrilling short story is a sentence long and that sentence is the last man on earth sat alone in a room when suddenly there was a knock on the door. And the way we kind of develop our ideas is one of us will bring, you know, something like that, or a concept or an idea to the other. Just, you know, at a pub having a counter meal or going for coffee or whatever. And you know; we'll write out sort of the first; sort of talk through the idea and what we think can be achieved. So first, we just work with this kind of image of a person just being in a room and going through that kind of, how would they move and why would they be there? And then Tom has a lot more script writing experience and story development. So then we sort of question, well, how do you get into this room and why is he there? And is he's looking for something? And why is he the only person left or why did he think that? And so we; kind of just keep bouncing ideas like, back and forth and sort of, you know, do a draft together, leave it for a week, come back to have a chat. Have new ideas or see different ways that we can explore it. And yeah...
Thomas Pollard: Yeah. I think "KNOCK" was the first example of us trying to put the dance into the story without feeling forced. And so it had to have a purpose and to have a reason to be there and "KNOCK" was that first kind of marriage of how? Yeah. We tried to tie those two elements together without it being too forced and without the audience kind of being taken out of the story because of it. And so that's how it really; the dance seemed to really work. When you're telling a story about a man who has no other contact with any other person. So how. But what happens to a person when they're in that isolation? How do they express themselves? That's kind of how that all came about. And it was even it was heightened and taken to the even next level by the dancer. We got on board how we developed that character and that style of movement.
Melissa Ramos: So the main character he's named Ted?
Nathan Smith: Yes. He's names Alistair, his nickname Ted. He is an amazing dancer. He's done a lot of work with Lucy Guerin and he's creating his own work. Having been seeing a lot of dance in Melbourne at the time, we wrote it with Ted in mind and just kind of had our fingers crossed that he would be willing to join. So we sort, of sent him an email and said, hey, do you want to come and have a chat about this? And he ran with the idea and took it even further from the very first meeting. He was just on board, with an amazing talent and we just knew that was the right collaboration for this story and for this film.
Melissa Ramos: Wow. So you wrote it for Ted. Could you tell me about how he pushed it further? Did he develop the choreography for that? Or Nathan, did you bounce ideas with him?
Nathan Smith: He, Ted has an amazing movement style. It's very unique. And so we didn't want to try and make him change the way he moved. And we wanted to really capture the way he moved in and enhance it and celebrate it. So I guess, for this one, we actually took a more directorial role in it in sort of placing him in situations and locations and sort of giving him scenarios to work through, especially sort of with all the photos and such. What we wanted to represent or what we wanted to express. I guess for "KNOCK" dance is a vocabulary, he doesn't until the end, he actually doesn't have dialogue. So all of his words and all of his feelings, expressions all need to be done through movement. So we worked and guided Ted through that. We would have some rehearsals he would do an improv and then we pick elements of it. We would we filmed it and we'd go back and look at it with him and sort of say, hey, this was great, we'd love to develop this or can we do that? But have you lean against a chair or against a wall and just sort of. Yeah, like put him in locations and in a way that we can sort of enhance, not also the narrative, but the way he moved.
Thomas Pollard: Yeah, I agree. I remember the first time we kind of met up with Ted to see what he thought and what we thought the movement could be. I was kind of in awe of you and the way he was able to convey that the loneliness and also the this really, really strange kind of staccato style of movement that it fit so well to what essentially that character been through. He's the only man on earth here in the world. And he's he's survived some form of event, that's whipped everything out. That's kind of the parameters we gave to the story. And I remember watching that from him and I was blown away by it. And he had and it's almost as though when he was first moving, he was doing this, the editing in the film, as though the film was happening for us. It was so strange. But so amazing. And then Nathan was brilliant in funnelling that into telling the story, like Nathan was saying placing Ted and the character of this last man. Into the framing and into the story with that movement, it was really cool. It was a great experience.
Melissa Ramos: It was spontaneous. You guys were bouncing off each other, at the same time. I really love how the narrative ends with a moment of this ambiguity and that feeling of isolation. It really takes you further. Tell me about your roles in the production and what does your collaboration look like?
Thomas Pollard: We wear a lot of hats and it ends up on the project ,really, is we're like either of us will take the lead in some way and then we can kind of the other one supports or you know, we can even switch halfway through, where like Nathan will take the first draft, and I'll take that draft off him. Write the second variation of it and producing as well. But I think you kind of hit the nail on the head a little bit before about it being a collaboration. There's no way you can do a film of such high production quality or the production quality that we wanted from this without collaborating with the right people. So, yeah, we got a really great team of like minded artists and individuals whose skillset supported the film that we were trying to make.
Nathan Smith: And we were really lucky that it was an idea that Tom and I sat with for a really long time, really let it develop in our heads and in our conversations before we were ready. We didn't try and rush it, but by the time we get we shared it with other people. It was pretty well formed and people were really excited to jump on board because there's not a lot of scripts where it just says, and he dances. (laughs) You've got this big build up and then it's just like introduce male character, male character dancers. So there was a lot of trust each other and in the team. Yeah, I think the way we work, we really...Through the art we've consumed and that we like, we that, you know, this high production value is something that we strive for and we want our work to look as great as it can because it just increases its; its reach, its accessibility. Just because sometimes and I've read a lot, you know, with dance film sounds might be ignored or other things might. You know, people don't feel it's important yet. When you sit in the cinema at a festival and watch your film, you really have to make sure that you covered all aspects of film. And we were just lucky to get great collaborators in. And when we make our films, yeah, like we wear many hats, and we share a lot of hats as well. Tom is the cinema brains of our operation. Definitely. And in a lot of times where I let Tom just guide, especially on set, Tom will guide me and you know, we'll give things, ideas and suggestions of things that I just don't know. Through not having that much experience in film yet. As a dancer, I will throw challenges all very things that I would love to accomplish, that, you know, on the usual way of a camera working. But then we find the beautiful moments that just haven't been explored, because not a lot of people in the film work with a dancer or with dance to this degree. And so they're finding those micro choreography and other areas. Were actually a really good collaboration because we just let each other lead and just and we listen to each other as well...
Melissa Ramos: Nathan, can you describe to us your background with dance? You sort of described about the micro movements. That you have your mind that you're trying to express through the film. How does your background and dance influence you to create these sort of narratives?
Nathan Smith: I guess like, I started dance from a very young age and sort of a lot, in a way that I feel that dance is a vocabulary for me. It's like another language. And sometimes it's easier to express things for me in dance and to find words for it. And so I find sometimes words are too harsh or to.. You know, they just don't have the right aesthetic that a move can have.
Thomas Pollard: Nathan also likes to use sound effects a lot in his vocabulary to describe things with sound effects and an added action. (laughs)
Nathan Smith: You can have a man standing in a room full of three thousand photos. But If I want to see the twitch in his little finger, I can get to that micro choreography and tell. We can tell the audience this is what we want you to see. We want to see really specific movements and moments which you don't have the luxury of doing on stage because the audience get to choose where to look. And I find that the story; using dance to push the narrative. We found that we've had to really, like storyboards, how to be really specific with what we're looking for and what we're trying to show, because we've had huge sort of moments in an editing suite where I was like, this is the best dance move that you'll ever see. And Tom will say, but you have will challenge me and say, okay, but how does it push the story forward when we've only got five minutes? And, you know, and we have to say, well, it doesn't. It doesn't take the story any further. Maybe it's not necessary. So, yeah, I guess cinema lets us be so specific with every dance move that they all have a role in it. And it's like saying it is a language you wouldn't put words in there just for the sake of having words or because they sounds nice. The words have, in a film have to move the story forward or give you development or something like that. And the dance has to do the same thing for our films.
Melissa Ramos: I love Tom challenges you all the time with the storyboarding.(laughs)
Nathan Smith: We have 15 years of friendship. We are really good friends too. It's all healthy. (laughs)
Melissa Ramos: Tom describe to us how you explore challenging these conventions of storytelling. What are the mechanics you have or formulas that you like to keep repeating or exploring in your directing or script writing?
Thomas Pollard: I guess what what we're both trying to do is establish a genre of dance film and film that features dance that we've never seen before, so, but also it has also to do that we need to, I guess, still pay homage and still work within the rules set of each of the disciplines. So for a film to being engaging, the audience needs to relate to it. And then start within a film that the audience relates to. That's kind of the challenge for us. That's where we where we have a lot of fun. Yeah. (laughs) Fun is probably an interesting word to put it, but that's where we've found that we get the most excited especially is probably the best way to put it. Like when we watch it back in the edit suite after we've put something together, that's we're like, oh, that was awesome. I've never seen something like that before.
Melissa Ramos: What is it about the movement that makes you go OK? Well, that's something I've never seen before. Is it the way it's pushing the story? How the movement says it that without any words? What's the fun part about it?
Thomas Pollard: Yeah, definitely. It's marrying all the disciplines together. So everything from cinematography lighting to, like Nathan was saying, sound design and the movement of the choreograph. It's putting it all together to this cohesive piece and a cohesive story that that we relate to and that we hope the audience is able to relate to as well. And then it's also, you know, playing off influences of our own, too. So, for example, like the storytelling aspect of it from the kids at the start of the film, it's very kind of "Around the twist", the kind of ABC style we've watched when we were kids and we grew up with. It's like paying homage to that side of it as well.
Nathan Smith: Yeah. And I guess the thing is our challenge is that we want the dance to be relatable to a non dance audience as a cinema audience as well. You know, we have to gently introduce them and we have to guide them through where they don't rebel well against us and go, oh, why did you just stop dancing? We want this sort of seamless sort of transition into dance where it's not like, oh, and now is the dance part of this film that the dance is of such a cinematic quality as well that and it still travels the narrative. And still pushing the narrative that you can really sort of see. You're not taken out of the world, and that's the challenge that we face, is that we want dance to be in our film and to move our films without them stopping for a dance break.
Thomas Pollard: Yeah.
Melissa Ramos: The viewers really engaged in this story and not realising their watching a dance. It's like the movement is carrying them, the thing that they're so familiar with it, but it's still telling a story through movement. So...
Melissa Ramos: I was curious, what do you personally like about working with dance on screen and do you find having a dance background helps with discovering new ways of choreographing stories on screen? I mean, per say, someone who doesn't have a background with dance?
Thomas Pollard: I'm not as strong in the dance background as Nathan is. And so, with our kind of partnership and with our friendship, Nathan is pushing me. He's kind of saying this. This is something that I want to do and this is the movement that I want to convey. And have you seen this? He's always throwing these kind of things at me that I have to then sort of fit within the film and within the cinema cinematography and within the world of the story. So it's I find it really interesting and it's a really great convention to be working with and discipline to be working with. Because when I watch mainstream film and when you watch TV, you rarely see the dance within storytelling. You see it within it's, you know, where like Nathan was saying there's a dance break in aspects like that. Sometimes you see it in comedy, which I think is really effective when it's like just thrown in there and it's something that's completely left field. Yeah. That's something that I've always found really challenging, but really invigorating as well.
Nathan Smith: And then what I love about working in dance film is that the way that Tom bringing his cinema eye and experience to it, elevates an idea that I will present. So we yeah. Like we; it bounces a lot back and forth. But I will think of something, like even just the early ideas on "KNOCK", Tom really wrangled and brought the cinema really beautiful cinematic side to it together and took it to a level that I didn't think we were capable of. Or I didn't think the idea could reach. And yet the way our films look is some. It's something that we've always sort of received a lot of feedback, really positive feedback on that. People have said the quality is great. And that's sort of and that's where our collaboration in between dance and the film lands is that we both; I try keep pushing the dance. Tom keeps pushing the cinema left side of it. And then we swap. And, you know, Tom pushes the dance, I push the cinema, but. Yeah, like, it's just. It's that way of just pushing each other's art form and challenging it as much as possible until we get something that really can't be done on stage. KNOCK, can't be performed on stage the way it's done. And so the fact that this is unique to the screen is quite special. Even thinking like; "Botchan Retreat", which is sort of the next thing that we approach together. What we've what we've really begin to. What we've got better at and is actually. Planning the dance or the action of what the narrative will be. And then turn it into dance more. I don't know if that make sense. But for instance, in "Botchan Retreat", there was a food fight. And so me; I would present this idea of a food fight and going under tables or whatever. And Tom would really bring more narrative and set, really set it and more direction to it. Knowing that it had to be captured on film so, not, given guidelines or boundaries a little bit. But so we could actually then amplify and elevate it. That sort of, that would my sort of, of me just going, hey, I want a food fight. Tom would be like "all right, cool". Let's. Why? Why is she going to go on the table? You know, or he would say let let put let's put her under the table and have him jump over, because that sets up something that happens in three scenes time.
Thomas Pollard: Yeah. In terms of KNOCK, I think it actually happened more in the edit suite. I think we'd captured it at all in two days, we were bringing it. Yeah. We were kind of rebuilding this storyline and the movement and the structure of the piece in the edit suite. And I remember specifically coming to a point close to the end of our storyline and our timeline where we still didn't really know how we were going to finish this in a way which continued the tension throughout the piece. And like, initially we had a planned as though it was like the synopsis of the film. It was going to end with our last man sitting alone in the room. But there was a knock on the door. It started that way. But it actually it's felt in the end as though we needed to build and play off the tension between the past or the present of the boys and the future. We needed into interplay. We needed to somehow work with like we had this like little ad libby scene on the day where we just got Ted to dance in the space. And we followed him around with the camera. We didn't use a lot of that stuff in the edit initially, but we ended up using a lot of it in the second half and in the tail end as a way to continue building that tension and bringing it to a crescendo point where it felt right for him to be alone in the room again. It wasn't necessarily like on the day sort of thing, but it just happens through the post-production. Yeah.
Melissa Ramos: Yeah. It happens a lot. I've been speaking to quite a lot of dance filmmakers and most of them say, once it gets the editing, changes it. And that's yeah, that's where a lot of the film sort of narrative comes out. The emotion you can really amplify and fine tune what you're trying to achieve. So yeah, that's a really good explanation. So Tom, in terms of, say you're working with an action with a dancer, do you try to understand the movement and what it means or are you more of; you try to look at it as a how does this work in the story? Or does it kind of work in both ways?
Thomas Pollard: Yeah, I think it works in both ways. Nathan is very good with explaining the reasoning for me when the specific choreography does certain things. And then it's it's about leveraging that to tell the story and how we capture that. And like Nathan were saying before with a staged performance. The audience sees one perspective of the stage, which was great with film, is that we can choose that perspective for the audience. We can pick out certain details that will tell that story in a stronger way or maybe even misdirect if we want to as well. So I think it's very important to understand why the movement is being conveyed in that with that certain characteristic or with that tempo or with that flair. And it's about how you shape it. Within the camera. Yeah.
Nathan Smith: Yeah, I think we try and get as much movement before we get onto set as well. Before we get in front of the camera, because we want to trust the movement, trust that's got that strong enough in the storytelling, that great cinematography and direction and lighting can only enhance it. Yeah. So we want to make sure that the dance aspect is strong. And you know, we do definitely adapted on the day and you collaborate with everyone around. Cinematographer might have an idea or say it a different way. We'll try everything, but we do want to make sure that it is the story and the movement are strong enough already alone that you get that cinema can only make it a stronger piece.
Thomas Pollard: You know, it's really heightened, for example, by the fact that we lost our original D.O.P director of photography like the day before we were supposed to shoot, a couple of days before. So we had another D.O.P come in, Aaron, who was awesome. He was so good. But we had to be so down pat with what we needed the movement to convey and what we needed to see in each scene that we knew that the story was being told and it wasn't, we couldn't just rely on the cinematographer to do the work for us. We had to make sure, yeah, we understood it completely from all angles.
Melissa Ramos: So that means after you guys did at a rehearsal with a dancer and try to finesse it; straight away had concrete storyboards to give to the D.O.P for "KNOCK"?
Thomas Pollard: Yeah, to a degree. We still had the section of the script that says "and he dances" so, but we knew within our scope of what we need to capture between the two of us. Yeah. What what we were after. So yeah, very much. We place the camera in and you know, Nathan would then place Ted within the scene and between the two of us we were able to manipulate. Yeah. What was happening there to tell our story.
Melissa Ramos: What does it mean, in your view, to make a dance cinematic? Is it something that is found in the way that choreography is developed or is it found in the way the film is shot? The choreography that we see? Or does it happen in the storytelling and how it executes through movement on screen?
Thomas Pollard: It all feeds into each other. That's for sure. But I think for us, the key point, that we always try to tick off is that does it serve the story? And so that it applies to everything, really, it applies to everything in terms of the way it looks. The sound design, the movement, that's kind of the big, big question for us. Because yeah, you don't want to lose the audience interest in the piece. You want to make sure that they understand that everything you're doing is serving some part of the story, whether it be character development or whether it be the story line and what's happened, what is about to happen as well.
Nathan Smith: I think like this whole idea of like the cinematic aspect of it. Everything plays a role. It's when it all... Everything has to have a strong foundation and contribute. It's the goose bumps moments. It's elevating it to a level that is beyond what you thought it could be. I guess for me, I used it as a I said dance and one and that I would describe this amazing moment where, like you've rehearsed and you've rehearsed and then you're all in the wings and then everyone runs onstage. And that's this massive jeté all the same time in your costumes and the lights are on and you get these goose bumps moments. I got yeah, I feel alive. This is why I want to be doing this. When we made Knock, I always remember this one time looking in the monitor. And Ted, was just moving beautifully. The lighting just caught everything. It just looked the setting. You just all came together. And I had goose bumps and I was like, ah, I found that moment again. And so it was just collaboration. It is a strong story. It is, if you can look great even better. But it's just making sure that every part has a value and has it and it's strong enough to carry the story. A good classical music is that crescendo moment where it all comes together, if you like. Yes, that's what I'm here for.
Melissa Ramos: I love that moment. So you talked about sound a few times about how it sort of fits in the film and the idea. How does that come in when you're developing a piece? Is sound an important part of the narrative? The sound have its own character?
Thomas Pollard: Yes, it definitely does. In terms of KNOCK, we were very adamant that we needed to make sure that his world, the world that he inhabits felt real. So that meant that we recorded all of the sound on set. All of what his movements sounded like, his feet against the floor, all that sort of stuff. The creaking of the chair was a really big one. I loved that, all that sort of stuff. It had to feel as though he existed there. At the time when you first meet him, he is a story in the boy's imaginations. But you come to realise that as you watch it, it's realer then you expect. So that was a really big thing for us. The other side of this is music and how we were going to use that to invoke that feeling of unease and tell that story alongside the movement as well. And that's something we found in post-production. We have we had ideas about what that want to what we wanted that to feel like and sound like. We didn't know that yet at the time of shooting. So that was really cool to kind of play with and discover as we were piecing the film together.
Nathan Smith: And the post-production for sound was really important as well, because if you are the last person on earth, every move you make is just gonna be amplified at some stage capturing a chair creak or a leaf crunch. And then when that's in the editing process, when that comes through and you really want every moment to almost reverberate through the scene. Yeah, because it's just so if you're the only person making noise, you know, it would be deafening. Everything's silent otherwise. And sort of finding that balance between a score that can give emotion and help travel the narrative, but also have share it with these sounds so that you do feel the loneliness still and how secluded he is.
Melissa Ramos: What are the challenges they have encountered when making this film? Is it the timing or budget or? What were the things highlighted to you guys? So that it was like, 'let's not do that again'.. (laughs)
Thomas Pollard: No, no no, it's all a challenge, to say it's not would be lying. It's like everything from, can we afford it? To.. will people actually want to watch this? Like, it's all questions that we ask ourselves. And so, yeah, it's not easy, but it's really fun. And like Nathan's was saying, it's that moment of when it all comes together and you've got this movement happening in front of a camera with this lighting that it's been open, wrangled for this one moment of the shoot day and pull it off. It's happening. And then you rediscover that in post-production. As well, it's yeah, it's all worth it. I guess, going back to the start of the interview as well, watching so much, so many shows and films and, you know, consuming all these stories just made us want to tell our own. And so, yes, while it is challenging in terms of most aspects of doing it, it's never easy. It's really rewarding having this finished product that we're really proud of. Like not saying that it's perfect in any way, but we're still really proud of it. Yeah.
Nathan Smith: And look, and we, to get ourselves going. We've self-funded our projects. Yeah. So, you know, there were a lot of mates rates and calling in favours. And the thing was, we had to present an idea and a concept that people wanted to work on and we're excited by. Which is why it's such that we spent a long time developing and talking through and it changed so many times. And so the challenge was making it happen. There are moments of when you... I was fortunate enough to be in New York when it screened dance on camera at the Lincoln Centre and had this moment of going, oh, my gosh. The Met opera is on, the American Ballet Theatre are in the other hall. And I'm going to Cinema Centre to watch our film that was filmed made with my mate in my parents house. Yeah. Watch it play at the Lincoln Centre. Like that, and I think working through all these challenges, working through not having a D.O.P three days before we were supposed to film. Yeah. Auditioning like twenty five kids to find three child actors.
Thomas Pollard: And that was the first audition that we'd ever, for actors that we ever held. I was so nervous. Like I was sweating out nervous. I was like.
Melissa Ramos: Why were you nervous?
Thomas Pollard: I was really nervous by the fact that I was daunted by the fact that I had to kind of find these characters now, like I've written, that I knew what I was looking for. And we knew what we were looking for, I remember it being really daunting. But then once we were in the groove of it and we were kind of in there with these characters and selling them the kind of the story of the vision that we had in our heads, I guess it was challenging, but it was also so rewarding to be able to do it.
Nathan Smith: It was it. Yeah. It was our first really big. Attempt at a short film, and it was a huge challenge, but it really because we invested so much into it of time of our own money and whatever, it's really set the foundation for what we think Running Man is and what it can be continue to become. So, yeah, it's a really pretty milestone for that. You know, we're really lucky. It was really well received and people did question was it dance enough? Was it film enough? You know, where did it sit? And we kind of love that that it challenged because people just couldn't decide or couldn't work out what it was. Yeah. Well were great we're making something that people don't know what it is, then we're making, we're taking a different approach or making new things. And that's exciting. That's what you want to be doing.
Melissa Ramos: Yeah. As Nathan was saying, it paved the way of what 'Running Man' is. It's that blurring the boundaries between cinema dance and pushing it further than that is normally see. So from here you just finished making another film, which is like 20 minutes? 'Botchan Retreat' Yeah. Twenty three minutes. Yeah. Was that made right after 'KNOCK'?
Thomas Pollard: Probably at some point say that this is just like a little side thing for us as well. So we're both nice working full time as well. So this is just a passion project for us and it's a way for us to...You said it before, not only pushed the boundaries of what we're what we're seeing in terms of film and dance, but also push ourselves too. So we can, you know, make better things within what we do for work, too. So we.. it's always it's a struggle to find the time to do it. Definitely. But in terms of the next film, it was definitely not immediate. A couple of years after that, the next film, 'Botchan' came up.
Nathan Smith: Because this is our passion project. It's when it really, it's when the passion is there that you get these get made. Yeah. So there'll be other ideas that might come and go and, you know, little bits and pieces, but it's the one where you can't stop thinking about it or, you know, or, Tom keeps annoying me about it that we sort of go, alright yep, we are at this point this one has to be made. You know, we know we've got to that point that we've thought about it for years or months that it's ready. And so. Yeah, like it's getting to the next one was really great. And we took all our experience from 'Knock'. And you know. And what we've been doing in our other creative worlds between to get 'Botchan Retreat' running and to make it happen.
Nathan Smith: I think that the trigger point for 'Botchan' was that we applied for a grant and then that got awarded. And we kind of went, "ah crap, now we're gonna make it". (laughs) So we were forced in the actual production side of that.
Melissa Ramos: Congratulations!
Nathan Smith: It was very fortunate way.
Thomas Pollard: So yeah, very fortunate to have that happen.
Nathan Smith: Yeah. And we've. Yeah. And we'll keep applying for things and finding ways that we can keep making work and keep challenging. Our approach to dance cinema. But yeah. Like I guess.There's a few ideas that are sort of floating around at the moment and waiting. The right timing for one. It might be sort of similar to 'KNOCK' just knowing that, you know, Ted was the right person. There might be someone who comes in. Or they might be a location we find or.There'll be something that happens and we'll just go. All right. It's the right timing now.
Thomas Pollard: Let's do it. Yeah.
"Cinema lets us be so specific with every dance move that they all have a role in it. And it's like saying it is a language you wouldn't put words in there just for the sake of having words or because they sounds nice. The words have, in this in a film have to move the story forward or give you development or something like that. And the dance has to do the same thing for our films..."