Wednesdays at the Drive-In: Qualia (Film Premiere)
As we premier the conceptual short film "Qualia," we asked filmmaker Spencer Byam-Taylor (director) and dance director Katrina Amato (creator and performer) a few questions about the film, their creative process, and the arts of performance and filmmaking.
What’s the concept behind “Qualia”?
Spencer: Katrina came to me and said she wanted to make a film about the idea of perfection as an empty destination. A dance that strikes away at the notion of beauty that is just so singular and narrow-minded.
Katrina: For me, Qualia is about stripping away this idea of perfection. Surrendering to the unknown, and trusting that everything is going to be ok.
In a couple sentences, can you describe your creative style?
S: Filmmaking is such a collaborative entity and the process differs so much from project to project. For this one we started with the idea that the camera and the editing style should move with the dancer in a way that felt like a dance itself.
K: When I perform, I try to surrender to the raw emotions that inspired the dance in the first place. The more vulnerable I can be, the more authentic my movement will be expressed. It's a form of therapy for me. A way to communicate my thoughts and feelings without having to speak.
What inspires you?
S: Really beautiful cinematography. Travel that shakes me awake. The people that I surround myself with.
K: Human nature, exploring different environments and cultures, editorial photography displaying fashion and movement, high performance athletes, and neuroscience.
The video shows a masterful interplay between visuals and sound: how do the mediums of film and music relate to one another?
S: You really can’t have one without the other.
Can you walk us through your creative process, when choreographing a piece?
K: Lately, it has been a piece of music that sparks the initial process. I will hear a sound or lyric that I connect to emotionally and almost instantly feel my body begin to move. Other times, I pull from my experiences in life, and allow things that have been bottled up, to be released through movement. When I am connected to what I want to express, and to the emotions behind it, I can then start to play with that which organically comes out of me.
Can a performance tell the truth?
K: This is determined by one's own sense of perception and connection to the performance, whether as an observer, the dancer, or the choreographer. The title of this piece, Qualia speaks directly to this. The individual conscious experience. Yes! The "truth" can most certainly be told through a performance. But it is personally recognized as defined by the one who is looking for it. This allows a performance to hold any number of "truths" as it uniquely inspires an individual experience.
What was the greatest difficulty you encountered while making the film?
S: Dune buggies waving Confederate flags and the endless ensuing tire tracks definitely posed some interesting challenges throughout.
K: Having to postpone our initial shoot because of weather. Asking my crew to reconvene 4 months later was a real test of my patience. I was worried that our drive to create this film would fade. However, it only heightened our curiosity and excitement when we finally reached the sand dunes.
What are you the most proud of, in regards to the film?
S: Right, the people I’ve met through this process and the experiences we’ve shared have been very rewarding.
K: The relationships and connections that were made while creating and publishing this film. Art brings people together, and that is a beautiful thing.