Why I shot a mini doc about a pole dancer for ‘My Rode Reel 2017’ film competition

I’m not into videomaking contests too much, but I made an exception for ‘My Rode Reel 2017’ because of the prestige of competition, the high quality of the jury and, why not?, the prizes.

After I decided to take part in the contest I started to look for a story and I realized that it could be the chance to get out of my comfort zone and tell about something totally unknown to me and pole dance world is what I was looking for.

Another reason I chosen to film a short form documentary about pole dance is that a work like that would hardly been commissioned to me by an adv agency or a company here in Italy (abroad I would have some more chances), so It could really be the only chance to film something totally different from my other works.

SUBJECT

Valentina Venditti is a pole dance instructor living between Turin (Italy) and Nice (France), but she also used to live and work in Milan, where she started to practice pole dance. 
She has a solid classical dance background that influenced her approach to aerial disciplines.

LOCATION

Pole House Torino is the place where Valentina and her colleagues’ creativity takes shape. The loft has a NYC feel, hosts various kind of courses and it was a great location both for space and lighting.

THE WAY I’VE SHOT

This project has given me the opportunity to try different kind of shots and to experiment with framing. In particular I did more handheld shots than usual and a lot of shots from below.

ORGANIZING FOOTAGE

I edited ‘A Day With a Pole Dancer’ with Final Cut Pro X and the ‘Keyword collection’ feature has given a big help to organize footage.
I organized footage by the ‘moments’ I narrated in the mini doc: warm-up, music choice, combos filmed from different angles and the classic keywords I always use like “music”, “B-Roll close”, “Audio Interview” and so on.

EDITING

At first I edited the interview part and then I started editing the rest of the mini doc. The most challenging part has been cutting the combos in a right way, because i’m not a pole dance expert, so a wrong trick could be awesome at my eyes, but with the help of Valentina I was able to find out the correct moves.

GRADING

Since I started thinking about this project, I immediately realized that there was a black and white mood, so the decision to use Filmconvert to color grade the mini doc has been a natural consequence.
After balancing footage color with Colorista, I started grading with Filmconvert combining in particular two film emulations: IL D400 (based on Ilford Delta 400 color negative) and KD TMx 100 (based on Kodak Professional T-Max), the latter with a film color parameter at 50% instead of 100% and no grain.

FINAL THOUGHTS

About one year ago I watched a mini doc about the filmmaker Philip Bloom (probably my biggest influence in filmmaking) and he says that he likes to work on projects that could be a challenge for him and that’s the spirit I approached ‘A Day With a Pole Dancer’: measure myself with something totally unknown to learn something new both in technique and storytelling.

Here’s the link if you want to vote me at My Rode Reel 2017 competition https://www.rode.com/myrodereel/watch/entry/3266

And here’s the link on Vimeo if you prefer only to watch the mini doc