Filmed in the abandoned town of Bombay Beach by the Salton Sea, FAM breathes life into a place, long dead, that holds a forgotten history. Exploring the concept of “making something out of nothing”, FAM celebrates a community’s ability to adapt and move on, to forgive but never forget, to remember always the past even as an ever-changing future arrives anew.
FAM is a collaboration between filmmaker Nathan Kim and Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, featuring choreography and movement direction by LACDC artistic director Genevieve Carson. It is the second film to be featured as part of our SV Showcase this month. This is one of the three films to be awarded the StandardVision Showcase Award for Artistic Achievement at the Los Angeles Dance Film Festival.
How would you describe your dance film, FAM, to someone who has yet to see it?
GC: A wild and bold collaboration of film and dance set in a heartbreakingly beautiful derelict town that skates the line of freedom and chaos.
How do you begin your projects as a director? How much of the storytelling aspect is left up to you, and how do you go about putting the idea for a film together?
NK: For me, every project is unique and comes together like the unravelling of a riddle. What are we trying to say or share? What resources do we have? What would be exciting and interesting to explore? What’s going to be possible within our constraints? I try to follow my instincts as these questions are answered, and the projects kinda come to life on their own.
Did the choreography of this piece come about before the concept of the film itself? How was your experience translating the choreography to film?
GC: The concept of the film was born first, and the choreography was inspired by the concept. At the time, I knew the film would be integrated into an evening length piece I was creating entitled “FAM”. I had been reflecting a lot about the process of making and performing dance– the fleeting nature of it all, and what it requires of its artists. Ultimately, the concepts that arose from this guided the movement ideas: trust, community, the tumbling sensation of the artistic process, what it requires to be present and willing to adapt, building something out of nothing, and moving on. For the film, I created a series of phrases and vignettes that could be modular and easily molded to adjust to any space. Since the environment we were in was somewhat rogue, I had to create choreography that could adapt to the needs of a shot easily.
The filming location for FAM has an interesting story. What was the attraction to Bombay Beach for this project?
NK: I had been out to Bombay Beach a few times and fell in love with the dried out, carcass-littered landscape. The fish bones along the shore, the salt encrusted structures, the abandoned homes– they all paint stories of life that has come and gone. This is what I wanted to explore, life on top of life on top of life, all crumbling and falling apart and decaying on top of each other.
What was your biggest obstacle during the creation of FAM?
NK: We had one day to film everything, with about 5-15 minutes allotted to shoot each of dozens of vignettes before the sun went down. We had to be smart and fast, but got through everything 🙂
What types of projects get you most excited to be working on?
NK: I love projects where I can try out new ideas, test new techniques, and employ creative problem solving. Working with collaborators who are a symbiotic heart match makes the creative experience so fun and beautiful.
GC: I am invigorated by projects that inspire collaboration, push boundaries, and have the possibility of failing. There should always be a smidgen of uncertainty and fear involved – that is when wild discoveries are made. Like Nathan said, when you find a collaborator who brings genuine heart, inspiration, and humanity into a project, the process is always magical.