I am on my way north on the M6. Passing Urban Splash’s Fort Dunlop gives me a smile and a deep sense of satisfaction. I had the privilege to use this iconic building as a location for the Boys Dancing and spent a fantastically intense three days filming as a part of an inspiring project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
I am on the ground floor looking up the central light well at FORT DUNLOP. I have 84 young men, over all six floors. Each lad is standing looking over a balcony, helium filled football in hand. It is the end of a long first day. We have just 5 minutes and once chance to get the shot before lads leave. My script says simply ‘Uplifting ending’.
Strength, courage, agility and speed: ‘Standing by’ I shout, ‘3 2 1 ACTION’.
The balloons float gracefully upwards bouncing off each other and I get a wink and thumbs up from my film maker.
I think it was this point that we decided to call our film FORT.
The creative process for making a film with such a large number of young men, many who have never danced before brings its challenges and inspirations. It is a process that too aims to engage and push the experience of what dance is and what it can do for the boys in the project. With the theme of the Quiet Man as a link for a suite of six films, our Quiet Man takes a stand against isolation, being different and the crowd.
For FORT I wanted to find a location that embodied aspiration, had a creative and professional feel that could convey a character’s status, help him stand out from the crowd. I also was looking for a place that could give me a great roof-top shot for my narrative. I was also conscious that the Boys Dancing project is about young men living in the West Midlands and a film to be screened on the London 2012 BBC LiveSites Screens. I wanted something recognisably from their area that the lads could look up to.
A tall order when dreaming up scripts and locations to find on zero budget! One I pondered on my journey up the M6… hmm. The former Dunlop Factory looks good and is that a balcony?
The Urban Splash team couldn’t have been more accommodating and helpful. From our first visit we realised that anything else we looked at would never match to the architecture look and feel of Fort Dunlop. Even the way the building was lit would allow us to keep an agile approach to our shooting and tie together a narrative around its architecture. We were even able to pick up on the orange colour scheme for the costumes and props. I couldn’t have wished for more!
A big thank-you to the Urban Splash Team and all who work at Fort Dunlop.
About the West Midlands Boys Dancing Project.
Boys Dancing is a Dancing For The Games programme, part of the West Midlands’ Culture Programme for London 2012 funded by Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands Dancing For The Games uses the inspiration of the London 2012 Games to get as many people as possible dancing in the West Midlands.Birmingham, Fort Dunlop, Urban Splash 1 Comment