Function: Producer and Director
Some years ago, during secondary school, the entire Department of Music, Dance and Drama got together to perform the musical Cabaret. I was chosen to lead the group working with PR. The teachers tasked us with creating a trailer for Cabaret, focusing on conveying the underlying message of right-wing extremism and the self-inflicted denial we face when confronted with things we don’t like.
We were challenged at many levels; how do we transpose theatre into video while keeping the theatricality? We had no costumes, props or scenography yet, how do we avoid making major inaccuracies if compared to the final product? How do we introduce the characters and their function in the play without giving away major spoilers? How do we balance two sets of actors for the same trailer (this was a requirement from our teachers)?
We decided that we would use the conceptual poster as a starting point. This poster, with minor modifications ended up as the final poster.
Andreas Sulebakk Johansen, who edited this trailer, and myself sat down and broke the script into the most important turning points for the characters, defining their most dominant traits at that time.
The end result was a simple propaganda-promo for the night club, which is the main focus of the musical’s storyline, interrupted by marching, Hitler’s speeches and a personification of the 30’s realizing all to late what was about to transpire. The MCs immediately try to intervene, drawing the attention back to the dancers, the characters and the fun. When they repeatedly fail to damage-control, the night-club owner pulls the plug.
The neutral black box coupled with visible or obvious use of light-throwers and shaky camera movements gave the desired theatrical effect. This also solved the problem of missing props and scenography. The only partially costumed actors, however, meant that the actors had to film in their private clothes, adding an amateurish effect to the trailer. We should have worked harder to contain this issue. Also, the doubled set of actors would most certainly confuse most viewers and steal attention from the message we where trying to sell.
I feel that the message is hidden under a few layers of clutter, but that it is still evident and every decision we made was measured up the concept.
This movie is otherwise dramaturgically strong; it follows an Aristotelian curve, and uses meta-fictional devices, such as the film leader to keep the audience aware of the format.
The video was hosted on YouTube and the now inactive http://www.storproduksjon.net
The video below shows details from the recording of the trailer and some rehearsals.
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