USA | 12 minutes | 2020
Experimental dance short film by Claire Halloran, Alex Lu
Starring Matthew Quigley, Mio Ishikawa
Dino has been locked away for a long, long time. One day, he receives a Visitor who longs to connect with him. Under constant surveillance, they perform a spellbinding dance.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to make this film that has a very evident theme of isolation?
Claire Halloran: To be honest, when we started working on the film, the isolation wasn’t on our radar. Themes of loneliness, anxiety, yearning, loss— these were. Sometimes, it feels as if us young people inherited too many problems we didn’t create. When you want real change, it’s easy to feel powerless. We knew we wanted to explore the push and pull of all these emotions, but the question was how.
Alex Lu: At first we were just looking for somewhere that would allow us to paint on the walls and pour water and chicken bones on the floor. The dancing Dino didn’t really become the Prisoner biding his time until we showed up at the warehouse and started thinking about purposes for the preexisting features that the location had to offer. We knew we needed to sell the space as it was so we built our story from the inside out and made sure that the dancers interacted with their environment in believable but unexpected ways. We asked ourselves questions like, ‘Who’s watching him through this window? Is he the first or the last of his kind? And what the hell did he paint that mural with?’ It’s true that isolation is easier than ever to talk about these days since we can all relate to Dino now. But maybe it’s time we realized he’ll never be alone anymore. He has us.
CAF: How long did it take to choreograph the dance? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Matthew Quigley: Dino has been a fluid, transforming piece in creation and experimentation over a few years now. It started as a solo piece back in 2016, when the US presidential election was going on. There were a lot of ethical and political conversations going on and the piece was a playful reaction to all that. The work felt potent and important so after I began experimenting with the possibility of transforming it into a duet with some peers. I brought Mio into the Dino world and we went deep into movemental research. The biggest challenge was making the duet as character driven as possible but keeping the physical displays of overexertion, exaggeration and playfulness alive and nearly human, so that the animalistic and human blur was still at the forefront. During filming, one of the biggest challenges was making the takes and scenes true and embodied, as the new environment changed the texture of the floor and air, and changed the overall feel of the piece.
Mio Ishikawa: I still remember how shocked I was seeing Dino for the first time. It was nothing like what I have seen before: humorous, lightness, seriousness and vulnerability. Matthew was alone in the inflatable Dino suit in the first two series of Dino. I was seeing the outside cute figure of Dino as well as the humanity behind the suit. For this creation, Matthew and I talked about how Dino represents humans. There is a script that adds more connections between Dino and humans in this short film. We took advantage of sounds to complete this piece using the power of words. Because we wanted the audience to see not only Dino but also themselves through it. So for me, the challenging part was to create a Dino who the audience can empathize with. We did not want it to be just a story of Dino but the story of ourselves. And I hope people can relate and see themselves in Dino somehow.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from Dino?
Jun Sekiya: I hope people will leave the film with a feeling of catharsis. Sort of like they’ve danced vicariously through the Dinos. Especially this year, we’ve all been cooped up alone at home, and I think we’ve all built up a lot of pressure inside, without the usual channels to release it. I definitely felt a bit like a caged T-Rex this year, wandering around my room in circles and going stir-crazy. So for all of us suffering from pandemic cabin-fever, I’m hoping this film will be a kind of a dino-led emotional work out, to relieve the pressures of being a human being in 2020.
CAF: Are you working on any new projects?
– Jun Sekiya is currently developing a feature about a little boy obsessed with samurai movies. He is currently in the research stage reading about bushido and how it influenced Japanese militarism in World War 2. (If you have any recommendations for reading or watching, please hit him up!)
– Matthew Quigley is now living in Montreal, working with the LaTresse collective and creating his own work soon with unknown presentation dates.
– Mio Ishikawa is currently in Tokyo working on a new film project.
is working on pre-production for various personal projects in between freelance gigs.
– Claire Halloran is working on pre-production for various personal projects in between freelance gigs.
– Alex Lu is developing some new animated and illustrated projects.
Dino is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Directors, Cinematographers: Claire Halloran, Alex Lu
Producer: Jun Sekiya
Choreographer: Matthew Quigley
Composer: Nils Petersson