Week One Videodance Contest Winners!

by Dawn Paap, Mollie Shapiro, and Anna Brady Nuse

First of all, we want to thank everyone who graciously submitted their work for the first week of our videodance contest. We appreciated getting to see the variety approaches you took to capturing dance and movement on screen.

If you missed out this time, don’t dismay! This contest is happening every week, and there are plenty of chances to submit your work, or nominate the work of others. Please scroll to the bottom of this post to read about next week’s contest.

Amateur or Professional?

The theme we chose to kick things off first with was “Amateur or Professional.” For most of us, these words are loaded with connotations, many negative. Most often they are used to pass judgment on one’s job, performance, attitude or work. On the other hand, concepts about these terms are changing rapidly in the age of Web 2.0, as open access to social media is ushering in the rise of amateurism (and the fall of many old media industries) in what some sociologists and trend-spotters are calling the “Pro/Am” revolution. For our purposes, we hoped this theme would provoke an interesting discussion in the dance/film community about what these terms mean, and what the merits are of both approaches.

After viewing this week’s video submissions, it became apparent that the distinctions between amateur and professional are blurry at best. A professional can create an amateur film by incorporating the lightheartedness and innocence that an amateur film often possesses. Conversely, a professional video may include simple everyday movements that are universally used by individuals as they conduct their daily routines.

Therefore, this week’s winners are… (drum roll please)

‘Snew’: Videodance representing the Amateur Category, Co-directed by Jody Oberfelder and David Lachman


‘Drive’: Videodance representing the Professional Category, Choreographed and directed by Jane Osborne.


Although this video was made by professionals, it embraces the essence of amateurism, which is something made purely for the enjoyment of it rather than for professional advancement. The tone of the film is extremely playful as it explores the joys and nuances of life that the media overlooks. The film’s directors used Snew to delve into the connections that are made through language that is not yet tangible. Director Jody Oberfelder wrote that the film, “focuses on the life that happens in between bits of information in a media saturated world.”

Snew also gives an intimate and highly entertaining look into the creative process. Long before a work reaches the stage or screen, it is formed slowly and inconspicuously through long sessions of play, experimentation and [what looks like] pure silliness in the studio. Snew embraces this process, and that unselfconscious state where all the best stuff happens.


Jane Osborne’s ‘Drive’ takes us on an exploration of daily routine from both micro and macroscopic viewpoints, which illustrates the subconscious force that propels us through our days.  It is clear that a lot of planning was involved in making this film, from shooting to editing, resulting in a high quality production.  Elements of professionalism include the variety of locations used to shoot the film, sophisticated choreographed movements, multiple camera angles, and detailed choreography done with the camera.  We found this videodance to be both creative and stylistic, and an excellent example of Professional work.

Not only is the work professional, it is also a commentary on professionalism itself. On the one hand, being a “professional” is a badge of honor in our society, and an expectation for being a good citizen. However as we see in ‘Drive’ the daily reality of being a professional can be dull and mind-numbing. The characters’ lack of purpose and self direction to make choices is characteristic of the stereotypical “wage slave” in which a person’s livelihood and identity is completely dependent upon earning wages. In his 1791 book On the Limits of State Action, the classical liberal thinker Wilhelm von Humboldt said, “whatever does not spring from a man’s free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness.” No one wants to admit they live in this place, however a majority of people persist in unfulfilling jobs, feeling powerless to leave a regular paycheck in pursuit of “frivolous” dreams.

The Artist’s Path

Fifty years ago in France, there were a few film buffs with desk jobs in a magazine who picked up 16mm cameras and shot personal films with tiny budgets, completely outside of the mainstream industry. These characteristics would make them fall in the hobbyist or amateur category in the eyes of many people. Yet, these filmmakers revolutionized the medium with the French New Wave and achieved the highest stature in movie history along with their more “professional” peers and idols. I wonder who could dare call Godard and Truffaut “amateurs”?

Cameras don’t make films; film-makers make films. Film-makers improve their abilities not by adding more equipment and personnel but by using what they have to their fullest capacity. The most important part of a film-maker’s equipment is oneself: one’s mobile body, one’s imaginative mind, and one’s freedom to use both.

Part 2 of ‘Drive’ is available on YouTube, and you can learn more about director Jane Osborne on her website: http://janeosborne.com/drive/

Learn more about ‘Snew’ and co-director Jody Oberfelder on her website: http://www.jodyoberfelder.com

We would love to hear your comments on the contest winner’s work.

Submit videos for next week’s videodance theme:

Theme Two:  Improvised or Choreographed

Submissions due by Tuesday June 9th. Weekly Contest winners will be announced on Move the Frame June 12th.

Choreography vs. Improvisation, what is the main difference?  When improvising, decisions are being made every split second, while during a choreographic process a choreographer may have days, weeks or months to work on a sequence of movements.  For this week’s theme we are looking for any type of improvision or choreography, from the movement of the dancers to the camera work and editing. Perhaps the dance is choreographed and the camera movement was improvised, or the movement was improvised and the camera work and editing was highly choreographed. Any variation will do, but be sure to tell us which category the work falls under and why.

We look forward to your submissions.

Submission Requirements

* Submissions may be made by anyone – artists, film makers, and anyone who knows of online videos that fit the weekly themes.
* The video submitted must be under 10 minutes long.
* Pick/Submit one video to represent only one of the weekly themes.
* Send the link of the video to Movement Media
* The video submitted needs to be embeddable, ie hosted on YouTube or another sharable online video platform.
* Include a short biography/artist statement (if it is your work).
* For every submission, include a short summary that describes why you have chosen a particular video for the contest and describe how it relates to the weekly theme.
* Include a brief synopsis of the video.
* Include a link to your website (if you have one)
* Include your email address
Email all information to movementmedia@pentacle.org
If your submission is chosen for the weekly contest, we will contact you directly

Impetus for Contest Participants

* Have your videos seen by an online audience who’s interested in movement-based video.
* Receive publicity for your work/work of others
* Receive comments and feedback
* Automatic consideration for live screening at Kinetic Cinema in NYC.
* Automatic consideration for Movement Media’s Online Dance Film Festival in September 2009 (information and submission guidelines to be announced in late June).

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4 Responses to Week One Videodance Contest Winners!

  1. Jody says:

    I’d like to start the ball rolling. Congratulations to my co-winner Jane Osborne.

  2. marta renzi says:

    Thanks for inventing this weekly contest – and congratulations to the winners! I’m curious about how many of us there are out there: did you get many entries? Are the three writers also the selection committee?

    I appreciate the way you give context to both pieces, launching a discussion about what Pro/Am might mean. Has everybody seen Spike Jonze’s pseudo-doc SAVED (title?) which David Hinton recently screened for participants at a Dance for Camera workshop held in Toronto? Made by a pro to look like it wasn’t.

    I look forward to seeing work that’s new to me – while, eventually, submitting my own!

    • pentacleblog says:

      Hi Marta,
      Anna here… Thanks so much for your comment. We got six submissions for the first week. Not very many, but enough to look at. We plan to put most of the submissions on our YouTube page in the playlist called videodance submissions. Hopefully more people will start submitting as the word gets out. Also, you can nominate videos too. Since most video on the web is shareable, you don’t have to be the content owner to submit, we like to be pointed to great dance videos as well.

      The three authors of that first post are my interns and myself. We all look at the submissions and come to a consensus together about the winners. The themes really drive our choices because we like work that really illustrates or illuminates something about the theme.

      I’ve never seen SAVED by Spike Jonze, but I would love to! He’s been a great influence on me. Another pseudo Amateur vid he did was the Fat Boy Slim music video “Praise You” with the fictional Torrence Community Dance Group… Too funny…

  3. Pingback: Program Notes from Boris Willis’ curated Kinetic Cinema « Move the Frame

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