BLUE BURROW, 14min., USA
Directed by Leah O'Donnell
Blue Burrow is a short movement based film fully immersed in the sun, sand, and water of Lake Huron. The shore is the meeting place for characters of different species, while the world underwater comes to represent the subconscious. Perspectives shift from fish to human to sun, and metaphors about our relationship to the natural world emerge.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Growing up in Michigan, the Great Lakes were a prominent element of my childhood memories. They are the largest fresh water source in the world, with waves and views that could easily be mistaken for the ocean. Several years ago, I became interested in site-specific dance and began dreaming up images of a live performance on Lake Huron, where I have swam many times with my family. The idea to make it a film came once COVID hit. Live performances were being rapidly shut down and I realized that not only would a film be safer for the performers, but we would be able to share the work with more people. Because the camera became the audience's eye, we were able to more deeply immerse ourselves into the water, showing more intimate perspectives of the landscape and the choreography.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Almost 2 years. I was also in graduate school during this process so both filming and post-production had to happen between semesters!
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
sun-soaked and surreal
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Collaborating with the elements was a unique, sometimes humorous, and sometimes stressful challenge. We had just three days on location to film. On the first day, it poured rain and a storm nearly swept away half of the props. There was a lot of running and swimming to save objects from the wind. We had to quickly dry wet objects and be ready to film in the water again as soon as the weather was in our favor. Luckily, everyone was in good spirits throughout and we were able to roll with Mother Nature's twists and turns.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I had a big smile on my face while watching. I am thankful for the generous and thoughtful insights shared.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
As a choreographer and director, I had been curious about film for some time, but when the 2020 pandemic shut down nearly all prospective shows, especially in dance, I found film to be a refuge for art making. While I continue to love working in live performance as well, my interest in the medium of film continues to expand.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
As a kid, I watched Alice in Wonderland over and over. More recently, I've been taken with films by Andrei Tarkovsky. Favorites include Mirror and Stalker.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
This has been a great experience already. I am looking forward to Blue Burrow being featured on the streaming service soon, and am grateful for the connections offered with professionals in the field, whether that be as audience members or reviewers. In this exact moment, I am also enjoying the opportunity to reflect on the process of making the work.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It's been a great experience. The platform makes it easy to keep track of submissions and materials, and has allowed me to connect with like-minded arts organizations.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Slow roasted, ripe August tomato sauce on pasta...or my grandma's potato latke recipe...or maybe a spicy mushroom ramen...this is a tough decision, especially as it is nearing dinner time right now :)
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Last Winter, I choreographed and directed an evening-length Dance Theater show called Once there was not. Soon I'll begin editing the footage that I filmed afterward, inspired by that live performance. I also plan to apply for residencies that will allow me to make site-specific work in nature. That is where I feel most free and creative. But perhaps the biggest upcoming project is a new baby due in about 5 weeks! I am excited to see how motherhood will inspire creative changes in daily and artistic life.