This short film explores identity and self-expression through the mediums of dance and fashion. We follow the journey of August, a gender-fluid person in their early twenties experiencing the mundanity of an urban, fast-paced environment. The film begins with August listening to a track of electronic dance music and immersing themselves in the audio. They are transported throughout the film to four dimensions in their mind's eye, reflecting separate versions of themself. The distinct layers of the music are performed by the different iterations of August, each exploring a corresponding movement vocabulary. The amalgamation of the separate versions of themself, and the way they dance, represents a synergy - an extended metaphor for how identity is fluid and multi-faceted.
As they journey through a grey, densely populated cityscape, August finds themself transported to four dimensions. This escapism allows them to indulge in self expression and enter trance-like states of movement. The four dimensions are influenced by minimalism, in terms of visual aesthetics, framing and cuts. August’s narrative and choreographic details. are the focus. This includes distinct movement vocabularies, corresponding to certain layers of the music for each dimension. The dimensions are loosely based on the elements (Earth, Fire, Water and Air) as a visual aid for decisions on location and styling. The mood-boards and concept art below show the creative vision for each of the scenes, including inspiration for the location, movement and choreography, styling, makeup, and lighting.
Although there has been an increasing societal awareness of the non-conformation to the gender binary, awareness does not equate acceptance. This film aims to portray the beauty of individualism through a character who feels unrestricted by gendered norms and who uses music and movement as an outlet for their artistic expression. In echoing the words of Alok Vaid-Menon 'there are as many ways to be a man as there are men in the world, and as many ways to be a woman as there are women in the world’, Synergy explores the concept of one’s gender identity through dance.
Our film is also a response to the recent announcement that the Dance degree at Arts University Bournemouth will close. This is one of eleven other recent closures of BA Dance courses across the UK, all as a result of cuts to arts funding, particularly in performance based work. Synergy’s aim is to show the beauty of movement, and why urgent change to policy at Government level is necessary to secure the future of dance.
We are making this film on as tight a budget as we can but we need your help to make the styling and cinematography the best it can be. We plan to work with a professional lighting technician/photographer to design and shoot one of the four 'dimensions' which will take a significant portion of our budget. We would als love our wonderful costume designer to have creative freedom for August's styling.
Emilie Bouet Conran - Co-Director, Writer, Choreographer & Dancer
'My dance background is predominantly based in classical ballet, having trained at London Vocational Ballet School and Elmhurst Ballet Upper School. I am now in my second year studying Dance at Arts University Bournemouth and take particular interest in exploring the relationship between dance and film. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity AUB offers for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and am hugely inspired by the artists I am able to work with on various student films. Synergy is the most ambitious project I have been a part of and I am so excited to see it evolve.
The film brings together my love for contemporary dance and EDM. I see great movement potential in the layering of sound, and feel very fortunate to be working with composer Alex Deverell to create an original soundtrack. Synergy’s narrative holds great importance to me as I see August as a reflection of myself. Both Honor and I feel a responsibility, as queer artists, to create work that is politically charged for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community.'
Honor West - Co-Director & Writer
'I recently graduated with a degree in Commercial Photography from AUB, and during the past year my practice has transitioned from still photography to moving image. My work explores human identity, often utilising surreal imagery as a means of providing escapism from reality. The concept of Synergy is incredibly rich in visual imagery which I have really enjoyed curating - in particular the various dimensions August enters throughout the film. I believe every person can relate to the concept of their identity being multi-faceted, and there being immense power in music as a means to reconnect with one’s self.'
Emilie and Honor have collaborated on two dance films in 2023, the first a student project commercial for underwear brand Parade, and the second a fashion film entitled Burning, both directed by Honor and starring Emilie. Synergy is the first project they have co-directed.
Milly May Phillips - Producer & First Assistant Director
'I'm a recent graduate in Producing from the Film Production course at AUB. I've collaborated with Honor and Emilie on several projects while at university, and I'm excited for the biggest and most challenging one so far. One of my main tasks will be sourcing locations that do justice to the incredible script, and that compliment August's character - the locations themselves are characters in a way. Like Emilie and Honor I'm fascinated by the relationship between dance and film, and as a dancer myself, working on dance content combines my two favourite creative areas. I'm looking forward to facilitating the shoot for our wonderful crew and ensuring they have everything they need to make Synergy the best it can be!'
Arnav Sharma - Director of Photography
'I'm currently in my second year studying Cinematography on AUB's Film Production course. In crafting the cinematography for Synergy, I aim to create a visual narrative that mirrors the film's exploration of identity and self-expression. I want each frame to serve as a canvas, capturing the multidimensional dance of August's journey through urban mundanity. My role is to seamlessly intertwine all realms in the story and enhance the emotional depth and fluidity of identity. Through innovative techniques and a keen eye for visual storytelling, I aspire to elevate Synergy into a captivating cinematic experience that resonates with audiences on a profound level.'
Brandon Bolland - Costume Designer
'I'm a third year Fashion Branding and Communication student at AUB, and will be creating the costumes for Synergy! As a stylist I’ve worked on films, fashion editorials, theatre productions and runway projects. I love collaborations of any kind with a passion for art, history, fashion and anything creative. With published work, award winning projects and currently developing my own menswear magazine, I look forward to expanding my portfolio. Having worked with many of Synergy's crew in the past, particularly on Burning, I’m very excited to work on this film and look forward to progressing as Synergy becomes a reality. Styling for Synergy will navigate a genderless character as they explore different aspects of themself, with a mix of textures, silhouettes, styling to their environment and exploring the movement of August.'
Alex Walker - Makeup Artist
'My name’s Alex and I’m the lead make-up artist for Synergy. I’m a third year Media Makeup student at Arts University Bournemouth, which is where I met Emilie who brought me on this project! Having worked on multiple dance and fashion shoots together, I was really drawn to working with Emilie again as we’ve figured out the things we like best and what to avoid on a professional shoot between creatives. I really loved the concept and the idea of filming in an array of locations across Dorset as well. Shooting in non-conventional sites, particularly in nature landscapes is something I’m excited about as I transition into working more on film as an MUA. This will also be one of my last projects in collaboration with dance during my time at university, so it’ll be a nice wrap-up project before I graduate.'
Shrijit Pillai - Editor
'I’m a second year BA Film Production student specialising in Editing, and will be Synergy's editor!. My goal has always been to work on projects that help me challenge myself and my creativity. I have a keen passion for music and dance which is one of the reasons why I was attracted to Synergy. I aim to help my crew in the best way possible to make this project become a beautiful experience for our audience, and give them a visual treat!'
Alex Deverell - Composer
'I recently graduated from the BA Music and Sound Production course at Bournemouth University. I’ve always had a passion for producing ambient and soundscape music so I knew quickly after speaking to the directors that it would be a perfect collaboration. I aim to use my synthesis and sound design skills to create a musical piece that will portray the film's expression and identity. I'm excited to really push myself and work with the directors who are always extremely helpful and ambitious. My goal is to present August through a musical medium and set up a soundtrack that allows dance and self expression.'
From the whole Synergy crew, thank you for supporting our project! Any donations mean a lot to us, no matter how small. It means we are one step closer to making our vision a reality. You can keep up to date with our creative processes on Instagram @synergyshortfilm.