Miss Hill: Worth Waiting For…
Who doesn’t need good news in 2015? Especially when it’s about a film that has everything going for it: https://apollosgirl.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/apollos-girl-43/. Its run begins on Friday, January 23 at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13 Street, NYC (212) 255-2243. Bonus: the filmmaker will be there at 7pm on Friday and Saturday, and at 4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Even bigger bonus: the film has been extended another week (through February 5); don’t miss it!
Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter was a labor of love for Greg Vander Veer, whose own life and career have, like Miss Hill’s, taken some unexpected turns. With a passion for documentaries, this Vermont native’s fate was sealed by four years at Hendrix College in Little Rock, Arkansas. “This school was in the Princeton Review as a best buy – being the best college for the least amount of money. It was wonderful; very small, and they didn’t have a film department. So I studied history and joined their interdisciplinary program, where I went to Australia to study film. I didn’t have to learn a language (that kind of narrowed it down) and discovered the country’s amazing documentary industry. I liked the people, did well and wanted to live there. But as an American I wasn’t going to get any funding. So I came back and moved to New York.”
“For a few years I was a pedicab driver until I was ready to start making films. I wrote to Al Maysles because I loved his movies. His generosity of spirit—he’s so giving! And I was lucky enough to become an intern and eventually to work for him.” But working with dance was accidental. Vander Veer’s first film (Keep Dancing, with Donald Saddler and Marge Champion) was launched at a party where someone told him about the legendary pair. Of course, one thing led to another as he became immersed in the dance world. And Miss Hill first came to life when Vander Veer met a board member of the Martha Hill Dance Fund at a bar. (This, people, is how things often happen.)
“I didn’t know Martha Hill; I wasn’t that familiar with modern dance. But it was important for me to make a film that told a bigger story. I wanted to explore people’s emotions and options so that a general audience could understand them. Hill’s decision to give up dancing herself to enable other dancers must have been very hard–and the audience can feel it. And what happened with Balanchine is so typical of human nature; the competition, and he had all this stuff on his side.”
As with every film, the hardest part of making Miss Hill was raising the money for it. Vander Veer credits the Martha Hill Dance Fund, with its enormous list of executive producers. All were volunteers, inspired by the sense of community Hill built in her lifetime. “A community that really changed the dance world,” he adds.
A third meeting (on CraigsList, when he was still working on Keep Dancing) is what gave Vander Veer the team he needed to turn ideas into movies. Editor Elisa Del Prato answered his ad and convinced him to work with her. “She’s really got a gift for rhythmic cutting…we sit in tandem, working together. She doesn’t like to do things in the normal way—arguing, fighting, disagreeing. We’re just there the whole time, editing the film. We complement each other. The music of the editing and the structure of the story are really independent of one another, but in perfect balance. Elisa doesn’t care about story that much—she didn’t research Martha Hill; I did. I’m there for the story. It’s a good balance, although it kept shifting throughout the process. As director, I had the final decision, but she was persuasive!”
With two films finished, the team is wrapping up a third, far from the subject of dance: shot on location in Ethiopia by Peter Buntaine, it entwines ecology with ancient history, mystery, and the natural world. It’s got science, and the impact of everyone in the forests—atheists, priests, flora, fauna—the conflicts of those who struggle to protect and those who destroy https://churchforest.wordpress.com/ It will include music recorded in the field and an original score. We suspect it will push the envelope a bit. And Vander Veer admits there is also a new project on the horizon, which he will announce in a few weeks. Stay tuned…