The Movie Waffler Waffling With DANCE BABY DANCE Writer/Director/Star Stephen Kogon | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With DANCE BABY DANCE Writer/Director/Star Stephen Kogon

dance baby dance
Four years in the making, Dance Baby Dance offered multi-talented performer Stephen Kogon the chance to write, direct, produce, act and… tap!

dance baby dance poster

Are you a musical/dance fan from way back? Any old faves inspire Dance Baby Dance?

I’ve always been a fan of musicals. My first favourite movie was The Wizard of Oz. And my most recent favourite was Chicago. And I’m a big fan of Singin' in the Rain. But I can’t really say any of them inspired this film. If anything, I was originally more inspired by films like Rocky and Rudy, about underdogs who have to achieve their dreams against great odds.

The idea to make the story about a tap dancer actually kind of came out of left field. I would often walk at the beach, listening to music, to clear my head. And at the time I came up with the story, I happened to be listening to a lot of old school soul (Sam & Dave, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Jackson 5, mid-70s Michael Jackson). And for some reason, I just started seeing myself tap dancing to those songs (even though I’d never tap danced before in my life). And it made me smile. And I couldn’t stop smiling - and that’s when the idea for the character and story came about.

How long had you been working on it for?

Essentially since the beginning of 2014. I wrote the script, then did a crowdfunding in October of that year, then spent most of 2015 raising the rest of the money. In March 2016, we finally started filming. Then we did three pickup days in May and another three in August and then Post for about a year. So all in all, almost four years.

How does the initial draft of the film differ from the shooting script?

For the most part, it’s the same. Since we had the two sets of three-day pickups after our initial shoot, I did some new writing based on locations that were now different. But I also added material because I was so happy with the scenes we’d already shot between two of the characters (Hector the studio owner and his assistant, played by Carlos Alazraqui and Clare Grant) that I wanted to give them even more scenes.

Did you always intend to play the lead?

Yes. While it wasn’t autobiographical at all, I very much related to the underdog aspect of the character and knew exactly how I wanted him portrayed, so I planned from the outset to play Jimmy.

Independent films are no walk in the park. Was it a difficult shoot?

Ha! That’s a loaded question! The short is answer is “yes.” The long answer is “yesssssssss.” I’m finishing up a book about the making of the film, and I detail in it all the things that I think worked, and all the mistakes I made along the way (plus I include our shooting script with notes I made about each scene). Whenever you do something for the very first time (this was my first film), there’s a much steeper learning curve. I’m a pretty quick study, but almost everything I experienced was new. That means you have to rely on others more. Some will be very helpful to the project, and others will not be - to the point where it can be damaging.

But, all in all, it was a great experience and I’m very proud of the film.

Is there a genre you haven't tackled that you'd like to tackle in the future?

I love nearly all genres, and have scripts either written already or ideas for most. The next one I want to act in and direct is a quirky comedy called “Burton’s Invention” about an inventor and his eccentric family and the quest for that one great invention.

Looking back on the year, how successful was 2017 for you?

2017 for me was all about Post Production and finding a distributor. Due to the intricacies of tap dancing, Post took a little longer than most films. And then we found a distributor, Indie Rights Films. So finishing a film and finding a distributor made the year a successful one for me.

What was the highlight?

After such a long journey, to finally put the film in the can – and to get acquired were definitely the highlights!

Dance Baby Dance opens in Los Angeles January 19th, with further release details to follow.