Dancer is the multi award winning, 80s inspired neo noir martial arts short film set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Melbourne. It tells the story of Richard, a disconnected hit man who develops an infatuation with Dallas, a stripper at a local club who has aspirations of becoming a ballet dancer. As he uncovers the violent and corrupt world she is enslaved by, he takes it upon himself to rescue her from her downward spiraling life at any cost.
Dancer was shot over 7 days (3 consecutive weekends) in Melbourne Australia over the winter of 2016 and had a pre-production period of 5 months which included 3 months of fight training and choreography. We achieved our crowd funding goal in just under 30 days. The fight scenes took approximately 6 hours to shoot over one day and condensed 3 months of training to just a little over 6 minutes of footage. Post production took just under a year to complete.
Dancer has been nominated 9 times and has collected 24 awards Internationally including 2 Best Actor Awards, 11 Best Feature/ Short/ Narrative Awards, 2 Best Score Awards, 1 Best Supporting Actress, 1 Best Supporting Actor and 5 Best Director Awards.
Director and Writer: John Balazs
Executive Producers: Anthony Dalleore, Lyn Fava
Producer: Marlane Ghmed
Associate Producers: Shane Joseph Willis, Vanessa Cammaroto
Director of Photography: Aldi Godjali
Editor: John Balazs
Music Composer: Justin Cavanaugh
"Dancer is the first time, in a career spanning 10 years that I had complete creative control over a project. I knew I wanted to make an action film and I knew I wanted to make a film with martial arts as a show piece. I decided that this film was going to showcase my ability to direct action as a driving tool for dynamic and interesting story and characters.
Having set a goal of making an action film, I had to look at the kind of films I liked, what tones and themes stuck with me and what visual and aesthetic qualities do I enjoy and appreciate in films? Having been heavily influenced by the neo noir 80's "Synth Rave' sub-genre, I knew that I wanted Dancer to have an 80's tone through music, costumes and lighting. Films such as Drive, Taxi Driver and John Wick were guides as to how to approach the style, tone and mood of this genre. Dancer would be told in a world of hot pink neon lights, dark blue rooms and seedy, dim environments.
I wanted to convey the themes of disconnect and loneliness. This isn't the type of loneliness when one does not have a connection to another person, but rather a spiritual loneliness where one would be driving on the outskirts of a major town on a hot summer night, windows down and seeing the neon lights of a faraway city - the complete isolation and loneliness of the night.
It was agreed very early on during the 4 months of fight training, that each fight scene would have as little cuts as possible to showcase the brutality and authenticity of the fight. This meant however
that the actors and stunt performers were pushed to the limits to learn and embed the long and carefully choreographed movements into memory. Each action had to be second nature.
Personally, Dancer was a journey of self-realisation and finally burying away the self-doubt brought on by other productions that were beyond my means of creativity. Having the support of my producing partner only cemented the notion of driving forward and creating a career that focuses on this exciting genre.
A director is only as good as the team that they surround themselves with. I was fortunate to work with some amazing, enthusiastic and talented people on this production. I was humbled by the support and encouragement from friends and family during the crowdfunding campaign, which in turn acted as encouragement that my vision was something other wanted to see and be a part of.
Dancer is the first time I am truly proud and excited about my work. Hopefully I can share more with you in the future...I have many more stories that need to come to life
- John Balazs