Lavallee: You served as a producer on Jody Lee Lipes’ Ballet 422, did spending time in the world of ballet inform some of your visual decisions you’d make on your debut?
Holmer: I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a few ballet-on-film collaborations with Ellen Bar and New York City Ballet. What was special about working on BALLET 422 was having regular exposure to the choreographic process. I was fascinated with how choreography was transferred from body to body, and how dancers learn movement through mirroring. There is this great line when a corps dancer is struggling with part of the sequence, “It’s just not in my body yet.” I thought about that concept a lot when workshopping THE FITS. Visually speaking, I certainly developed a foundation of kinetic and non-verbal storytelling from my vérité background.
Lavallee: The Fits features two types of performances. How did you go about workshopping and directing both the physical and actual acting performances pertaining to your young lead actress?
Holmer: We always approached storytelling from the physical performance first – I wanted to place all of the narrative tension inside of Toni’s body. Every actor had different directorial needs, but for Royalty, she is a very physical performer. Sometimes I would have her run sprints before takes so that she was more aware of her body during the scene. With our movement consultant Celia Rowlson-Hall, we’d workshop how Toni carries herself down the hallway, how she holds her shoulders, when she exhales. When it came to emotional content, we were always translating that into physical actions, be it small movements in her lips or tensing all of her muscles. As a dancer, Royalty is so athletic and focused. That part of Toni was easy for her to tap into.