'Dance with the One' Premieres at Texas State


Dance with the OneA small-time Texas marijuana dealer gets in over his head when the million dollars' worth of hashish his boss has given him suddenly goes missing in the family drama Dance with the One.

The October 12 Texas State University - San Marcos screening of Dance with the One was held in room 206 of the school's Department of Theatre and Dance. The Texas Independent Film Network, an Austin-based statewide coalition of film societies, universities and independent theaters, sponsored the event. The network tours a different Texas independent movie each month around the state.

"If you're at UT this sort of thing [independent film] is around you all over the place, but it's places like Waco, College Station and San Marcos [where] you're going to have to drive somewhere to go see it," said Tom Copeland, a lecturer in the Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance.

Mike Dolan, Dance with the One director, was in attendance at the Texas State premiere. Dolan, a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers program at The University of Texas at Austin, was chosen to direct the film through his previous work with the University of Texas Film Institute, a nonprofit educational film institute at UT.

Dance with the One is the first film produced by UTFI. The film premiered at SXSW 2010 -- read Debbie's review for more details about the movie itself.

Dolan said he thought the script for Dance with the One was "great." The plot revolves around the aftermath of two brothers and their father after the death of the family matriarch.

"They're sort of in desperation mode," Dolan said of the family in Dance with the One. "It really comes to a head and the boys are able to get out."

Jon Marc Smith, Texas State senior English lecturer and Dance with the One co-screenwriter, said the idea for the film came from a novel he wrote in 2002 as a Texas State MFA Program in Creative Writing graduate student, in a fiction workshop taught by Tom Grimes, Texas State English professor. Smith used a portion of his novel Every Lost Girl as his graduate thesis.

In 2007, Smith began a screenwriting partnership with Smith Henderson, Dance with the One co-writer. Henderson's wife met Smith as a student in the Texas State MFA Program in Creative Writing. Smith said she introduced him to Henderson.

Smith said that while the screenplay for Dance with the One is "radically" different from his novel, the "germ" of the script derives from his novel.

Henderson submitted the original Dance with the One screenplay draft to UT's Michener Center for Writers, Smith said. The draft secured Henderson a spot in a UTFI screenwriting class. The screenwriting class led to the Dance with the One screenplay being chosen to be produced by UTFI.

Smith said Dolan was selected to direct Dance with the One by a panel of the film's producers because he had the best pitch and vision for the film.

"His pitch was that he saw it as a family drama," Smith said. "Even though it's a crime movie to some extent, he saw it as this kind of beating heart of a family drama at the epicenter of it."

Dolan said the characters in Dance with the One are "really strong and interesting." The film's characters must make tough decision based on their financial circumstances.

Some viewers might negatively judge the Dance with the One characters because of their decisions, said Dolan. However, he added that the film's writers, cast and crew feel a "degree of generosity toward people who make tough decisions based on their circumstances" and have compassion for them.

"They don't have any way to survive," Dolan said. "There circumstances are heightened."

Dolan said the Dance with the One casting process was difficult, except for the film's lead actor, Austinite Gabriel Luna. He called Luna, who plays Nate Hitchins, a "phenomenal" actor. Dolan "found" Mike Davis, who plays Nate's brother Sitter, skateboarding in his East Austin neighborhood.

Smith said he was "extremely pleased" and "shocked" when he first watched the film.

"You write the movie and then you give it to these other people and they make it come alive," Smith said. "They're not filming your words; they have to film sort of their dream of your words."

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