As a part of his long-standing collaborative relationship with the fashion brand Opening Ceremony, Spike Jonze has created a thirty-minute dance narrative for New York Fashion Week. Then, in true star fashion, he not only decided he would adapt it to film but shoot the first segment of Changers: A Dance Story live on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
The dreamy film stars Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska, who trained classically as a ballerina before going into acting, and Get Out’s Lakeith Stanfield, who is not so classically trained. When Jonze was looking for his leading actor opposite Wasikowska, he saw the viral video of Stanfield’s reaction to his show Atlanta’s Golden Globes win, where he celebrated in a hula-hoop-esque dance. From there, Jonze, a dancer himself, collaborated with choreographer Ryan Heffington, best known for his choreography of Sia’s music videos, to create this stunning performance. Changers: A Dance Story is a dialogue-free narrative exploring the evolution of a couple’s relationship.
Without Fallon’s introduction, it would be near impossible for a viewer to realize it was shot live in one take. It has all of the stylistic charms and quirks one comes to associate with a Spike Jonze film. Wasikowska and Stanfield start by lying in bed, angles completely naturally, and it’s only when the camera pulls back that you realize the bed is standing completely vertical to facilitate movement. What really gives this short the Spike Jonze touch, though, is its lighting. Thanks to a hanging lantern doing its own dance around the lens, the film enjoys a dreamy atmosphere, filled with glowing moments and beautiful lens flares.
If Jonze has been able to accomplish all of this under the pressure of a live, one-shot shoot, then one can only imagine how incredible the entire thirty-minute piece will be.