rag & bone’s “Why Can’t We Get Along” Film explores society’s natural rhythm and humankind’s synchronicity through choreographed dance and visual experimentation
BY OBI ANYANWU
“Can we all get along?” This question posed by Rodney King during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, which began following the acquittals of the four officers that beat him, remains a relevant question over 25 years later given the political turbulence and turmoil that we are experiencing today in the US. “Why Can’t We Get Along,” the latest rag & bone Films feature alters the quote slightly but asks the same question at a time where society appears to be less in sync.
Actress Kate Mara and Baby Driver actor Ansel Elgort star in the short film that combines choreography, music and cinematography for a unique visual experience that is as exhilarating as virtual reality. Mara and Elgort move to music by Thom Yorke that was produced exclusively for the film, in unison with eight members of the American Ballet Theater, three HipLet Ballerinas, three members of the Bulletrun Parkour group and YouTube dancer Kandi Reign.
Co-directors Benjamin Millepied, Aaron Duffy and Bob Partington shot the film in one day using five rigs, each of which was used for a particular effect. The Dolly Zoom rig merged Mara with the dancers lined up behind her to make the actress appear to have multiple arms, the Wheel Rig spun with Elgort as he rolled in a wheel, and the Falling Over Rig kept the actor centered as the room slowly fell to its side. Later in the film, the Satellite Rig captured dancers in fluid motion as the room continually flipped upside down.
The concept started from the way people spend too much time on their phones and don’t really see one another, said Wainwright at the film premiere at The Metrograph. “It morphed from there. We wanted to do something that was cool and creative and fun and visually very impactful. That’s all we really cared about.”
Rhythm and synchronicity are the central themes of this film. As the world appears to fall over, its inhabitants never lose balance. We may march to our own beat, but that beat happens to be in sync with society’s natural rhythm. The overuse of cell phones and technology is just one of many ways that our synchronicity is disrupted, and another is the labels that we put on others and ourselves. “Why Can’t We Get Along” shows just how much we are in sync even when we believe that we’re very different than the people around us.
Co-Directors | Benjamin Millepied, Aaron Duffy, & Bob Partington
Director of Photography | Darius Khondji
Choreography | Benjamin Millepied
Music | Thom Yorke
Lead Cast | Kate Mara & Ansel Elgort
Supporting Cast | Shane “Sage” Samuels, Donielle “D Bigga Swindles” Cheatham, Kareem “Reaper” Small, Alexandre Hammoudi, April Giangeruso, Betsy McBride, Breanne Granlund, Elina Miettinen, Patrick Frenette, Nia Parker, Camryn Taylor, & Kandi Reign
Executive Producer | Marcus Wainwright
Executive Creative Producer | Marissa Kraxberger
Producers | Candice Hernstad, Garrett Fennelly, & Taryn Nagle
Editor | Will Towne – Modern
Post Color | Tim Masick – Co3
Music Director | Kris Bones
1st Assistant Director | Brennan Brooks
2nd Assistant Director | Antonio Dunston
Concept | Aaron Duffy
Creative Partner | SpecialGuest (Aaron Duffy, Cedric Gairard, Tazri Afrin, Eddy Choi, Lauren Moroz, and Danielle Duclos)
Rig Master | Tony Hill
Production Company | 1stAveMachine
Location | Greenpoint Terminal, Brooklyn NY
Special Thanks | Peter Hess at CAA, Katie Krell Slater at WME, Thomas Marquardt at ICM, Christopher D. Macdougall, American Ballet Theater, Thom Yorke, Kris Bones, Cheryl Taylor AT CMDC School, Tony Hill, Nadia Lesy at Bullettrun, Eryka Clayton, & Emma Polgar at Hand & AssOciates