There’s a classical quality to the imagery of filmmaker Sirius’ dance/narrative hybrid short Morning Interlude, about a young couple reconciling their differences with one another after a long, restless night. It’s a look achieved through the combination of a gripping story of a couple on the edge told through wide, black and white anamorphic photography that captures the incredibly cinematic landscape of an isolated country road adjacent to an empty train track. That amalgam of elements is what caught our eye when we first watched Sirius’ short, but there’s also an unexpected comedic sensibility that grows into the film as it plays out, taking the short into truly unique territory. DN joined up with Sirius for a discussion on the making of Morning Interlude, talking through everything from the influence of Leos Carax and Denis Lavant to the challenge of subtly blending dance with performance.

I wanted to start with dance, as an art form. What was it about dance that made you want to use it as the vehicle for this story?

I’ve always had images of dance in my head. Growing up during the golden age of MTV and music videos, I found the highly choreographed R&B pieces incredibly powerful. But as a cinephile, the real shock came when I discovered the cinema of Leos Carax. The way he used dance to express a character’s feelings is unique. That moment when Denis Lavant goes through a full spectrum of emotions while dancing and running is, in my opinion, one of the most iconic dance scenes in the history of cinema and a definite inspiration.

With that in mind, how did the short, as a project, come to light?

Last summer, I was exhausted from working back-to-back on commercials. I felt an urgent need to create something personal, something from the guts, carrying a different energy. To me, dance embodies two essential elements: movement and emotion. It’s pure, and that’s the core of filmmaking for me, the motion and the specific emotion you want the audience to feel. I knew I wanted to tell a story using those two simple elements for each scene. When I started writing, I was confronted with a question, how do you portray a couple’s argument without dialogue and through dance?

I felt an urgent need to create something personal, something from the guts, carrying a different energy.

Over the course of a week, I wrote the script about a couple driving back from a wedding on a deserted road. The man has some blood and signs of a fight, and you can instantly tell that his girlfriend is very angry with him. She abandons him in the middle of nowhere. The film was about how they argue and find their way back to each other. The script was composed of six parts, with the choreography already outlined, reflecting the emotions the characters were going through in each scene.

After having the script written which of your collaborators did you approach first?

I shared the project with Mès Lesne, a choreographer I had met a few months earlier on a commercial job. Despite the frustrations typical of commercial work, we connected creatively. Mès immediately agreed to join, and we thought about casting together. We wanted people who were obviously dancers but could also act. When we confirmed the cast, a real couple of dancers, Robinson and Helena, I went to the south of France to find a location.

The train track location is so cinematic. How did you discover it?

With the invaluable help of Shot in Mars, we explored a few scenic roads surrounded by beautiful rocks. It had in mind a road in the middle of nowhere with no sign of human construction, no escape for our characters. We stumbled upon a road along the train tracks, which wasn’t what I had initially imagined, but I instantly loved it. It brought something else to the story. It could be the US in the 70s or Eastern Europe. I loved the ambiguity of the location.

The location also defined the format. The train tracks and the framing opportunities made 2.35 anamorphic an obvious choice. The graphical elements of the place, the pillars, the tunnel, the texture of the road, were much stronger in high contrast black and white, creating a timeless look. So with Cinematographer Hugo Carlier we aimed for 35mm anamorphic black and white.

Did you face any difficulties or obstructions shooting there or across the production in general?

Seven days before shooting, and the day before our first rehearsal, Helena, the main talent, suffered a severe injury during a dance show and couldn’t perform. We had to find someone else. The next day, I decided to maintain the rehearsal with just Robinson and Mès. This turned out to be a real turning point. We then cast Lilou just three days before shooting. She did an amazing job. The advantage of this last-minute change was that, while she could move well, she wasn’t a professional dancer like Robinson. Her imperfections, combined with the rage she brought to her character, created something iconic. She only discovered the choreography the day before the shoot and learned it quickly! I loved the energy she brought to the film.

The graphical elements of the place, the pillars, the tunnel, the texture of the road, were much stronger in high contrast black and white.

We shot in the south of France and stayed at a friend’s house together. Robinson arrived late from another project, and we only had a full rehearsal together at midnight, just a few hours before the shoot. We made final adjustments on the terrace, using my phone’s flash to light them as they danced together for the first time in the pitch black. The shooting day didn’t start well either. The truck loader we were using for the first scene was late. It got lost in the countryside and couldn’t find the entry of the site. I wanted to shoot the first scene in the dark, as the story was supposed to go from night to day to sunset. The loader finally arrived but the sun was already rising. It was an incredible deep orange and purple sunrise, and for a moment, I thought that my storyline was fucked and wondered why I was shooting in black and white, missing the beautiful palette that sunrise was offering me.

Given that you were telling your story through dance, how much was predetermined and how much came through working with your actors/dancers?

Robinson tried on different outfits we had selected, and one of them really clicked. He put one of the suits on and the character I had in mind appeared under my eyes. During the day, we worked scene by scene, trying things out. As Robinson moved through the space, embodying his character, we shaped the role collaboratively. I told Robinson how the character should feel at each moment, Mès directed how he should move, and Robinson tuned all our inputs to create a character the audience could relate to. We were very excited by the process and had a lot of fun.

That day was crucial as it defined the subtle balance between acting and movement, how dance and unusual movements gradually entered the storyline and took up more space until the finale. I didn’t want to create a purely performance-driven film, I wanted the audience to see a couple arguing in a unique way, not just two people dancing.

I was wondering if you could talk about your choice to shoot on film and in black and white.

In the end, I’m very happy with the black and white choice, and the storyline still worked because, no matter if it’s day or night, it’s all about your actors and the story. With Hugo, we aimed for a raw and timeless look, inspired by the black and white work of Helmut Newton. We used the sun as our main light source, optimizing its angle throughout the day. This gave us the freedom for the camera to move around and the actors to perform.

I didn’t want to create a purely performance-driven film, I wanted the audience to see a couple arguing in a unique way.

And they delivered amazingly. We shot chronologically through the day, with only two to three takes maximum, adjusting the intensity of the performance. During one of Lilou’s rage scenes, she lost her shoes and broke her dress, but she kept going, and those unexpected things add a spice to the scene. Shooting on film brought a certain discipline too. We would rehearse a few times before recording, and just before it became perfect, I would shoot it to capture the momentum. We shot the final scene right at sunset.

How was it bringing it all together during post-production?

The main challenge in post-production was finding the right soundtrack. On set, we played different styles of music to set the mood for Lilou and Robinson, ranging from James Brown tracks to obscure techno. With Editor Andreas Arvidsson, we experimented with various styles, looking for something coherent through the whole film to tie the story together.

As for the score, I wanted something timeless, like a Western soundtrack with a twist. We shared some references with Hawn, and he worked his magic, resulting in that neo-Morricone vibe. For editing, we initially followed the shot list but had many additional ideas. The use of freeze frames added a layer of comedy, and micro flashbacks helped connect more with the characters and clarify the stakes. Once we found the structure, it was just about making it sharper and sharper, I wanted the audience to be dragged along by the story but still take the time to enjoy every scene. In the end, this film is a testament to the power of collaboration and spontaneity, where every challenge turned into an opportunity to create something truly unique and emotionally resonant.

What other projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m currently working on another dance film series, the next one will come out in October.

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