I will never forget the first time I saw Bill T. Jones’s masterpiece, D-Man in the Waters. I was sixteen years old, a typical teenager who enjoyed dancing on the weekends and during summer vacations. I wasn’t sure then if I would end up being a dancer. But when I sat in the theater that night (Page Auditorium, Durham, North Carolina, left balcony, aisle seat) I saw a community of people dancing with passionate precision and no-holds-barred energy, as if their very lives depended on that 38 minutes of stage time. The dance changed my life.
I have been a professional dancer now for twenty years (six of which were with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.) I am now a professor of dance at Loyola Marymount University. I am embarking on this film about the dance I fell in love with twenty-four years ago.
You will help me to make this film. And in doing so you will exemplify the very idea of collectivity that D-Man, both the film and the dance,celebrate. The beauty of this film, similar to the beauty of the dance, is that it is not about dancing as much as it is about people, community, connection, and the lengths we will go to help one another in times of need. At the heart of the dance, and the driving force of the film, is Demian Acquavella, a beloved member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company whose diagnosis with full-blown AIDS paralleled the making of D-Man in the Waters in the late 80s. I never knew Demian. He passed away before I joined the company. But I have always felt his presence, both when I performed the dance myself, and every time I have watched it since. His valiant struggle for survival is infused in D-Man, and therefore has become emblematic of every person’s battle with life and death, and the community of people who rise up in support.
What We Need & What You Get
We –the executive producer and acclaimed choreographer, Sean Curran, and myself – are asking for $30,000 to fund this next phase of the film. $30,000 will enable us to shoot interviews on location in New York City with members of Demian Acquavella’s family, his friends, and the original cast of the dance. $30,000 will also enable us to begin the pre-production work required to shoot the dance from multiple angles, using state-of-the-art technology to take you inside the world of D-Man in the Waters.
The money will go toward:
- The Artists and Crew - even the simplest film shoots require a team of gaffers, technicians, and PAs; and the award-winning documentary cinematographer, Tom Hurwitz, ASC is on board to make this film
- The Equipment – cameras, lighting and sound equipment all need to be rented for each day we shoot
- The Technology – filming dance is unlike filming anything else. It is a dynamic and ever-changing field unto itself with brand new technologies to give the audience an immersive experience of movement and sound.
- The Archives – photographs, home movies, dance videos, letters, programs all have to be digitized and royalties paid when needed
- Insurance – Every film shoot requires liability insurance for the safety of everyone involved
- Food – It is the right thing to do to feed the crew who is laboring on a 12-hour film shoot
In exchange for your investment you could get a 5x7 poster-ette of our first-edition movie poster, a commemorative t-shirt or tote bag, or tickets to the premier of the film in your area. Take a look at our list of perks!
If we don’t make our goal you will still get your perk, but you will have to wait many, many more years to see this film!
If we surpass our goal, that’s fantastic! Remember this campaign is only to fund the next production phase, not the entire film. In truth we need much more than $30,000 to finish the film. Every dollar beyond our goal will go towards the $100,000 budget to finish it.
“There will always be someone right now who needs someone to see them, rather than a statistic”.
– Bill T. Jones from his interview for D-Man: the biography of a dance
D-Man: the biography of a dance will take you on an intimate journey into one man’s struggle to survive a global epidemic, and one choreographer’s dance in response to that epidemic. The film will put a face on the grand notion of what it means to survive; it will bring action to the grand notion of what it means to love one another.
This film will be well made. The Director of Photography, Tom Hurwitz has over 25 years of experience in documentary filmmaking. He has won two Emmy Awards, and the Sundance and Jerusalem Film Festival Awards for Best Cinematography. Four films that he has worked on have received Academy Awards and two received nominations, one of which was for the dance documentary, Dancemaker. He was Director of Photography on the recently released documentary, The Queen of Versailles.
Three professors on the film faculty of the highly regarded film program at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles have been acting as consultants during pre-production.
The dance, D-Man in the Waters premiered to near unanimous critical acclaim in 1989 and it is still bringing theater audiences to their feet. It is Bill T. Jones’ longest running and, arguably, most successful work ever. The first section of the dance has been licensed to over 15 university dance departments and counting. This film will not only have a place in the popular market, but in the academic market as well.
It is my hope that we will learn from D-Man: the biography of a dance. We will learn about an oft-forgotten plague and how some chose to combat it with the beauty of movement.
It is my hope that we will be inspired by D-Man: the biography of a dance. We will be inspired to love what we do, and love the people we do it with.
Other Ways You Can Help