Sundance alumnus Roger Ingraham (Moonshine, As the Dust Settles) tackled the art of making a fantasy musical thriller. He collaborated with Close Up Experience choreographer Isis Masoud and rock duo The Goodnight Darlings, Kat Auster and Wilson Jaramillo, to create the creative musical film Empire Vampire. The film is more than just a typical music video. It follows the spirit of the 80s and early 90s music videos where the visual storytelling is an important added layer to the music-making process. It's bringing back the entertaining and artistic form that made Michael Jackson and Madonna legends.
Team Empire Vampire also includes art director Joey Bevan and his Glam Squad, dancers from Cirque de Soleil and the Orlando Ballet, magicians, circus performers and burlesque entertainers.
Roger, Isis, Kat and Wilson talk about their individual roles in making Empire Vampire.
Roger was the youngest person to have a feature film premiere at the Sundance Film Festival with his gritty realistic vampire film Moonshine.
Vampires have always fascinated me because they're a union, or merger, of immortality and these things that we're all stuck in, like our sexuality and our sensuality, our anger, frustration and fear.
The film received critical acclaim and was the motivator for Roger to continue his journey as a filmmaker. He used the experience as his "college training." Roger also talks about the similarities and differences between the raw Moonshine and the fantasy fairytale Empire Vampire and collaborating with the diverse group of dancers and musicians.
Isis helped create a place where dancers could train and understand the art of dancing in front of a camera after years of working with dancers on music videos and films. The Close Up Experience fills a void that traditional dance studios typically have not. With shows like Glee and films like Magic Mike and the Step Up franchise, there is definitely a need for dancers to learn how to communicate and move in front of camera (sometimes mutiple cameras).
Growing up as a dancer, you learn the craft of dancing, but you don't learn a language of communicating with a director or a filmmaker on set.
Empire Vampire embodies the heart and soul of The Goodnight Darlings. It celebrates the band's independent and funky spirit, while including an ode to their pop influences. Kat was especially excited to work with all the "moving parts" that makes the musical film so unique. Wilson describes the artistic value of the project and what it meant to him to be a part of the creative collaboration.
It's not just a product; it's about, okay, how do we travel the planet and meet as many people as possible and touch people's lives.
What's next for Roger, Isis, Kat and Wilson? No doubt they will continue to work together on future projects. Other endevors include feature films, tours and looks like someone will be collaborating with rapper Jay-Z.