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19th February 2015
Snap! Crackle! Pop!
Title of film: Black Taxi, Take off the Edge
Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada
Yessiree this is a cracker - Carlos Lopez Estrada does a one-take dance routine with his girlfriend

Oh where to begin? In fact where did the idea begin? And how did it evolve?

I think I had just watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit and got excited about doing something light and animated. Cameron Clark, who animated this, had also been working on some great character animations and we figured it would be a good idea to combine powers and make something ridiculous together.

On the surface it looks easy, but on the fifth viewing you realise how clever it is. How did you go about making it?

It was the most stressful thing and no one should ever make one-shot videos. They always sound like a great idea until you are on set, biting your nails, ripping your hair, drowning in overtime and realizing that there is a pretty serious chance that you just won’t pull it off. This one was a lot of fun but also dangerously close to not existing because of how long it took to set up. There really aren’t too many complicated things about it, but it took about 12 hours to set the shot up, and then we only had a chance to film four takes of the video. I went into the bathroom to pray before the fourth take, and we somehow managed to do it once without any hiccups. It also didn’t help to be in front of the camera and have no idea what I was doing.

What was behind the decision to make the head masks angular and the way they are?

They are loosely inspired by the Easter Island sculptures. I honestly have no idea why, though. I think we were looking into all kinds of mask designs and really liked how huge and uncomfortable these ones would look.

Did you cast for dancers or actors who can dance? Please tell us about the choreography process.

You may not know this, but I am neither an actor nor a dancer, and I somehow decided that it would be a good idea to cast myself in this. Then, to complicate things more, I asked my girlfriend to dance in it with me. Something about it made sense at the time. We also didn’t have a lot of money to hire a good choreographer (or dancers). We realized from the start that this wasn’t going to be a *good* choreography, and that it was most important to capture the amateur energy, than to create a good dance number. We watched videos like Fatboy Slim’s “Praise you” and Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” for inspiration. It was actually a lot more fun than I am making it sound. It was worth every second of pain.

Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada Performed and choreographed by Zora Ellis and Carlos Lopez Estrada Produced by Ian Blair Cinematography: Todd Banhazl Animation and Design: Cameron Clark aka The Shrimp Production Design: Tye Whipple Production Manager: Alissa Torvinen Editor/Post Supervisor: Taylor Brusky Sound design: Michael O'Connor VFX: Jason Kummerfeldt and Tanner Merrill Rotoscope: Iordanis Kioumourtzoglou Wardrobe: Jordy Scheinberg Creative Director: James Lees Movement Coach: Brooke Webber 1st AD: Paul Holman 1st AC: David Edsall Gaffer: Arjun Prakash 2nd AC: Matt Tompkins Art Director: Nelson De Castro Additional illustrations by Tyler Jensen. Masks designed and fabricated by Cristina Bercovitz Production Intern: Naheem Kujenya