Three questions to… Steve Woods, director of Keeping Time

Keeping Time_interview
Steve Woods is the director of Keeping Time, one of the ten live action short films selected for the Irish Film Festa 2015 competition.

Keeping Time is an original dance film project in which the story is told not by words but through movements and music: Kenyan dancer and coreographer Fernando Anuang’a plays a modern power station worker who meets Maasai warriors and dances with them combining traditional moves with modern dance.

Steve spoke about his work with Fernando Anuang’a and how it is like to make a dance film.


How did you come up with the idea for this story?

I have always been interested in history. History can be a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Like a book. But at the same time, history is part of the present. Indeed there are people living a life style today that appears ‘historic’ to contemporary Europeans. Like the Maasai in this film. Ireland is full of things that remind us of our past. History is alive in Ireland.


How did you work on the coreography along with Fernando Anuang’a? And what about the music?

Working with a choreographer is interesting. It’s like working with an actor who is also the scriptwriter. I know some dance filmmakers have found it a difficult experience. I’ve been lucky. Maybe because I’ve always researched the choreographers work first and checked out their shows. I know exactly what I want from the dancers because I’ve seen them do it on stage. I also rehearse the shots with the choreographers and explain why I’m putting the camera here or there. So there is a relation in place before we make the film.

As for the composer, Ray Harman. Ray worked for nothing once for me on a film called Eternal which turned out very well. I promised him if I got a budget for a dance film I’d come back and hire him again and this time pay him! I really admire his work. He ‘gets’ film. He sees where the tension should be. He can pace a film. I like his work so much that his music is there from start to finish.

Actually another reason why I choose the Maasai is because they don’t use musical instruments – not even drums. So we had a clear soundscape to work on.


Where was Keeping Time shot?

I shot Keeping Time in two locations in Ireland. In Loughcrew where there is an ancient monument, some 5.000 years old: older than the pyramids and probably the oldest roofed structure in the world. The second place was a very modern power station which burns peat from the local bog to make electricity. So I’m putting two opposites together, the ancient and the modern. Which is the theme of the dance and the film.