Danni Spooner FAG video image of three dancers

Playback artist interview – Danni Spooner

We talk to Leicester artist Danni Spooner whose work appears in our exhibition Playback - a nationally-touring exhibition showcasing award-winning short films from across the country.

Tell us a little about your film?
FAG is a reflection on society’s heteronormative and cis-gendered society. I use gender expression to decorate dancers so they all appear similar and almost androgynous.

It’s inspired by drag, the Free the Nipple movement, queers and trans-inclusive feminism.

Why did you choose to make it?
I’d been playing with gender expression and gender identity within my work for a year or so when I had the idea.

I got an opportunity to make a piece of screen work and thought instantly of these weird, androgynous, punk-ish creatures who were there to confuse people in terms of the viewer’s gaze.

What do you think of the Playback exhibition and seeing your work in it?
I think the exhibition is great! It’s travelling all over the place which is such a lovely thing as my work is now touring.

What is a ‘short film’ and what do you like about the format?
Short films are just.. shorter.. films. The Random Acts programme allows for just three minutes of film so it’s very short. I like it because it forces you – as a filmmaker – be really concise and direct with what you want to say in that time.

I think it’s also great for viewers as they can commit to less time to watch something and can view many short films in one go.

How did you get involved with Random Acts and Channel 4?

I applied to do the Random Acts programme through Rural Media. I’d heard of the programme when I was studying and was encouraged by one of my tutors to go ahead with it.

I filmed an application – you can submit with you talking about your ideas instead of writing about them – and got the commission! Once my work was made it went online and got aired on Channel 4 – which was lovely.

How much work is involved in putting a short film like yours together?

A lot! You have to storyboard and time manage everything. Costumes need to bought, make-up rehearsed. My dancers and I spent at least 20-odd hours in rehearsal and we had to find space to do that.

And then there’s emailing, sorting out tech and specs, meetings with mentors, commissioners and so much else!

Are there any other films in the exhibition you especially like?

There’s one about the alphabet and it get really silly really quickly. It’s called ‘Untamed Truths’ by Sophie Marsh.

You’re often at Phoenix. What do you like about the place?

Phoenix is a hub for artists. It’s a great space to network and chill out.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on an exciting application for Arts Council funding. I’m also teaching professional dance classes at Curve every so often and rehearsing with Fuelled Dance Theatre.

Playback is a nationally touring exhibition that brings together over 150 short films made by young artist filmmakers. The exhibition is funded by Arts Council England and is a joint initiative with Channel 4 and Random Acts.