What did the brief ask for and how much freedom were you given to execute that?
Leo Burnett wanted a celebration of individuals that live big lives, which really is the perfect brief for me as I love working with passionate people who choose to live outside the square. The brief was fairly open about how that would look but we had a defined script. When working with real people I like to work with them personally very early on in conception and Li and I had lengthy discussions about what was important to him and his day-to-day life. Li lives and breathes ballet. He still dances, teaches and is a huge advocate in the ballet community.
Bringing a concept to life is often met with roadblocks and obstacles. What were some unique challenges you faced during the shoot? Tell us what kind of preparation went into the production.
Well, at the moment Covid restrictions make shooting tricky but we were able to sneak in a few days in Byron to shoot with Li who lives in Brisbane (awful I know). It was also quite a challenge to capture the magnitude of Li’s dancing talent. DOP Christopher Miles and I tried so many different angles to try and capture Li’s incredible technique. We really have enough footage for a 15 min homage to Li’s beautiful dancing.
Are there some things you wish had made it to the final cut?
Oh so many moves...I am heartbroken. We had so many wonderful dance sequences that could have been used but felt the end result was a good example of his talent.
Can you tell us about some of the most memorable moments from the shoot?
It was wonderful to work with Li. He was such a beautiful collaborator and was so curious and full of wonder still at 60. We laughed a lot and he was a lot of fun to be with. His lust for life is infectious. His epic life story and the life he has created with his wife Mary is very awe inspiring.
Any behind the scenes stories you’d like to share?
I think the crew enjoyed watched me trying to show Li different ballet sequences. It was obvious that I was no Mao’s Last Dancer. Lol.