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A dance scene.

I was browsing youtube and came across this scene, so it inspired me to adapt for one of my budding stories. It's the end of the interstellar war, and everyone is celebrating. For some reason, the current fashion is retro-style, so they're into the 1930's and 1940's big bands.

I wrote this draft, and I felt good doing it. Writing is truly my creative passion.

Adapted from Swing Dance (1943) with Ms Jean Veloz.

The soldiers, male and female are gathered at the dance hall to celebrate the end of the war. Many are in uniform, but some, obviously the partners of those in uniform, are in civvies. At the far end is the symphony. One male soldier, in green army uniform, is seated, playing “L’il Marlene”, on his harmonica.

Then the band suddenly strikes out Glen Miller’s “In the mood”. A male, in army uniform, comes out and starts dancing. Then a female, in civilian skirt, comes out and joins him. They do some swing dance moves, while everyone watches, then the female twirls the first male to the side. A second male, in space fleet uniform, joins her, and the twirl, even as the first male dances at the side.

The second male then twirls the first female to the side, and, while she and the first male dance and watch, a second female comes up to the second male, and both take centre stage.

Then everyone turns to their partners, and they start holding hands and dancing – some couples are male and female, while others are male and male or female and female.

Out of curiosity, how much would it cost to film a short like this?
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IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I thought the cost would be north of $10,000.00, but, if it's just an add-on scene for one or two minutes, can it be cheaper?

Regardless of the running time your cost is going to be (as sfoster already said)
costumes, location, cast and crew. You need to think in terms of what a shooting
day will cost - not what the final running time is. A 30 second scene will cost as
much as a 10 minute scene.

I, too would estimate between 20k and 50k. But 10k is possible. There are ballrooms
that may rent a space for very little and dancers who have period costumes who would
play for very little just to be involved in something fun.
OK, thanks, everyone.

I have been thinking of doing a low-cost film with several people talking about what happened during the interstellar war, and I was thinking that a dance scene at the end could be a nice finale. But, as of now, something outside of the people talking would not fit structurally into the story.


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
A dance scene in an interstellar war sci-fi is not a budget-busting scene. Quite the opposite regarding your genre with sets/effects.
Thanks for your input, everyone.

Indietalk, to make the film cheap, I won't be using special effects. Instead, the characters will be talking about what happened. I have the following scene, as an example.

General: And our first battle against you was the Battle of the Sand Planet.
Enemy General: Yes, and that went well, didn't it? You totally screwed that one up.
General (nodding): The AI in our Battle Bots could not deal with the sand storms, which clouded their sensors, so they became immoble.
Enemy General (in contempt): The fog of war - you all should known that, except you didn't. You were so focused on the good life and on your technology that you forgot what it meant to be warriors.

My original version was to have the General and his subordinate talk of what happened, but, after posting here, I thought of adapting one of my drafts, so that the Enemy General, now a prisoner, would talk to the General. They describe what happened, which would be tell not show, but it would be better than nothing.

Mara, I know what comic relief would be, but I'm not sure how a different scene would fit into a dialogue between people. I am thinking of something like

The dialogue cuts to the dancing scene, where people in uniform dance with those in civilian clothing, celebrating the end of the war.
General: Isn't dancing better than preparing for war?
Enemy General: Of course fun is better than killing. But you all missed the point. As a species, we have to prepare for the time when we encounter an alien species, because we don't know if that species will be hostile. And your society's emphasis on self-indulgence isn't going to prepare for a conflict against someone we know nothing about.

The Enemy General, whose side lost the war, would claim that his side, the new Prussians, won the moral victory, because, by fighting, they forced humanity to focus on proper living as opposed to decadence. This would be my rant against the younger generation in colleges, who want safe zones and not to be disturbed by disturbing thoughts. In my time, I was taught to think for myself and to deal with questions that would take me out of my comfort zone.

Alcove Audio, a zero gravity dance would be fun, but I'm trying to limit the budget. That said, if possible, I can cut in scenes of some quality special effects.

Thanks, once again, for your help. A time is coming, when I will start writing, and everyone in this forum has been wonderful in patiently guiding me.
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It just occurred to me - the dance has to be retro style, because humanity, as the Enemy General said, went back to the old ways of proper living. In WW2, while America didn't go back to the old ways, it changed by having a proper, Prussian-style military and so it became what it is today.

So the dance scene represents, in the end of the war, what humanity had become. Writing and feedback can change the tone of the story, which is, of course, the creative process.


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Why not write it as a novel and have your goal be to get someone famous from sci-fi to narrate the audio book, instead of a film that just shows people sitting around talking?


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Imagine... your interstellar war sci-fi novel, you lock in James Earl Jones to read it... (just an example and not impossible, he does this kind of work)... vs. a movie with unknown people talking about a war.


Staff Member
Mara, I know what comic relief would be,
I'm not talking about comic relief.

And while I know this isn't what you want to do, I'll explain what I mean for others who may read this.

My suggestion is something akin to the opening of The Godfather. In the middle of the wedding celebration for Michael Corleone, Bonasera asks the Godfather to avenge a sexual assault on his son. This is a great counterpoint of light and dark, celebration and vengeance, joy and anger.
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Alcove Audio, a zero gravity dance would be fun, but I'm trying to limit the budget. That said, if possible, I can cut in scenes of some quality special effects.

Oh, c'mon Mogul, I was jokingly commenting on IndieTalk's comment that a dance scene wouldn't be expensive compared to the other effects required by a Sci-Fi project.

An underappreciated WWII film is "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949). Most of the film takes place on the bomber base; there's only one combat scene in the entire 130+ minutes of the film. Perhaps this should go on your watch list; you may get some inspiration.

Another film that may inspire you is "The Enemy Below" (1957) where a US destroyer and German submarine square off in the Atlantic during WWII. It's a cobra-mongoose sort of contest between the two captains. There's more action in this film, but, again, it's mostly about what happens between the action scenes.

How about towards the end of "Patton" when the US and Soviets are celebrating the end of the European war? The confrontation between Patton and the Soviet general is amusing as well as informative. There's some "dancing" in the scene, which is why I thought of it. (The dancing is just previous to the following clip.)



IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
If you don't like my audio book idea, my first thought was mockumentary. A camera crew was embedded in the war. Post-war they are conducting interviews. This is a good way to explain the "people talking" part and a great way to shoot on a small budget. POV, GoPro, and shaky satellite footage all the norm.


Staff Member
I think you misunderstood that 'show don't tell" thread and took away the wrong message.
There are parts of a film where exposition is necessary and its okay to tell stuff but an entire movie of people just talking is super unconventional.

It's hell to direct, just a bunch of people sitting around talking. you can only do so much for so long.
have you thought about what the visual would be like? its super repetitive its like the camerawork of a day time talk show.

for movies the closest i can think of is Steve Jobs and they did a lot of walking through locations to try to disguise the fact that its a lot of talking.
you aren't going to have the luxury of available long winding cool looking locations if you have to build all the sets from scratch.

ITs idea is pretty good. I'll toss out another one.
A reporter is interviewing people and the general and stuff bc he is going to be honored at a huge ceremony and recieving an award.

But as events unfold we learn the reporters family was sacrified in battle as a strategic move and the reporter hates the general and wants to sabotage the ceremony. This way something real and dramatic is happening in the present and its not just all talk about the past. maybe not the best idea but it's the idea that im trying to add layers into the story.

honestly i think if you want to be a mogul you need to be less unconventional.
think more inside the box. you can have small amounts of creativity and twist but your foundation of the film should be recognizable at something that has been successful in the past. for business sake. what movies are successful with a bunch of people just sitting around talking? some exist... but few that mass audiences have any interest in that i can recall.
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These are great suggestions, everyone.

Indietalk, I have been thinking of a read-through. I have written a background history of the war, as told by the defeated Enemy General, and I provide the epilogue,

The peace treaty was signed, and the international protocol was reaffirmed.

Meanwhile, everywhere, school children stood up every morning to recite their oaths of allegiance, with their hands over their hearts; youthful adults learned to seek gainful employment and do volunteer work. Planets and other colonies everywhere devoted a portion of their budgets to the military, and many indeed re-instituted compulsory service.

The War therefore gave us our ultimate victory, which was to ensure Humanity all over would be a strong, disciplined force, in order that it would not only fulfill its potential but, when the day comes, to meet any alien threat that would come.

And, as everyone knows, an alien threat will one day come.

I would like that, but I understand name actors would cost a lot of money, far more than my limited budget.

Mara, OK, I see your point, with thanks, and I learned something about story-telling today. :)

Alcove Audio, I know of "The Eenmy Below", because I've not only seen it, I know of the Star Trek episode that was modelled after it. The ST episode, by the way, had a couple of interesting sub plots, which made for a better story. I've watched Patton many times, and I know of it, though I don't know if the American general, being from a well-brought up, wealthy family, would have insulted a guest.

But I don't know "12 O'clock High" was mostly talk, so I have to watch it. Yes, with my budget limits, talking in the base would be good.

Sfoster, a documentary would be a great idea. That said, the dialogue between the two generals would not be long, perhaps 5 minutes per scene. A good example would be "Same Time Next Year", a 1978 film with Alan Alda that was a social commentary.
I've watched Patton many times, and I know of it, though I don't know if the American general, being from a well-brought up, wealthy family, would have insulted a guest.

Despite his upbringing, Patton had a very foul mouth. The next time you see the film replace his dialog as if it's a Tarantino film. In this clip just replace "God damned" with "F**king" and you get the idea.

Check out this newsreel of Patton from post VE-Day WWII; he had a very high voice. Some have speculated he swore so much because his voice was so unimpressive.

He was also notoriously anti-Soviet, and the scene is supposedly based upon a real event, but nothing remotely as dramatic as the clip.

If you remember, half of Patton's problems were because his mouth ran ahead of his brains. His pride and stubbornness didn't help much either.

But I didn't know "12 O'clock High" was mostly talk, so I have to watch it. Yes, with my budget limits, talking in the base would be good.

There's also no score except to open and close the film; the only other music is singing in the officers club. One of my favorite films.

With more action, but based on a novel turned into a play, is "Command Decision" (1948).

It's okay, but not fantastic, at least for me. "12 O'clock High" is far superior, IMHO.
Alcove Audio, yes, Patton said you cannot run an army without profanity, and he was definitely anti-Soviet. But I don't think he would have been insulting to a fellow officer at at a formal dinner, because he loved the military way of life, and that meant respect for all officers, even enemy ones.

I'm watching 12 O'clock high, which I may finish at .... midnight. Anyway, I like the idea of them talking in various rooms. My concern, however, is that, to renovate a soundstage into various rooms could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I'm wondering if I could use something that is already available. Let's not get into the issue of bombers crash-landing, because that would be way beyond my budget.

How much would it cost to hire a bunch of actors to talk to each other for two hours?