Private Project

In The Gray Room

In the Gray Room uses the medium of dance to explore a young woman’s spiritual experience coping with a tragedy that would be humorous if it weren’t so painful—when her father, diagnosed with Dementia, mistook his living room for a toilet. What struggles can be embodied through a daughter channeling this event through both her heart and his?

  • Michael Sandoval
  • Paola Calliari
    Key Cast
  • Paola Calliari
  • Michael Sandoval
    Director of Photography
  • Maryna Kovalevska
    Assistant Director
  • Lorn
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    100 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Michael Sandoval

Michael Sandoval brings over two decades of experience as an filmmaker, educator, consultant, and film/arts administrator to his work. Films have appeared in Berlin Film Festival (competition screening), Palm Springs, Slamdance, Toronto Short Film Fest, Margaret Meade Doc Fest, and more. Won Audience Award (San Luis Obispo); Best Short (Las Palmas). Cinematographer for numerous film/TV productions, including reality TV (Learning Channel, MTV), cinematographer and writing/producing consultant for feature documentary, Tan Antiguo Como el Mundo. Awarded Ang Lee Fellowship. Published fiction/non-fiction. Residency Grants include Ucross Foundation, the Santa Fe Art Institute. MFA, Filmmaking, New York University - Tisch School of the Arts; MFA, Writing, University of Michigan; BA, Brown University.

Michael has created film collaborations with Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, and Guggenheim Museums. He has enjoyed directing international film programs across the world, including in Beijing, Abuja, and Qatar. Michael has consulted with and led workshops on screenwriting with diverse organizations, including the Asian American Writer’s Workshop, Brown University, and the Optimus Telecommunications company in Portugal.

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Director Statement

As a dance-on-film project, “In the Gray Room” seeks to examine the unfolding mental states that connect, or disconnect us, to and from reality—when the tactile joys of perception are met with a disruption of the bridge linking the actuality of the world with the individual’s sense of self. While this process may be initially received in conflict (as joy descends into disconnections from the who, what, when, where, and why), the dance stands to challenge how one automatically condemns this tragic destruction of memory and cognition. What new dimensions unfold for the individual losing the mind? What states of innocence and enlightenment are created as the individual re-connects to his/her new version of universe?
It is this profound and painful journey that I seek to explore through the multiple possibilities of the camera frame. Paola and I collaborated in the creation of a work-in-progress shoot (included in the work sample) where we had a chance to test out a variety of shots and editing techniques in the service of the choreography. The possibilities are promising, as the shooting and editing process revealed both the potentialities for a film-dance collaboration, as well as of the physical and technical explorations needed to fully realize the piece.

I am fascinated by how shots unfolding in time can help map out the dancer’s tribulations. Certainly, strategies taken from dramatic film can be effective – in the employment of the close-up for beat punctuations, for example, or in the use of depth and aggressive background-foreground motion to activate the audience. Likewise, I feel there is enormous potential in the manipulation of the stability and instability of the camera – how both fluid and erratic, even unconventional movement and lighting can help shed light on the dancer’s inner experience.