It's 1984 and Venice Beach, CA, is at the epicenter of a pop culture explosion. Young people of color seeking refuge from the turmoil of inner city life flock to the eclectic ocean community to create a brand new phenomenon: roller dancing. The talent and vibrant personality of this multicultural roller 'family' draws massive crowds and influences Hollywood. But just as roller dancing flourishes, politics, money and gentrification conspire to take their dreams away.
Interview with Director Kate Hickey
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Originally I made the film because I was obsessed with roller skate dancing from the cult classic Xanadu, starring fellow Aussie Olivia Newton John. Then when I got to know my subjects I realized there was much more to the story. They were robbed of their scene and not given the credit they deserved, so I wanted to get to the bottom of that mystery.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch because you love the 80s and 90s and long for a time when people danced & celebrated their diversity outdoors. There is also a kick ass soundtrack and beautiful images of Venice beach, a very special place that provided a utopia and escape of sorts for our characters. You will also get to meet Mad, the complex central character, whose story stole my heart.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Personal themes work in the film in that each character has their own dreams and disillusionment when it comes to their love of skating and their scene. They go through a lot over the 30 years that span the movement. PLUS universal themes are dealt with in terms of the aging process and never letting go of your passion and first love, gentrification in the Venice area and the lack of community that has happened as a result. Themes of lost love, dreams, racial turmoil. This film deals with the ups and downs of life through the art of roller dancing.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The script evolved a lot! I had two female producers who helped a lot on the story front to weave the historical background of racial events in Los Angeles along with the personal stories. It was a complex tapestry. Also as you know some documentaries take a long time so the script definitely evolved with my characters' lives, even shaping some of their personal decisions.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
People genuinely care for our central female character Sally Piano and her well being. People laugh at these larger than life characters and are surprised to learn about Venice Beach and its black culture that they never knew.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Not so much. I haven’t had anyone disagree with how our characters view the world around them. Thank god. I guess I’m surprised at how many people remember seeing them and enjoying their moves back in their heyday in the 80s!
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope people remember to keep the dream alive whatever that may be. And that people continue to listen to diverse viewpoints like those in Roller Dreams. That they follow us on Facebook (@rollerdreams) and spread the word so more people come out and skate at Venice Beach. And most importantly that the skater's scene continues to grow and evolve as an art form.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We just want to share this story with as many people as possible. We will have a limited cinema release in some cities in June and will also be available on VOD very soon, so please do support us by seeing the film. If anyone else is interested in showing the film please contact us.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like it to educate, entertain and encourage people to accept difference within communities. I would like it to tap into people’s sense of nostalgia and fun.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Is diversity fundamental to any great music or dance phenomenon? Why?
Would you like to add anything else?
I would like to thank all my creative team made up of a lot of super cool females. The two producers Diana Ward and Cecilia Ritchie, editor Rachel Johns, composer Kathryn Bostic, music supervisor Tiffany Anders and token male - the fantastic cinematographer Toby Oliver ACS who also shot Get Out. Rome wasn’t built in a day and especially not without an army!
Interview: May 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, scifi, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Film Title: Roller Dreams
the dream didn’t fade it was taken
Director: Kate Hickey
Producer: Diana Ward & Cecilia Ritchie
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Funders: Screen Australia
Made in association with:
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver on May 10 and 13, in cinemas in Los Angeles, Seattle and Quebec City for a limited run and on iTunes VOD from about mid-June. We also have another festival in June that we can't announce yet.