Director: Sera Milavetz
Sera Milavetz grew up in a small town just outside of Orlando Florida. Out of her 24 years of age, she has been dancing for 21 years total and decided dance was one of her chosen career choices at age 9. At that time, she was training at Raskin Dance Studios in Kissimmee Fl, before choosing to continue her training and upper education with the BFA Dance Performance and Choreography program at Florida Southern College. As a double major while studying there, she also pursued a BA in Communications with a Film Studies focus, leading her to pursue her dreams of creating dance films. She has had many wonderful opportunities over the years to direct and perform throughout the Central Florida area. During her years in the program, she held a leading role in the Emerging Artist Showcase, where she directed and choreographed for the show, and choreographed for her thesis project in what became a dance film. Sera has also had the pleasure of performing in Lakeland’s Historic Munn Park at the Art Crawl, working as a set dresser on the 2018 award winning short film “¡Come!” featured on HBOMax as “Eat!”, and was a part of 2019’s Cast of ZooTampa’s Creatures of the Night. These, along with many other wonderful experiences, such as participating in Central Florida Choreographers Collaboration’s 2020 & 2021 season, and starting volunteer work with the film-based nonprofit, Give Visuals, have all allowed her to grow and become a more well-rounded dancer and artist, leading her to have great learning experiences along the way. She looks forward to a bright future filled with many more opportunities to connect with other artists in the dance and film industry.
Welcome to Scénema, Sera! “Bound” is very inspiring and positive. Congratulations for making such an amazing video. What inspired you to work on it?
Hi there! Thank you very much! I’m extremely proud of this short film and the humble, yet successful journey it’s been on. The inspiration lies within my own personal experience. To keep a longer story shortened, I wanted to share how mental health struggles throughout the Covid-19 crisis impacted me directly. I knew that it was a popular topic on the news, and within the art world, but at the same token, I didn’t want it to have a negative tone. I wanted to make sure the film finished with the audience seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, as I had, because it is possible. Mental health struggles are so real and raw. I wanted to do such a real and heavy topic justice and with respect. Anxiety and depression were part of what I myself had gone through when I felt it was more important to stay inside for the better part of a whole year, for the safety of my severely immunocompromised mom. It affected me greatly but it wasn’t until I started doing art again, creating, talking with friends and family, dating and seeking help that I could see the light at the end of my own tunnel.
Sera, you have named the music video “Bound”. According to you what binds us?
I feel what binds us as a people, as humanity, is our emotions. Our ability to feel compassion and empathy. However, this definition is not quite why I named the dance film “BOUND”. It’s title comes from the many different definitions of the word: a real or imaginary point beyond which a person or thing cannot go, the line or relatively narrow space that marks the outer limit of something; an act of leaping into the air; to mark the limits of, to serve as a border for; to move with a light springing step, to propel oneself upward or forward into the air; fully committed to achieving a goal. These definitions connected the feelings of perseverance and strength I felt while creating this piece. That one can at first feel that they cannot go to a place, and yet can actually break past that point either on their own, with help, or with family, because that boundary, real or imaginary, can be moved or broken. Therefore, the word itself also assists in the goal of the emotions it should draw from people when the film is viewed.
The dance performance is so well coordinated. Tell us something about your preparation! How long did it take to choreograph everything?
The overall creation from the initial welcoming into Central Florida’s Choreographers Collaboration as a choreographer and creator, through rehearsals, and the preparation, filming and post-production process was a total of 9 months! The choreography itself took roughly 4 months I believe. It was quite a long journey. I had a very difficult time finding a location that fit the aesthetics that I envisioned that also allowed us to perform in the space with permitting and proper documentation. Luckily I was able to find a location that worked very well and I’m incredibly thankful to my cast, crew, family and boyfriend, and the CFCC Director, Amanda, for consistently supporting me during this project!
You all must have had a great time while shooting the video. It would be great if you could share some memorable incidents from the set!
Of course! The biggest challenge with this film was definitely time and weather. We filmed it totally out of order! We were driving and running up and down the parking garage, back and forth, to get the shots at the right moments for the best lighting and to avoid the afternoon Florida rain showers! We certainly all got our exercise in that day, but it was incredibly worth it.
You have earlier mentioned that Pandemic took a toll on your mind. I’m sure you had to struggle a lot. How did you keep yourself motivated?
That is an interesting and important question. I was certainly still struggling during the creation of this work. Someone struggling with their mental health doesn’t simply just “get better” or “not think about it”. It doesn’t work that way. It is a journey. Everyone’s journey is different and unique. Some people need medication, or therapy or both, or familial support, or a support animal or all of the above for any period of time. For myself, I continue to do the things I did during the film’s creation. I do things I love with the ones I love, I am continually seeking the best help for me because that journey on its own has still been a hard one, and I lean on my loved ones. I’m working on building the good boundaries I know I need and am still knocking down the bad ones. I am training my dog to be my Emotional Support Animal. So I’m doing what I can for myself, to maintain my journey to a better mental health state as best I can. It’s been and will be a journey still, but I’m looking forward to a brighter future.
Sera, how important dancing and music are to one struggling person? What do they mean to you?
Well I cannot speak for everyone, but for myself, they are everything. As an artist that creates dance and films and combines the two I have the deepest passion for music and without it life would be incredibly dull. My best friend, and the musical artist of the film, Emily Gabriel, is an FSU graduate with a degree in Music Therapy. Her music was incredibly influential to the creation of the film. I immediately think of her when I think of a question such as this as I know it’s a question better aimed for her. What do they mean to me? To me they mean everything. They are what allow me to express myself no matter what I am feeling or who is around. I can feel un-judged and free when moving to music. They go hand in hand to an artist, and to me, can be extremely healing.
The dancers wear black outfits, while the girl with the violin wears blue. Tell us what each colour stands for?
The colors themselves had little symbolism. The dancers outfits being black meant more to be for simplicity and uniformity with a lack of budget. The type of dress had a bit more symbolic gesture. It is tight and conforming leading more to the idea of them feeling confined by their anxiety. The other woman wearing blue with the guitar is Emily, our musical artist. I wanted her costume to feel ethereal and relaxed, the opposite of the dancers, allowing a juxtaposition to interlace within the piece and show that the anxiety can be let go of in the end.
Sera, what does it mean to be unbound?
To be unbound, is to feel free. It is to be able to live life without the darkness looming over consistently, without the rock in your chest, without the rope tight around your wrists. To be unbound is to reconnect with family and friends, start a healing journey, and learn to simply love again.
Lastly, it would be great if you could share some of your positivity with our readers. You’re an inspiration, and it’d be great if your words motivate them!
Wow, thank you so much. I’m honored to have been interviewed, and to be able to extend a bit of who I am and who I aim to be each and every day with you all! I guess the biggest words of positivity and inspiration I could extend are these: Never stop doing what you love. Even if it changes over time. By that I mean, as a young child I always thought I would be a dancer on broadway. That dream evolved and changed, even through college, a global pandemic and even after, but dance has still remained a part of that dream. It will always be in my life. I’ll always find a way for it to be there. Showing your passion is one of your greatest assets! And if you really want to grow within your field the best thing you can do is to connect with others who love what you love. Every industry is a communication industry. It’s rarely about all that you know about a topic, it is about who you know. Who you know can get you into the room and then what you know can keep you there. If you aren’t the most outgoing person, that is totally ok. You don’t have to be. It’s about showing your passion for what you love. People love to talk about themselves. Ask lots of questions and never be afraid to stand out in a crowd. Far too often, especially as women, we are told to be smaller or talk less, or be quiet. Be Big. Be bold. Be loud. Stand up. Speak for yourself and never be afraid to tell your story. The right person will hear you, know that you matter and be able to help you with the goals you have. They’ll guide you to the next step to your dreams and help you every step of the way. A lot of it takes just saying hello and asking a few questions, and from there, you never know where that simple human connection can take you – all from just doing what you love.