Joanna Werner Dance Academy Interview
Cast: Xenia Goodwin, Alicia Banit, Dena Kaplan, Jordan Rodrigues, Tara Morice
Director: Samantha Strauss, Joanna Werner
Genre: Drama, Music
Running Time: 90 minutes
Synopsis: The feature film based on the incredibly successful two-time Emmy nominated Australian TV series, -Dance Academy', that saw a group of teenagers through the ups-and-downs of elite dance training at the National Academy of Dance.
Picking up eighteen months after the television series finale, the much-loved characters have moved on from the Academy and are living very different lives. Tara (Xenia Goodwin) was destined to become one of the top dancers of her generation but suffered a devastating injury that crippled her career… Can she make a comeback when she discovers what being defined by a dream really means?
With all the familiar favourites from the original series and some new faces, Dance Academy is a heartwarming story of ordinary people fighting to achieve their extraordinary dreams.
Release Date: April 6th, 2017
Interview with Joanna Werner, Producer and Executive Producer
Joanna Werner is a three time Emmy Nominated, AFI, AACTA and multi Logie award winning producer. Joanna is the Executive Producer, Producer and Co-Creator of the acclaimed teen drama series -Dance Academy' which was the first production for her company Werner Film Productions. -Dance Academy' first screened in 2010 in Australia on ABC3 and has gone on to be a global success screening in over 160 countries around the world. The series has won many awards in Australia and around the world and in 2011 and 2014 the series was recognised with nominations at the International Emmy Awards in the category of Children's and Youth.
In 2015 Joanna was the Executive Producer, Producer and Co-Creator on the teen series -Ready For This', a co-venture between Werner Film Productions and Blackfella Films. The series has won a Logie, an AACTA, Silver World Medal at the New York Festival's International Television & Film Awards, an Australian Writer's Guild Award, a Director's Guild Award and has recently been nominated for an International Emmy.
Joanna recently produced -Secret City', a 6 x 1 hour political thriller for Foxtel and Matchbox in Association with Werner Film Productions and is currently in post-production on -Dance Academy: The Movie' – the feature film following on from the -Dance Academy' series to be released in cinemas on April 6 2017.
Previously Joanna produced the hit tween series -H2O- Just Add Water' and -The Elephant Princess' for Jonathan M Shiff Productions.
Joanna established Werner Film Productions in 2008 and the company was recently nominated for Australian Production Business of the Year.
Question: How would you describe the Dance Academy film, in five words?
Joanna Werner: Aspirational, inspiring, rollercoaster, amazing, best.
Question: How long has the Dance Academy movie been in the pipeline?
Joanna Werner: We always dreamed that we would do three series and then a movie, but it is absolutely a dream come true that it has actually happened. After we finished the third series we were really happy with where each character was at but then after a little while we kept thinking -what next'? There was still so much we knew the characters needed to achieve and explore so after a little break after we finished season three we started this script and were so thrilled to be back in the world of Dance Academy.
Question: What was it like working with Samantha Strauss again, on the film?
Joanna Werner: Sam is the heart and soul of Dance Academy so it was just an absolute pleasure to read the first draft of her script. Whilst I knew from the development period what the story would be, I was still like a fan eagerly reading to see what happens to everyone!
Question: Which of the Dance Academy characters can you relate to, most?
Joanna Werner: Well I have to say I probably relate most closely with Abigail. She is very driven and can at times get too serious about perusing her dreams – watching Abigail reminds me to relax a little more. I have never hit anyone with a point shoe though!
Question: You were pregnant, during the filming; can you tell us about the difficulties associated with the filming process?
Joanna Werner: I was just so tired! I hadn't realised that being pregnant made you so exhausted, although it makes sense – you are making another person! I would lock the door to my office for 10 minutes at lunch time and listen to a meditation ap on my phone to help me get through the long days. The long hours are always one of the tough things about filming, but then you get to watch our fabulous actors on set so it makes it worthwhile.
Question: What was the best part, for you, being back on the set of Dance Academy?
Joanna Werner: It was so fabulous to be able to work with our amazing cast again. When we filmed the first series Xenia was 15 and it was her first time ever on a set and now here she was acting as the lead in a feature film and absolutely killing it! I am so incredibly proud of her and all of our gorgeous cast.
Question: Which of the feedback from the film has been your favourite?
Joanna Werner: I watched the film at my local cinema in Melbourne and there were a lot of fans in the audience. Listening to their reactions as the film played was the best feedback we could ever have.
Question: Many difficult yet relevant themes are addressed during the film; is there one that was particularly important for you to include?
Joanna Werner: Being able to pick yourself up after a major setback is such an incredibly important thing and I love that we show a very real approach to following your dreams, this isn't the Hollywood version where everyone's lives are perfect!
Question: What are your most proud of, in the film?
Joanna Werner: I'm so proud of how exhilarated you feel after watching the film. I have seen it around 50 times now and I love it each and every time, and always feel so inspired as the final credits roll.
Question: What's next for Dance Academy?
Joanna Werner: Great question! I think we will all see more of Dance Academy in the future so watch this space…!
Question: Are we likely to see a second Dance Academy movie?
Joanna Werner: Well that would be another dream come true if it were to happen – we shall have to wait and see!
Interview by Brooke Hunter