Dance Party, USA

2006 | 66 minutes | NR | IMDb

Directed by Aaron Katz

Cinematography by Sean McElwee

Starring Cole Pensinger, Anna Kavan, Ryan White, Natalie Buller, Sarah Bing, Brendan McFadden & Chad Hartigan

Premiered at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival

New York Times review | Slant review | IndieWire interview


Apathetic seventeen-year-old Gus hangs around doing nothing with his buddy Bill most of the time. Gus likes to tell half-true stories about all the girls he's slept with and all the drugs he's done. Jessica is seventeen too. She doesn't seem to have much in common with anyone anymore - not even her best friend Christie. Every year this one guy Brian throws a 4th of July party. The party's never that great, but there's free beer, so people always go. Gus and Jessica meet each other there. They watch fireworks outside and light sparklers. Gus says that he's not the sort of guy she thinks he is. He tells her a secret. Things are different after that. (Official - pdf)


- Aaron Katz's Director's Statement (pdf):
My goal with Dance Party, USA was to create a film that felt like real life. Most films about teens are filled with people who don't act how anyone really acts. I wanted to make a different kind of film. I had the idea to use some portions of overheard conversations I jotted down while riding on a train. With those as a seed I wrote what would eventually become Dance Party, USA. Two years later I had the opportunity to make the film. My chief objective was strip away everything unneeded and create an environment that gave the actors the opportunity to be present in the moment, really listen to each other, and really respond to each other. During the two years that followed, in which we cut the film, our constant aim was to find the moments of truth, where the actors were just real people dealing with what was going on around them. Throughout the process I have tried to remain true to my initial goal of creating something simple, honest, and direct.

Filmed in Portland, Oregon

Shot on the Panasonic DVX-100

"We decided to shoot it on the DVX100, which Zach - who cut the movie - already owned."
-- Aaron Katz

Budget: $3,000


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