Mason Chapello – play. pause. repeat.

Mason Chapello Recent Alumnus Mason Chapello (BFA 2019) found his niche at Ohio State Dance in film/technology, with dual minors in video arts and arts entrepreneurship. His film work has screened globally at the 2017 Perth Screendance Festival, the 2018 DigiEye Film Festival, the 2018 Jacksonville Dance Film Festival and the 2019 Dance@30FPS International Dance Film Festival. He spent summer 2018 serving as a videographer at Jacob’s Pillow and completed his undergraduate studies while working as a lead video technician for Hall of Fame Dance Challenge.

For his BFA capstone project, Chapello decided to approach dance film from a research-based perspective, which led him to tackle the destructive memories of a past abusive relationship with the healing power of collaborative dance making. Chapello’s screendance play. pause. repeat. premiered at the 2019 Dance@30FPS International Dance Film Festival at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Shot, directed and edited by Chapello, “the film strives to investigate the multi-dimensional world of my younger self, mitigate the weight of a past experience and bolster a collaborative spirit alongside other artists,” says Chapello. “Instead of playing it safe by touching on subject matter that sits further towards the general and nonpersonal end of the spectrum, I dove deeper and pulled from a specific experience that has underlined, crossed out, ripped up and rewritten the story of my life.”

Having only worked with solo performers for his previous films, Chapello decided to challenge himself even further by casting five performers for play. pause. repeat., which allowed for a multidimensional collaborative work about what often feels like a solitary experience. Breaking up is hard to do, after all, and we all know the healing benefits of sharing grief, pain and loss, but what happens when a group’s wounds are sourced for a collaborative dance project?

“We openly discussed our highs, lows, breakthroughs and breakups, all of which moved through us during the improvisation jams that followed,” answers Chapello. “From what I observed during these sessions—which were accompanied by soundtracks that we felt an emotional resonance with—I stitched together movement phrases that I fed back to them in later rehearsals…. Although the camera movements within it are not overly kinetic, they create a sense of imbalance that echoes how I felt being caught up in the toxicity of my past relationship…. play. pause. repeat. employs modes of shooting and editing that have not only followed me through my entire trajectory as a filmmaker but have also helped me book work with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Hall of Fame Dance Challenge. Moving forward, I hope for the tools I’ve gained and the skills I’ve refined to continue serving me as I pursue a career in dance filmmaking and video documentation.”