Pro Dancer & Choreographer Ramone Wilkinson Expands into Film with Film Connection.
Film Connection Film School graduate Ramone Wilkinson is no stranger to the limelight. A professional dancer and choreographer, he’s worked with Camila Cabello, Kanye West, TLC, Gwen Stefani, Big Sean, Jennifer Lopez and he’s done commercials with brands like Apple, Google, and Nike. When Ramone found himself with some extra time on his hands due to the worldwide pandemic, rather than take it easy, he switched into high gear and pursued getting more training and connections in film so that he could expand his potential as a visionary creative who’s capable in working in a multitude of formats.
What made you reach out to Film Connection? What appealed to you about us?
“During the pandemic, I was searching for film schools…. I actually registered for [another well-known film school] before talking to a few people that told me it’s not a good idea…. So, once I went to Film Connection [online] and I read some of the newsletters and I watched the video on how it’s so hands-on and the price. And, you know, I was just like, ‘I could really balance this with my schedule and educate myself and, you know, gain a great connection with mentors that already have experience in that industry and in that realm.’ So it was very attractive to me. And then once I talked to them, you know, it sounded great, so I just went for it. …
Now here I am. It’s been a great experience. Daniel and Bayou are great people, great leaders, you know what I mean? Like it’s been awesome.” Ramone shares more of his experiences in Film Connection in our Straight Talk video below!
What was the impetus behind you deciding to learn filmmaking in the first place?
“I’ve always been a fan of movies… But what led me to have like, a big interest in it to the point where I wanted to pursue it was in 2019, a big choreographer, his name is celebrity choreographer, JaQuel Knight. He put on a choreography challenge on social media, inviting any choreographer from all around the world to submit and, you know, join in this competition.
So, I did that choreography challenge and that opened my mind up to truly being the visionary. You know, I had to cast, I had to choreograph, I had to hire a cinematographer. I had to make sure me and the cinematographer was on the same page. And this was every week. So it almost felt like I was doing a film where I had to shoot. You know, I had multiple shoot days every week. …
So, from having all of those responsibilities, it made me realize that I can do it. And it made me realize that I’m passionate about more mediums in artistry other than dance…. And, it also made me realize, I didn’t know enough and I think that was key to it all. I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t know enough because I would be able to handle this in a better way.’ And that led me to just wanting more education… and really become that visionary that I see myself being in the future.”
Due to the restrictions during the pandemic, you first interviewed with your future mentor, Daniel Lir (of Dream Team Directors) via phone. Please, tell us about that.
“I spoke to somebody from the Film Connection, and he basically walked me through, you know, the whole process… and he was like, ‘Your mentor can turn you down or they could say yes, based on the conversation, based on the vibe, based on their schedule. So go ahead and give him a call tomorrow.’ And that was nerve-wracking for me…. So I wrote down anything that I felt was important to bring up in our conversation just to be prepared beforehand. And the next day I called him, he was with his son at the park and we had a great conversation, you know.
He was like, ‘Oh, you know, I love how you just called me. And you were so confident and driven and forward about what you’re saying.’ Once I got on the phone with him, I felt this feeling in my heart and, you know, I just was talking from experience, from my struggles, from me having this vision of truly being a great creator and visionary to influence the world and my people and to show people that they can really, you know, create something out of nothing, you know? And I feel like I’m a great example of that.”
Let’s flashforward to the fantasy film you got to work on with your mentors, Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett.
“[First] they had me… helping out with preproduction. So specifically, I was helping out with casting and finding fashion film festivals that they would be able to submit to within the next two years.
I’ve seen all the roles for “Time is Eternal” that they had listed out and all the people that had submitted. And there were specific heights, waist [sizes], colors, certain descriptions for each character. [Daniel] told me to send him back who I feel is the best for each role, you know, just testing my mind… mind you, this was like… like hundreds of people. So it was great…. It made me realize I like casting. I really do. You see a lot of cool faces, a lot of cool personalities. Yeah. It’s really awesome. And it made me realize that there’s just a lot more to this and now I respect the casting director’s job way more now, you know.”
You even got to use your talent as a choreographer on “Time is Eternal.” Give us the lowdown on that.
“Bayou asked me to help with choreography for this one scene in “Time is Eternal” where the two main characters are dancing [as if they’re one person dancing with themselves]. That’s what it’s going to look like in the film. She trusted me to be able to help with the movement.
I’ve seen my choreography on big stages and television and etc., but for me to do it in a film, you know what I mean? I never had that experience. I’d never been exposed to that world. So, it was next level for me.”
Having to choreograph for the camera, especially for such a technically complex scene is quite a challenge.
“I had to keep in mind what the camera was doing. Usually, when I’m creating dance movement I’m not thinking about what the camera is doing. You know, I’m probably aware of where the camera’s going to be so I can like position, you know, the movement to be a certain way but I never choreographed and also was thinking about the choreography with the camera.
In “Time is Eternal” it was a body double. So, you know, it’s the same person dancing with the same person. So we can never see two people’s faces at one time. So you can imagine the challenge of me being in the studio thinking like, ‘Okay, so we have to film this a specific type of way. We can’t just film a why, film closeups. Like not each time we do it has to be done a certain type of way.’”
What are your goals for the future, short term, and long term?
“Right now, my goal is just to continue to learn…. But as far as like spot on goals as far as like things that I definitely want to knock off the list is, actually of creating and directing a commercial for a brand. And you know, having a budget and having that control over it and being able to hire a team and, you know, really bring [projects] to life. …
Long term, directing and producing big commercials, big movies with friends, myself, family, and, you know, potentially having a production company that I can own and, you know, just continue to work and be consistent and inspire. That’s the long-term goal.”
How can students make the most of Film Connection while they’re in it?
“I think students can make the most of Film Connection while they’re in it if they really take advantage of the eBook. There’s a lot of links… that you need to click on and like just do your own research and continue that research…. [As] soon as you learn something about lighting, maybe go look up more lighting videos and just focus that week on that, you know. Whatever your course is on, whether it’s directing or producing production design, treat that week, like, ‘Okay, this is my week dedicated to that specifically.’”
Learn more about Film Connection Film School for training in cinematography, film production, film editing and more!