What do you get when you combine the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire studio system musicals with the DIY philosophy of Roger Corman? “Moving Day,” from writer-director-producer Christopher Malcolm, whose charming short film was part of New Filmmaker Los Angeles‘ recent celebration of Black Cinema.
“I’m a big classic movie person. If you know me for more than five minutes, you’ll probably hear names like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers — who happen to be the inspiration for this particular film. So making this was really kind of an homage to those light, fun musicals from the studio system,” Malcolm tells Carolyn McDonald in an NFMLA interview you can watch here:
Malcolm is an award-winning director, cinematographer, and photographer who started as a screenwriter and has gone on to become a narrative and commercial artist who has worked on campaigns for brands such as Nike, Lululemon, and ASICS.
He has earned award recognition from such organizations as the American Society of Cinematographers, Communications Arts, APA, American Photography, and AI-AP International Motion Arts, among others, and has appeared on outlets like Turner Classic Movies to discuss classic Hollywood.
Malcolm stresses that he wakes up every morning in search of new stories to tell — but he also keeps several in his back pocket for when the right moment arises. One influence for that approach is the legendary low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman, who helped launch the careers of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jonathan Demme, among many others.
“I take a Roger Corman approach to producing,” says Malcolm. “I have a million and one ideas always ready, then when something amazing in the real world happens that allows me to make it for the right price, that’s what gets bumped up. “
“Moving Day” is romantic comedy dance film “about finding the right one at just the right time,” he explains in the film’s logline. It originated when he was watching a scene from the 1935 Rogers and Astaire film Top Hat.
“In the movie, Ginger Rogers is trying to sleep and Fred Astaire is annoying her by dancing,” Malcolm says. “I started to think of kind of an update to that.”
Christopher Malcolm on Shooting ‘Moving Day’
He saw an opportunity when his friend Brandon Claybon, an actor with whom he had worked on an ASICS campaign, mentioned on Instagram that he had a new apartment. Malcolm’s idea for “Moving Day” called for two apartments. So his wheels started to spin.
“All I had to do was find a second apartment,” he says.
Claybon, who is also a producer on “Moving Day,” charmed his way into getting access to a second unit, and they were ready to go.
Malcolm also enlisted actress/dancer Gakenia Muigai, with whom he has often worked over the last decade. He had known for a long time that he wanted to pair up Claybon and Muigai in the film.
“I learned a long time ago that pretty much 90 percent of the job is having the right people on screen,” Malcolm says.
He has several other projects in motion, including a rom-com inspired by an experience on the New York City subway, an action comedy in the vein of the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz film Night and Day, and a six-episode limited series he describes as Breaking Bad meets Killing Eve.
“Moving Day” was part of NFMLA’s February Film Festival and annual InFocus: Black Cinema program, spotlighting Black stories and emerging Black talent in front of and behind the camera.
The day began with InFocus: Black Cinema Shorts I, telling stories of family, loss, and joy. It continued with director Stuart McClave’s debut feature documentary “On The Line: The Richard Williams Story,” and concluded with InFocus: Black Cinema Shorts II, featuring stories of connection, community, identity, mental health, climate activism, and motherhood.
NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.
Main image: Gakenia Muigai in “Moving Day.”