Creatively, Passionately and Tirelessly: ·LY Media films first-ever DM documentary

Stephanie Haines, Writer

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In all of its 39 years, Northwestern University Dance Marathon has never been featured in a documentary — until now, thanks to ·LY Media.

The still-young production team assembled an executive board and dedicated themselves to making short-form films of under-the-radar people and things in spring 2012.

“·LY is the suffix to an adverb, how you do something,” editor in chief Edwin Lim said. “The telling is far more important than what it is.”

The group, who all have a common interest in film, decided to start a film outlet of their own.

“We were looking for something different,” ·LY Media spokeswoman Emily Ryles said. “It can sometimes be hard to get involved in film when there’s less community, more of a business. We were looking for something more fun rather than stressful. It’s hard to get work on a set.”

The group’s first gig included some entrepreneurial bargaining. Last spring, the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation hired the group to film a short documentary about an entrepreneurial fair, but instead of a monetary exchange, the Center funded the group’s official filming equipment.

“It was a win-win for all of us because we got our equipment and the Farley Center got a great video,” Ryles said. “A professional video team would have cost a lot more.”

The group attributes their late start this year to Hurricane Sandy. Their equipment, which was being shipped from New York to Evanston, got lost in the mayhem and finally arrived three weeks later. This fall, the group shot a Farley Fireside Chat and a few acts at the Comedy Forum.

But their real investment, challenge and goal is to capture the all the passion, excitement and emotion of DM 2013.

“In the 28th hour, you really get emotional,” executive producer Shivani Chanillo said. “There’s crying when they reveal how much they made. There’s a lot of reasons why people dance.”

So many parts of DM warrant a spot in the documentary, the group agreed. Ryles and Chanillo have danced before and recall some experiences they hope to capture on film.

“Saturday morning before you have breakfast, you have to run a lap around the tent,” Communication sophomore Chanillo said. “Your body is so tired, it makes you want to jump off a cliff. But then you get a bagel.”

Weinberg junior Lim said he is excited to film the emcees, Demetri Elias and Chloe Woodhouse, and their jokes and costumes.

Beyond the 30 hours itself, nervous energy precedes the onset of the marathon.

Alec Khan, Communication senior and film team director, said featuring the pre-DM events would capture the anxiety.

“From the moment when you leave the dorm room, the anxiety, did you nap, did you sleep right up to the moment?” Khan said.

“It’s really the 15 to 20 hours that are the hardest, before you are halfway there,” Ryles said. “I remember last year I fell asleep standing up in the line for the bathroom. We want to capture that. People physically hold you up.”

Following the intense 30 hours are components that make DM so rewarding for its participants: the walk home, the applause and the support from friends. Lim said he wants to film these aspects.

“People applauding in the dorms when you get back,” Lim said. “I want to capture that.”

The group faces a few minor logistical challenges for filming the 30-hour marathon. Lighting is the biggest concern, because the tent is so dark, but their persistence won’t stop them from collecting as much footage as they can.

While DM holds great importance to ·LY Media right now, the group does not lose sight of what inspires them about film.

“We were asked that question, what inspires you about film, in the original interviews to be a part of the executive board,” Khan said. The group came up with many examples, citing French filmmaker Michel Gondry and other people “who restructure the way you think film operates.”

“We knew that the visual medium can tell really powerful stories on the day-to-day in particular and not just DM,” Lim said, who added that technology enables the ability to record these little pieces of life. “There’s a lot you can do with so little money now. The price of the camera really enables this spontaneity. With the lens you have, it’s hard to make something look bad. We can really make this conversation interesting. The way I think of it, anyone can be a photographer, blogger or videographer, but there are so many stories and people you don’t know on this campus that you wish you did.”

The group put up a form on their website for students who would like to be profiled for the DM documentary, which the group said they expect to be a 20-minute film released in the fall.

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