his year’s Sundance
Independent Film Festival is particularly interesting for dead people. The
largest and most important film festival in the
United States will showcase works from various
categories such as drama, documentary, world cinema
and short films. Timothy Albrecht, a University
of Utah graduate, used the latter medium to showcase
his choreography of a morbid yet romantic tale.
“Pretty Dead Girl” is a musical about
Mortie (Christian Campbell, “Trick”),
a young doctor whose fetish is sleeping with the
beautiful dead bodies that pass through his morgue.
He meets with Viola (Christina Souza, “Selena”),
a psychiatrist who finally convinces him to love
a real woman.
Albrecht became involved with this year’s “Pretty
Dead Girl” when the director, Shawn Ku, approached
him and asked him to choreograph his new project.
A Broadway performer, Harvard graduate and University
of Southern California film school graduate, Ku
has been friends with Albrecht for 12 years. Together,
they spent almost all of last year making plans
for “Pretty Dead Girl.”
The film had a 12-day shoot last August in
Los Angeles. It was shot entirely on film rather
than digitally, meaning that the quality is
comparable to a feature-length film—rich, noticeable
colors reflect the soft, warm lighting.
According to Albrecht, this was “the most
hands-on experience” he’s had. He describes
the experience as one where he learned a great
deal with brainstorming, setting up shots and working
the camera. The film employed a full staff and
sets were built on a soundstage—more money
went into this project than what is usually spent
on a short film. Albrecht also enjoyed working
with the “smart, Broadway girls.”
The 15-member female ensemble performs in a
fresh, Broadway theater jazz style. They are
passionate and riveting in memorable numbers,
including a dream sequence in which they dance
around the young doctor in lacy, black outfits.
Albrecht also had the opportunity to work with
non-dancers, choreographing an opening sequence
for them, as well as some partnering work for
the main characters. He describes the film
as a dark comedy, where the audience is likely
to get caught up in the love story because the
characters are so likeable.
“Pretty Dead Girl” is featured in the
Shorts Program III, which deals with themes such
as psychiatry, homophobia, fatherless children
and relationships between siblings. This particular film
is a 20-minute musical comedy that is likely to
appeal to a wide audience.
The shorts category consists of six programs that
include five or six different films. Each program
explores certain themes or ideas, which are expressed
through films ranging from eight to 35 minutes
long. The shorts programs celebrate cultural
diversity (as does the rest of the festival besides the competition),
with films from Canada, Japan, Mexico and the
Albrecht has accomplished much in the world of
choreography. Originally from Montana, this inspiring
individual attended and graduated from the U
in 1988 with a degree in business and marketing.
While earning his degree he developed an interest
in dance and theater, taking many of these classes
on the side.
Following his studies at the U, he moved to New
York City to pursue theater as a performer and
a dancer. What’s surprising and impressive
at the same time is that Albrecht did not have
any previous dance training prior to coming to
Utah. He took his first dance class at the university
at age 21. Since then, he has worked as a dancer
and choreographer on a myriad of film, television,
theater and corporate projects including Broadway, “The
Rosie O’Donnell Show” and two earlier
Sundance short films, “Intern” (2000)
and “Camp” (2003).
For the last four years, Albrecht has focused
mainly on choreography. He hopes one day to come
back to Utah to stage another production for
Pioneer Memorial Theatre, where he choreographed
holiday hit musical “Peter Pan.” He
sees his upcoming trip to Salt Lake City for the
film festival as not just a celebration but also
a reunion. He is looking forward to spending time
with friends, and going to some of his favorite
spots like Hires Big H, The Pie Pizzeria and B&D
“Pretty Dead Girl” premieres tomorrow,
with additional showings on Jan. 17, 20, 21, 23
and 24. Tickets are available by calling (877) SFF-TIXS
or by visiting www.sundance.org.