Pat Garrett is an established Choreographer and Film Director who also has a vast amount of experience working as a dancer. Pat has worked extensively in film, theatre, television, commercials and music video. Her choreography credits include Little Shop of Horrors (Warner Bros, Director Frank Oz), Muppet Christmas Carol (Jim Henson Productions, Director Brian Henson, starring Michael Caine), Pop Promos for Supergrass (Director Garth Jennings, Nominated for Brit and MTV Awards for best video), McDonalds Commercials and Eastenders. Pat also directs and recently won the award for 'Best Film Under 75 Minutes' at the Swansea International Film Festival for her film David. Pat is a long standing member of the UK Choreographers Directory.
What is your most recent choreographic work?
My most recent work purely as a choreographer was the salsa dance episode for Eastenders, but now that I'm working as a film director, I'm also doing the movement/staging and choreography for my own films. Most recently I directed a short comedy vampire film called Just One More Bite which was shot in Hastings where I now live, and which was nominated for Best Horror Film at the Swansea International Film Festival in June this year where it had it's first screening. As it was a musical, it was totally staged and I was particularly happy to be nominated as it was up against 4 feature length horror films! At the same festival, my film David won the award for 'Best Film Under 75 Minutes', so my first visit to Wales was a very happy experience. For both films, as it was fairly simple, I did the staging and choreography myself, but I think if I needed some complex choreography for a film that I was directing, I'd rather get a choreographer to work with me. Directing is a pretty full time job!
What made you want to become a choreographer?
I was a dancer before becoming a choreographer and to be honest, there were often times when I really wanted to contribute to the choreography and even on occasions, when I felt that I could do a better job! When I tore both cartilages in my knee while dancing with the Kiel Opera House in Germany, it seemed as if fate was deciding for me. After I left Kiel, I taught dance for a while, but missed performing so I trained as an actress and worked for a few years in touring and repertory theatre. When the opportunity came up to join a contemporary dance company with the 'carrot' of choreographing for the company as well as dancing with them, I leapt at the chance, so to speak! I've always been passionate about music and as a choreographer, I've had the opportunity to work with some wonderful composers. A composer friend of a my ex husband suggested me for a short comedy film called Goodie-Two-Shoes which was set in a rough school where ballroom dancing was introduced for the rowdiest stream in the school.
I got the job of choreographing the film and working with some great young people and the film won the BAFTA award for best short film and was also nominated for an Oscar. I've worked on and off with the same director many times over the years. I love working with both dancers and actors for the very different challenges and I've been fortunate to work with some great dancers and actors and on some very commercial projects. At best, the collaborative process can be really inspiring and satisfying and over the years, I've also worked with some really good directors. I've always enjoyed using the medium of movement and dance, whether to tell a story or to reveal more about a character or situation. Dance can often say more clearly, more succinctly and more movingly what can take pages of script to reveal in words.
Which choreographic work are you most proud of/is most memorable to you?
As said, I've been very lucky to do a lot of very varied work in film, theatre, television, commercials and music video. I've also worked with some really inspiring directors from whom I've learnt a lot and with whom I've had a really good relationship. It's hard to pick just one, but I suppose if I must, the film of The Little Shop of Horrors was one of the best and most rewarding jobs I've ever done. It's also a stage musical that I really love, so to win the job of choreographing the whole film and working with such a great group of actors and dancers was a wonderful opportunity for me. It was directed by Frank Oz and many of the creative team were part of the original stage show so I felt really privileged to be working with them all. We shot it at Pinewood Studios and I worked on it for seven months - a very long time to be working on a film and a particularly cold winter to be spending it on the old 007 stage which was so enormous and very cold!
I probably learnt more about film-making on that film than on any other that I've worked on. One particularly painful lesson occurred when we shot the first 2/3rds of the opening sequence early on in the shoot and then finally shot the last section four months later! We had to pick up from where we'd left off and the three girls all marked through the number and made the turn at exactly the same moment. It later emerged that they'd all done the turn a beat too early so the whole sequence had to be re-shot at great expense because the film wouldn't cut together because of the turn being at the wrong place.
A major learning curve for me and something that has never happened to me again! Happily, Frank Oz later recommended me to Brian Henson when he was looking for a choreographer for the film of Muppet Christmas Carol and that was the start of a very happy relationship for me with Jim Henson's company. That opportunity also led to my puppeteering for them and my relationship with them is still ongoing to this day. In February of this year, I puppeteered the fake legs of Big Daddy (lead guitarist) for the Scissor Sisters in their number I Don't Feel Like Dancing which opened the Brit Awards and was filmed live for TV. So yes, for many reasons, if I can only pick one favourite, it has to be the film of Little Shop.
For more information about Pat, please visit her page in the UKCD or contact Alice Firth on 020 7713 0730 or via email email@example.com