Cinephiles often have a romanticized idea of what life is like on set for an actor, and one thing that regularly gets ignored is the sheer amount of waiting that is involved. When any given scene is being shot from multiple angles, there are frequent breaks in production made so that the crew can make proper adjustments, and that means that the performers have to find ways to kill time. It can be weirdly draining, especially when it comes to night shoots, but director Amy Poehler, for one, executed her own personal cure for those moments during the making of her new movie: creating spontaneous dance parties.

I spoke with the cast of the new coming-of-age Netflix film last month, and one question that I asked in the different virtual rooms was about their favorite memories from set. Multiple actors brought up Amy Poehler’s tendency to raise the energy level, with Sabrina Haskett specifically remembering one particularly long night in the making of Moxie:

I definitely have this memory from on set. It was a night shoot, so we'd been there for quite a while. It was about three in the morning and we'd kind of hit this tired lull, and in walks Amy carrying this portable speaker, playing upbeat pop music, and this spontaneous dance party just happened. We all were singing along, dancing, partying, and it just really was like, that is how it was on set every day. It was just this huge, wonderful, happy party.

Apparently it wasn’t that one night, however. Nico Hiraga, who got some coming-of-age experience under his belt prior to Moxie with his role in Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, also reflected on the experience of downtime on set turning from a bore into an event that took any and all stress or pressure out of the work. Said the actor,

We'd finish one scene, and then some of the actors would go to the cast green room, and we'd all be sitting and waiting for a set to get the new angles, get the new shots. Amy would come in with her speaker and her headphones and she just blast music and we'd all just dance. I mean, that's not work, you know? It didn't feel like work at all. But those little breaks in between were very much needed, and those are some favorite memories.

Moxie, which marks Amy Poehler’s return behind the camera after 2019’s Wine Country, stars Hadley Robinson as Vivian, a shy girl who becomes an anonymous feminist revolutionary in her high school when she publishes a zine sharing the title of the movie. Sabrina Haskett plays Kaitlynn, a classmate who joins the protagonist’s cause after feeling objectified by sexist dress code rules, and Nico Hiraga plays Seth, whom Vivian has a crush on and becomes a supporter of the cause.

Alycia Pascual-Peña plays Lucy, a new girl in school who winds up inspiring Vivian to be more outspoken, and she too shared the sentiments of her co-stars – adding that the atmosphere on the set of Moxie opened up the opportunity to make real friendships. She told me,

In those like small moments during lens changes and breaks I got to know people, and we danced and we laughed and we also had serious conversations, talk about the most ridiculous things as well. Like we really got close and got to know each other, and I personally felt like I grew as an individual on the set because of how amazing our entire cast and crew was.

It’s common for actors to appreciate working with a director who has experience in their shoes as a performer, but it sounds like Amy Poehler is an extreme joy to work with even beyond that.

Moxie, which also stars Ike Barinholtz, Lauren Tsai, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Josie Totah, and Marcia Gay Harden, was released earlier this week, and is now streaming on Netflix.

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