Logline: Indie pop songstress Sophie Koh reflects on the intersection of music and cultural identity in the lead up to the release of her fourth studio album, Book of Songs.
Current Status: Completed and released online
Writer/Director: Natalie Cunningham
Producer: Gregory Erdstein
Commissioned by: Creative Victoria and Victorian College of the Arts
About the director: Natalie Cunningham is a Melbourne-based writer/director and graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts. She is drawn to engaging and inspiring storytelling and has an affinity for exploring themes of family, memory and cultural identity in her work.
Looking for (i.e. buyer, distributor, sales agent, producer, media interest) Media interest.
Awards: The Dressmaker Award - Setting Sun Short Film Festival
Congratulations! Why did you decide to make this film?
Homesong is one of four short films in the documentary mini-series ‘Generators’ which saw VCA Film and Television graduates team up with artists who had received support through the VicArts Grants program. Singer-songwriter Sophie Koh and I collaborated to create Homesong, which explores the inspiration behind Sophie’s upcoming album, Book of Songs.
Why is the film called Homesong? Is it a specific or universal story?
The title Homesong represents the themes that weave their way throughout the film. It is a universal story that explores notions of belonging, family and cultural identity and in Sophie’s case, the ways in which these elements have inspired her music.
How did you find the main character?
Sophie and I met through series producer Gregory Erdstein who basically paired us up for this project! The first time we met, we chatted for hours and we realised that we shared very similar views on culture, language, and family; Sophie in the context of her Chinese-Malay background and myself as an Australian of Greek heritage. We spoke about language, music, our mothers and grandmothers, and food! When we began filming for Homesong, we delved back into some of these topics and explored the idea that music can be a way of honouring one’s heritage and keeping those links alive.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We’ve received wonderful feedback on the film so far. Homesong recently received the inaugural ‘The Dressmaker Award’ established by producer Sue Maslin and The Dressmaker author Rosalie Ham, who created the award for Best Short Film by a Female Filmmaker at the Setting Sun Short Film Festival in Melbourne.
Sophie has really embraced the piece and this is what’s most important to me. As filmmakers we make so many choices in the editing process and it’s always my goal to create a piece that the person featured can identify with and find truthful, so having Sophie’s support for what we’ve created has been fantastic.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
People have responded to the film in a really positive way and it’s great to see it resonate with diverse audiences. Our wonderful editor, Ashlee Lukas, did a brilliant job of bringing the key messages of embracing difference and the importance of creativity to the forefront, and it’s these universal themes that I’m thrilled to see people respond to so wholeheartedly.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
Homesong is both a standalone documentary and also a behind-the-scenes look at an incredibly talented artist who is soon to release her fourth studio album, Book of Songs. We invite people to learn a bit more about Sophie through our film!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify the message of this film?
The film has been released on-line and we are still working on ways to connect it with audiences through film festivals and various online platforms.
What type of impact would you like this film to have?
Homesong is a reflection on some important and universal themes; I think it can inspire people to embrace what it is that makes them unique, to appreciate and explore their cultural backgrounds and to pursue their creative goals.
What other films are you developing or directing now?
I’m currently working on a series of short documentaries based on the documentary Following Shira’s Journey that I co-directed in 2014. I’m also developing new ideas around a feature-length documentary that I plan to shoot in France in 2017.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A huge thank you to the talented team behind Homesong: Sophie Koh, Gregory Erdstein (Producer), Ashlee Lukas (Editor), Peter Jacobsen (DOP), Fabrice Galli (Sound Recordist), Jessica Harris (Title & Credits), Creative Victoria and the Victorian College of the Arts.