Bittersweet remembrance of a loved one, of loneliness and loss.
Interview with Writer/Director/Choreographer Nicola Hepp
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I had been thinking about making a film with my father and my mentor, both of whom are at a mature age. They inspired me to think about the ageing process in general and what that means to us. Somewhere along the line the story developed of a man losing his wife, connecting also to a lifelong interest I have with the Greek myth of Orpheus.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think the feelings I wanted to convey with this film are something anyone who has ever lost someone can relate to. Also in fact, the film is not only about losing someone else, but also about loosing one’s youth, oneself maybe even.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Ageing and loss are of course very universal themes. For me they become personal as I witness the loneliness my father is going through, being far away from him and therefore relatively absent in his daily life.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script evolved from the tiniest of ideas of a couple sitting on a bench into the shifting back and forth between young and old at a quite early stage. I was very clear on the people I wanted to work with for this film: the two older dancers and also the two younger dancers who represent them at a younger age. During the editing it became clear that we didn’t need to stay chronological in our sequence, in fact, as someone is remembering, we can jump much more back and forth than I had anticipated. The shift from summer to autumn is more blurred and subtle because of this.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Many people have shared with me that they were very touched by the film, that it seemed to be a very brief moment, and that they became saddened towards the end. Someone told be he appreciated the subtlety of the film and the message it conveys, but questioned whether it might be misunderstood for being too simple? I think that might be the case if you listen too much to the text of the song by Lou Reed which is the soundtrack of the film. For me it is another layer, but the meaning of the film is not exactly telling the story of the text.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Some people get very hung up on the physical attributes of the dancers/actors. I deliberately made a choice for my actors at an early stage. For me they are representing each other and the exact skin tone someone has is irrelevant. There is something else, something more important about the way that they are as people that made me choose them as the younger/older versions of each other.
I had honestly thought that it wouldn’t matter in this day and age, but apparently skin tone is still an issue. These people actually see the young man as another man- so not the younger representation of the same man. That changes the story quite a bit.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m hoping more people will be interested in seeing the film. Ideally I would like to interest people for dance films and screendance in general and in seeking my films out. (Dance) film is such a magnificent medium, I can reach a much bigger audience via film than I can making a live dance performance. It is wonderful to know that people around the world are seeing my work.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Anyone interested in helping me out to distribute and make my work more visible is welcome to contact me.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like for people to think about what it means to become older, especially in today’s society where youth is so coveted and age often not respected.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
‘What did you think it meant?’
Would you like to add anything else?
My father (the old actor in the film) has in recent years become something of a ‘muse’ for me. I am fascinated with his career and life and how he is finding himself not able to do the things that he used to. In a way, my sister and I tell him, it’s natural to not be able to jump up on the table anymore when you’re 84, but at the same time, that is who he is and always will be. A showman raised on Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, he is constantly the center of attention. Which is why every little decline in his health makes for such a big shift. This theme of ageing, memory and loss is recurring in my work. My first film, Echo (https://vimeo.com/156726289) was about a man (again my father) seeing himself in the mirror as the young boy that he still feels like on the inside. Several of my films deal with death, a doppelganger and loneliness.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m currently developing a new film based on a Swedish myth, researching for another short experimental film involving footage I have from a piece I made several years ago, as well as looking into more commercial work within film.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Songs of the Underworld
Bittersweet remembrance of a loved one, of loneliness and loss.
Director: Nicola Hepp
Producer: Stichting Nicola Hepp Dansproducties
Writer: Nicola Hepp
About the writer, director and producer: Nicola Hepp is a Swedish filmmaker and choreographer, based in the Netherlands. Holding a Master in Choreography and New Media from Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, she has worked with video as an integral part of live performance and installations since 2002.
Her films Echo, Walk, The Double and Songs of the Underworld have been screened and awarded at (dance) film festivals internationally.
Key cast: Rolf Hepp, Martinette Janmaat, Reggy Deekman, Céline Moza
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): yes
Made in association with:
Postoffice Amsterdam, Good Sounds Music
Where can I see it in the next month?
At LA Dance Film Festival 26+27 Jan
Utah Dance Film Festival 24 +25 Feb
Philadelphia Screendance Festival 3+4 March