Festival recognizes film music
May 22, 2012
Deborah Chesher made a name for herself as a rock ‘n’ roll photographer, snapping pictures of everyone from the Beach Boys to John Lee Hooker to Led Zeppelin.
She is coming to Park City this weekend not as a photographer, but as an independent filmmaker.
Chesher’s film "End of the Innocents" will screen Saturday, May 26, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., during the Park City Film Music Festival, running Friday, May 25, through Sunday, June 3.
"I am so excited to be coming to Park City that I’m packing up my apartment to go on the road and I don’t care if I come back," Chesher said during a phone call to The Park Record from Los Angeles, Calif. "I’m getting in touch with my rock ‘n’ roll influences and hitting the road."
"End of Innocents" is a 22-minute film about a family who falls apart after their 11-year-old son disappears, and the father is the prime suspect, Chesher said.
"For me, there is nothing worse in society than people who hurt children and animals," she said. "If an adult hurts an adult at least there is a chance of self-defense, but to do something bad to an innocent is a terrible thing."
The film is a cautionary tale that developed from a script Chesher had written in 2010.
"People are so shocked that things like this happen, but in reality it happens every day, at this very second," she said. "I tried to show how the different entities the family, the police and the media work after a child disappears."
The film is part of a bigger project that Chesher will finish later.
"We had so many things go right while we were shooting and I decided it was the spirits of the children who (have disappeared and) didn’t make it who were helping us with the film," she said. "Even fundraising for the film was special. I managed to raise $10,000 on http://www.kickstarter.com in 12 days from people I did not know, and that doesn’t usually happen."
Chesher filmed the movie at a friend’s property in Topanga Canyon in California.
"The second day, I felt like I needed to go to the hospital, but after that, I felt like I could have worked continuously for days," she said. "I guess when you have purpose and energy it infuses into your system and you become the Energizer Bunny.
"I started directing and did this short and fell in love with directing, and that’s a problem now," Chesher said with a laugh. "I had no idea that I would like it, but it was fun."
To add some atmosphere to the film, Chesher recruited award-winning film-score composer Ciarán Hope to do the music.
"He did such an amazing job on the film," Chesher said. "When I contacted him, he was working on a concerto in Ireland, but said he would do it.
"I thought he would just phone something in for me and it will be done, but he wrote every original cue and got his sister, who is a cellist, and another woman, who is a soprano, to perform an abstract sequence on the score."
Hope had met Chesher a few years ago during a college event, where he was a speaker.
"We ended up talking and we got on, so we exchanged cards, as you’re supposed to do during events like that," Hope said during another phone call from Los Angeles. "We stayed in touch and met once afterwards just to follow up."
Chesher told Hope she was shooting a film and asked for help.
"I was in Ireland working on a violin concerto and I felt it would be a nice break, because I was going a little mad doing all this work," Hope said. "She sent me over the clips and I worked on it over there and sent the music back to her."
Hope recruited his sister, Gráinne, to play cello and soprano Kate St. Pierre for the music.
"We were in the same house in Ireland and I cornered my sister," Hope said with a laugh. "I threw the music in front of her and told her to play and that I would fix it later.
"It was really nice because the solo cello added a lot to the film."
St. Pierre did some work from a piece that included Latin text and organ.
"I wrote a little piece with the organ because there is a religious undertone in the film, although it’s not a religious film," Hope said. "I’m not playing the organ like I would play in church, but just getting some sound."
In addition to "End of the Innocents," Hope’s music is also heard on another film that will be screened at the festival, Katherine Torpey’s feature "Truth About Kerry."
The film is about an American woman whose best friend is found dead on a beach in Ireland and she goes to investigate.
"The writing for both films turned out smoothly and there were no mad rewrites," Hope said. "The biggest difference was I was in Los Angeles working on ‘Truth About Kerry’ and Katherine would just come over to my studio and sit there once every week or two and sit there and look at whatever cues I had done.
"With Deborah, I would e-mail her the music and she would sync it up with the image and look at it remotely."
Still, there were other differences as well.
"When you’re working on a feature, you have to delve into a timeline to make sure your music is making sense over an hour and half and the movie doesn’t come across as disheveled," Hope explained. "Working on a short, you don’t have time to make any statements and are more interested in working with what’s in front of you. In a way, it can be a little more creative because you just don’t have time to worry about the next time you will have to use a theme. You just dive in and score it up."
Hope, who has attended the Sundance Film Festival, said he is grateful he has a chance to attend a film festival where musicians will be recognized.
"I go to festivals to support movies with people I work with do," he said. "The writers, actors, producers and directors all get awards and none of the rest of us do, so to speak. I enjoy going, but I don’t know how it feels to have somebody pay attention to my music and I’m curious to see what that feels like, so that’s why I’m going to Park City.
"Sometimes film scoring is an overlooked art form," he said. "They don’t see the significance of the music in the movie, and I tell them it will be really different if you let me put one or two live instruments in it."
The ninth annual Park City Film Music Festival will run from Friday, May 25, through Sunday, June 3, and will present screenings of independent films at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., and the Prospector Theatre, 2175 Sidewinder Dr. For more information and the schedule, visit http://www.pcfmf.com/MainPage.html .