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Meet the 2014 Sundance Filmmakers #29: Kate Barker-Froyland Shows Us the Power of Music with 'Song One'

By Indiewire | Indiewire January 16, 2014 at 11:09AM

With her first feature film, writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland introduces to us the more intimate side of the music world, where relationships are born and people's understanding of one another suddenly become much clearer, and seem much more beautiful.
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Kate Barker-Froyland
Kate Barker-Froyland

With her first feature film, writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland introduces to us the more intimate side of the music world, where relationships are born and people's understanding of one another suddenly become much clearer, and seem much more beautiful.

What It's About: A young woman develops a relationship with her comatose brother's favorite musician as they explore the Brooklyn music scene together.

So What It's Really About: It's really about connection, particularly through music, and about the meaning of music for different people. Music has the power to connect us and change the way we see the world in ways that we can't always predict. The movie is also about the struggle to become an artist and getting to know someone just by listening to their music, especially what that means for us in today's world.

Tell us briefly about yourself. What's your background? I grew up watching a lot of independent and European films and meeting great filmmakers thanks to my dad, who happens to distribute American independent and foreign films.  In college, I studied philosophy and literature and then worked on features like "The Devil Wears Prada" (as the director’s assistant) and Merchant-Ivory's The White Countess. I lived in Paris for several years and wrote and directed some short films in graduate school at Columbia. I started developing the script for "Song One" about five years ago. I live in Brooklyn, where much of the film takes place, and I think my personal connection to music-- other than listening to it and going to shows-- comes most strongly from dance. I did ballet and modern dance from a young age. I think dance makes you listen to music in a different way.

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film? The biggest challenge was that we had so many locations and not a lot of time to shoot. We also had so many exterior nighttime scenes and shots in the summertime-- so the nights were short. We shot mostly in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, but there were several scenes in the script set in Morocco. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to shoot in Morocco, but I was so happy when we eventually were able to go to Rabat with a very small crew. Once we got there, I even had the opportunity to direct the Moroccan cast in French.

What cameras did you shoot on? We shot mostly on the Alexa and some footage on the C300 and GoPro.

What do you want your Sundance audience to take away from your film? I hope that they will take away that feeling of having been fully immersed in a powerful music experience and will leave really knowing and understanding the lives of these characters for a short time.

Have any films inspired you? The films of Wong Kar-Wai, Susanne Bier, and Jacques Audiard are very inspiring. "Don’t Look Back" by D.A. Pennebaker is a film I discovered while I was prepping for "Song One," and I love it. And Truffaut's film, "Small Change", made a huge impression on me when I was very little and I've loved his films ever since.

Did you crowdfund? If so, via what platform. If not, why? There was never any intention for this film to be crowd-funded. It was financed in the same way that so many independent films have been financed, and we had the good fortune of several strong producers and backers being supportive of this project from the very beginning. These producers and backers have been responsible for so many wonderful independent films, and I feel really fortunate for my film to be in their company.

What's next for you? I have other ideas for films and TV which I've started to write. But I'd also like to direct more, including commercials, TV and film projects written by other people.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2014 festival. For profiles, click HERE.

This article is related to: Meet the 2014 Sundance Filmmakers, Sundance Film Festival, Song One






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