Rozalind MacPhail to Live Score a Film During This Year’s SJI Women’s Film Festival

"There was no way the live-score could be a gimmick, it needed to be intrinsically woven into the fabric of the film, so that it became essential." - Ingrid Veninger
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Ingrid Veninger’s He Hated Pigeons is a film about “a young man pushed to the borders of sexuality, sanity, and to the edge of the earth, where he must step into his future” It’ll be scored, live!, by local musician Rozalind MacPhail at this year’s St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Saturday @ 12, at the LSPU Hall.

Of the film, the festival says, “Our favourite indie filmmaker has created yet another deliberately low budget feature, this time a remarkably well-measured tale of love and loss. We are never sure just how she does it but it’s clear that this drama, just like her others, reveals a gifted filmmaker with undying respect for her actors.”

Rozalind, who’ll be live scoring the film, is an ECMA nominee, and likely the only person of whom we could say “is a local flautist who has presented at the Canadian Flute Convention.” Blending her music with film is nothing new for Roz — she was a recent Artistic Resident, south of the border, at Cucalorus Film Festival. But live scoring a film? Too cool not to have a chat with her about.

Is There Anything You Find Inspiring/Fascinating about Ingrid’s Work? 

Canadian director/producer/actor/writer Ingrid Veninger is one of the most inspiring artists I have ever met. I admire her fearless drive and the high professional standard she sets for herself and her crew. She does whatever it takes to bring her creative dreams to life and she’s not afraid of hard work.

I love Ingrid’s films for the pure emotion they stir within me. Her films are beautifully crafted, honest, and intimate. I love the parts in her films when she shares intimate moments with the audience, moments that make us feel totally awkward to witness, yet we experience these moments in our everyday lives and never really talk about them. That takes guts.

When, or How Did You Two Meet?

I first met Ingrid while she was screening i am a good person / i am a bad person at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival in 2011. She was speaking on a panel about filmmaking and all I kept thinking was, “I must meet this woman!” I introduced myself to her afterwards and we’ve been admirers of each other’s work ever since.

Ingrid has motivated me a great deal over the years. She’s taught me to never let money get in the way of my creative pursuits and to never say no to the things that fill me with passion. Without Ingrid’s encouragement to apply for a three month Cucalorus Film Festival artist residency last year, I never would have performed the US premiere of Head First, and we wouldn’t be collaborating on He Hated Pigeons, and I never would have met my fiance.

How is Scoring a Film Live Different from Simply Scoring It? Is it? 

One of Ingrid’s biggest influences, American indie film director John Cassavetes, said, “I’m a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world. Because it kills the human spirit.”

Ingrid has embraced every aspect of spontaneity in the creative freedom she has given us musicians to express whatever the film inspires within us. That takes a great deal of trust and a huge amount of risk. It’s both exciting and terrifying. This will be the first time I have performed a live score to a feature film. It’s a huge honour to be a part of the SJIWFF screening.

This experience is quite different than scoring for film because there’s a lot of room for spontaneity during the screening and a lot of uncertainty in how it will sound. None of the performances are being documented, so it’s a special one-time only experience for the audience.

So, How’s All This Going to Go Down?

When Ingrid initially invited me to improvise the live score, we discussed using just the flute. With the flute being a mostly melodic instrument, I wanted a musical partner to feed off of. To help compliment the role of the flute, I have programmed a bed of electronics, which I will improvise my effected flute to, through Ableton Live.This allows me the freedom to improvise to the film while feeling supported by harmony, texture and groove.

Why Score a Film Live?

Why Score a film live at all, as opposed to an embedded soundtrack? I’ll quote Ingrid, “This project has been the most intense,” says Veninger, “not because I booked the crew’s flights to Chile before there was a script, or because I wrote the lead role for an actor whose work I had never seen … but because every step of the process had to allow for the added uncertainty of a live-score.

“The idea of different musicians, in each city, improvising their own music was a commitment that influenced and informed every choice in making this film — from writing and shooting, through editing and sound design.

“There was no way the live-score could be a gimmick, it needed to be intrinsically woven into the fabric of the film, so that it became essential. He Hated Pigeons deals with letting go. Life is uncertain. Filmmaking is uncertain. And, I want the audience to feel something which has its own intrinsic impermanence. So every public presentation will be a one-time-only event.”

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