Interview with Filmmaker Stéphane Orlando (NIGHT FALLS)

NIGHT FALLS, 19min., Belgium, Music
Directed by Stéphane Orlando
Veronika Harcsa is accompanied by the Cave Cantores to embody the inner struggle of a singer living between two worlds, the classical of her illustrious cellist father and the jazz where she sees a possible key to more artistic freedom. Four lines from William Blake’s poem « Night » guide the narrative through different pieces of a puzzle of real and invented memories. This jumble of past, present and future crystallises into a powerful musical bad trip with catastrophic consequences.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’m a huge fan of directors like Pawel Pawlikovski, David Lynch, Federico Fellini, Quentin Tarantino or Akira Kurosawa. It’s a cinema where image, sound, acting and movie sets serve the narrative in a complementary way, with always a strong concept that is the engine of the whole. I wanted to work in that direction. As I’m the composer of my own films, it’s easier: I’m always in perfect agreement with myself 🙂

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

About two years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

A jumble of past, present and future crystallises into a powerful musical bad trip, experienced by a young classical singer with a passion for jazz.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Matching the images of the concert and the film to find a form that serves the narrative.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was very moved by the comments. It was very nice for me to feel understood artistically. Thanks to all the participants for their kind words.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

It was a childhood dream, but I have concentrated all my life on music, piano, improvisation and especially composition, for stage and film.
In 2001, I became a pianist at the Royal Film Archive of Brussels, where I played live on more than 500 silent films.
This allowed me to gain experience in analysing films, to understand the intentions of the directors and to try to translate them to the piano.
From this experience I have created contemporary film, dance, stage and opera music.
But when the covid lockdown froze everything, I had to find a new way to create.
So I imagined directing musicians singing and playing my music in front of a camera (rather than an audience) and built a narrative to make this possible, with the musicians’ possibilities.
When I showed the script of our first film, The Smile to producer Jean-Marie Marchal of Cav&ma he put me in touch with some of his best singers and the magic happened.
I worked hard with a fantastic team (Thomas Purcaro Decaro for the images, Pierre Bartholomé for the music recording, Joachim Vezsely for the editing, and David Block for the color grading) to make this first film and then we wanted to continue on a new production.
So I asked Veronika Harcsa to join the singer team of Cave Cantores, to be the main protagonist of the film and to write some lyrics for my music. From there I built the story of Night Falls with my son Hugo.
I chose Veronika because we had participated in the same production with the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles (of which I was the composer) for the Ars Musica festival in Brussels.
I thought she was extraordinary. She has not only a beautiful voice, but also a beautiful gesture when she sings and a wonderful imagination when she improvises.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Maybe, putting us in contact with producers specialised in our kind of art ? For me, experimental films, with a huge importance for music.
Or helping us to broadcast our films and have incomes with that. So we can continue making new films !
Offering us a lifetime subscription to Wild Sound TV ?

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

This was very new for me and I was pleased to discover the Festival. What a great idea ! In line with the present times.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Orecchiette alle cime di rapa = Orecchiette pasta with turnip tops

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working from my opera Antigone in the dark. I’m making a film about it, between making of, documentary and fiction. The goal is to search inside the artist being, the figure of Antigone.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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