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Sundance Women Directors: Meet Kate Barker-Froyland

Interviews
by Melissa Silverstein
January 29, 2014 10:00 AM
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Anne Hathaway shooting "Song One"

Kate Barker-Froyland is the writer and director of Song One, her first feature film. Her short film "Match" screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art's New Directors/New Films program.

The music-themed drama starring Anne Hathaway debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. 

Please give us your description of the film. 

Song One is a romantic drama about a young woman studying anthropology who comes back home when her younger brother, Henry, an aspiring musician, is in an accident. While Henry is comatose, Franny tracks down his favorite musician, James Forester, who's on tour in New York. Franny and James spend time together and develop a relationship, while going to music venues where Henry went in Brooklyn.  

Much of the film takes place in Brooklyn, where I live, and we shot in many neighborhood places that I go to regularly. I wanted to record all the music live and to capture the music of the neighborhood and the city, while also capturing how music is this connective thread between people. 

What made you write this story?

I had the idea for these three characters -- Franny, James, and Henry -- who are all living their separate lives and who are brought together through music. I wanted to explore the connective power of music and the idea of this young woman who is essentially powerless in the face of her brother's accident and through this experience realizes that there's a lot she needs to repair in her life and within herself. It's her journey, but it's also very much about each of the characters being trapped in their own ways. It's really this tragedy that brings them together and allows Franny to open up -- it's because of Henry that she and James find each other.  I also really wanted to explore the idea of becoming an artist and what place that pure desire to create and express has in our celebrity-obsessed, quick success-oriented society.  

What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

The biggest challenge was the limited amount of time we had to shoot. We had a lot of different locations -- venues that Franny and James go to. Shooting in Morocco [because Franny is studying Bedouin tribes for her degree] was another big challenge -- we weren't sure if we were going to be able to shoot there at all, but in the end we were able to bring a skeleton crew. 

What advice do you have for other female directors?

The same advice I would have for any other director: work hard, stay focused, listen well. And be early.

Name your favorite women directed film and why.

After the Wedding by Susanne Bier. I love the story, the way it's shot, all of the performances. I think it's a very powerful film. 

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