Příliš hlučná samota: Production crew raises funds for film about Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s novel “Too Loud A Solitude”

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“My education has been so unwitting I can’t quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that’s how I’ve stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. Because when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” – Bohumil Hrabal

An imaginative production crew seeks to fundraise resources to launch a full-length feature film about Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s novel, Too Loud a Solitude.  Directed by Genevieve Anderson and starring Paul Giamatti as the voice of Hanta, Too Loud A Solitude (Příliš hlučná samota) is a feature adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal’s beloved book made with live action puppets, animated sequences and visual effects.

This globally famous novel is about a book crusher, Hanta. Watching the trailer of Too Loud A Solitude is like entering a magic portal to another dimension where Bohumil Hrabal’s book takes place in a world of puppetry.  An intimate, sneak peek to Hanta’s daily life and his private love affair with the books and their stories. A mirror reflection of Hrabal’s writing voice and how each book he created almost seems to be a personal letter written to each individual reader as opposed to the masses. As the camera soars in over the skyline of the town and we see gears grinding, scraps of papers tossed about and a city that seems to be very cold and quiet. Characters bundled up in many layers, speaking to each other without speaking as they go about daily life. The music is hypnotic and dreamy with its romantic yet haunting tune of a melancholy violin. 

Too Loud a Solitude is the story of a waste compactor, Hanta, who was charged with destroying his country’s great literature in his humble press, and who fell so in love with the beautiful ideas contained within the books that he began secretly rescuing them – hiding them whole inside the bales, taking them home in his briefcase, and lining the walls of his basement with them. It became one of the defining books in Czechoslovakia’s history for its unsentimental, humorous, painfully relevant portrayal of humankind’s resilience. The story of Hanta’s quest to save the world of books and literature from destruction is often cited as the most beloved of Hrabal’s books. Too Loud a Solitude has a global fan base and an active community of support has emerged for our feature film project. The book has been translated into 37 languages and sold over 70,000 copies of Michael Henry Heim’s English translation alone. Bohumil Hrabal wrote the novella as an unsentimental account of what happened to him during the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia during the 40’s and 50’s. Many of Hrabal’s books were banned by the Russian regime and other great books by many authors were physically destroyed, an act Hrabal characterizes in Too Loud a Solitude as ‘crimes against humanity’… Our team has been committed to bringing Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s beloved novella Too Loud a Solitude to the screen since 2004. With the assistance of The Rockefeller Media Arts Foundation (now the Tribeca Film Institute), Heather Henson and Handmade Puppet Dreams, and The Jim Henson Foundation, we completed a 17 minute sample of the film in 2007. The film has been playing nationally and internationally in the Handmade Puppet Dreams program, and in 2009 was awarded an UNIMA-USA citation of excellence. We are currently working on financing the feature project, first through a Kickstarter start-up funds campaign and then through partnership with other financing and production entities. Our intention is to enlist the support of the book’s global fan base and expand its already impressive audience. We’re down to two weeks left in our Kickstarter fundraising campaign and are continuing to do outreach work to drum up more support for our project. We seek to raise $35,000 to cover the costs of puppet design, armature creation, motion exploration, character development, costume design, and visual effects.”

For more information about the film, please visit www.tooloudasolitude.com.screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-16-58-pm “For thirty-five years now I’ve been in wastepaper, and it’s my love story…I am a jug filled with water both magic and plain; I have only to lean over and a stream of beautiful thoughts flows out of me.”screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-16-25-pm

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“I felt beautiful and holy for having the courage to hold on to my sanity after all I’d seen and had been through, body and soul, in too loud a solitude.”

Roc Chen: Music Composer and Asian Creative brings cultures together around the world with the magical power of music

Roc Chen

Roc Chen. Photography provided by CW3PR.

Roc Chen is a Sichuan-born, award-winning composer who has created music for film and gaming. Recognized within the U.S. and China, Chen’s music has the power and the beauty to bring cultures together from around the world, which is no easy task. His film roster includes “Chinese Zodiac” with Jackie Chan, “Forbidden Kiss” and the Chinese adaptation of “Everybody’s Fine” (American adaptation ft. Robert DeNiro). Roc also partnered with DreamWorks to create music for the film “Kung Fu Panda 3” and his music is present in the award-winning, internationally broadcasted documentary TV series “A Bite of China.” Chen’s video game work even dabbles into “World of Warcraft” and “God of War” orchestrasas well as the “Might and Magic” series and his latest work underway with “Prince Adventures.” Recently partnering with Danny Elfman to bring music to Disney Shanghai’s newest ride, Alice’s Maze; Roc Chen’s music brilliantly celebrates the fusion of the American storyline of Alice in Wonderland with Chinese culture native to the Shanghai location.

This summer Roc Chen was interviewed by Nicolette Mallow. The two discussed his background in music, technology, and the power of music and how it can feel like time traveling. Mallow also inquired about the challenges and rewards of merging Eastern and Western cultures for film, Disney, DreamWorks and much more. And Chen opened up about how his music can be like an invisible, magic mirror that reflects everything inside the listener’s heart. The written interview proceeded as follows.

Nicolette Mallow: Will you please tell me about your background in music? Did you always know that music composition was your life calling? When did you begin to play music and write music? As a child, what did music feel like?

Roc Chen: When I was a kid, sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night humming the melody from “The Godfather,” and I thought to myself, “Maybe I should be a film composer when I grow up!” Like many kids, I learned to play classical piano at the age of 4, but unlike many kids, I loved to keep the sustain pedal down to create a bigger reverberation (just like in film scores). And, of course, my piano teacher would always get mad at me for doing that. I’ve always known music, especially film music – it’s my life calling. However, I spent my college life in what is considered a Chinese Stanford (University of Science and Technology of China). We had a large and great orchestra band there and the conductor asked me to be the assistant conductor, so I’ve had the chance to learn from each and every different instrument – not from a book but from a real orchestra band. Later on I also obtained a Master’s Degree in Composition from the Conservatory of Music. I consider myself pretty lucky to have a background in both music and technology!

NM: Art has the power to take us places, particularly music. Music can take listeners back in time within seconds. Music can evoke feelings or fantasies within us and it’s almost like time-traveling… What do you feel are the most powerful components of music that allow us to transcend time, space and imagination?

RC: All the components of music such as melody, harmony, counterpoints are powerful enough to allow us to transcend time, space and imaginationbut personally I think the most powerful one is the abstract part within the music. Pop songs take us into a specific world because the lyrics/words are quite specific and straight-forward. But instrumental music such as film scores without any lyrics or words are abstract, so it takes people to their own and unique places, to the different secret places deep within each person’s heart. This is also the beauty of scores. Film scores, though there are specific picture/scenes synced with it, can allow us to re-create those scenes and characters in our own way when we hear music outside of the cinema. It’s like everyone is a director and everyone directing his own version of that film in his brain. This is the beauty of film scoring. And of course, there are certain skills and ways to evoke those feelings or fantasies in the way of composition.

There’s a music piece of mine, “Deep in Their Hearts,” originally composed for the most renowned documentary in China called “A Bite of China Season 2”. It has moved nearly a billion people in China and around the world. I tried to tenderly and beautifully play the piano with a melancholy and nostalgic melody. It was performed by beautiful strings, woodwinds, with some abstract inside harmony, fine orchestration and counterpoint. The result is this music cue, which has moved lots of people and has surpassed pop songs to reach the top of the Chinese billboard. Thousands of fans came to my Chinese Twitter to express their feelings hearing this music to me and it’s actually quite interesting to read those comments. Some people say it reminds them of their childhood loneliness; some say it reminds them of some moving moments in that documentary; some people say it makes them cry with happiness. Some people say the woodwinds in this cue are funny and playful. It’s all different – and I feel like my music is like a mirror – each person saw and found their secret place deep in their heart by hearing this magical mirror.

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Roc Chen. Photography provided by CW3PR.

NM: What are some of the distinct differences between Eastern and Western music styles pertaining to film?

RC: Well, this is a little bit of a huge topic that I could talk about for days and write a book about. The scale of notes and melodies are different between the eastern and western worlds. Still, as for the relationship between music and film: I think one of the most distinct differences is the eastern style is more implicit while western style is more straight-forward and passionate. As I’ve been traveling between LA and Beijing a lot, I also found this difference within people’s behavior between the two countries. I guess one of the benefits of my goal as trying to be the most international composer is I can always get to know more about people from both worlds.

NM: Would you please share with me the challenges of integrating Eastern and Western music? Is it difficult to please both audiences?

RC: Many Hollywood films with pure western music are also enjoyed by lots of eastern audiences, but most of this music hardly reaches their hearts. So sometimes with only a few elements from the East can really move the eastern audience and ironically enough it moves the western audience too! Also, each film project is different and I’m always very careful with this challenge by always listening to the director’s ideas regarding the direction of the film. I always offer my suggestions and opinions on the direction of music but I would respect my director’s opinion because it is the film – a combination of many arts. It’s a whole project we’re going to present to the audience, not just music. There’s a project I did, “Heroes of Might and Magic VII,” the 7th game of the famous “Heroes of Might and Magic” video game franchise. I write some of the cues in a pure-western style and some cues have a little bit of East and West combined flavour. It all depends on the specific occasion.

NM: What lead you to work for Disney Shanghai?

RC: I guess people loved what I did for “Kung Fu Panda 3” as a Chinese music consultant, and then I got introduced to Disney by my friends at DreamWorks. But really, I think it’s because of my specialty of knowing both East and West which lead me to work for Disney Shanghai.

NM: In regards to Asian American crossroads within the entertainment industry – how did you begin to infuse the American storyline of “Alice in Wonderland” with Chinese culture native to the Shanghai location of Disney?

RC: First of all, it’s always teamwork! It is done by Danny Elfman, myself and another beautiful lady from Disney Imagineer. We put Chinese lyrics such as the translation of “Alice Are You Lost” and other lyrics written initially by Danny into the melody and make sure it really sounds great in Chinese. A lot of times, you’ll hear directly translated songs sounding very, very weird after translation. This requires a lot of experience of the Chinese culture and customs along with musical experience of the tone, pitch and rhythm of each note and its relationship between other notes. We tried many different ways to avoid a common phenomenon in Chinese music which is called “Dao Zi,” meaning the pitch of the notes will not violate or conflict with the tone of the Chinese words. I also had my female choir friends at Beijing singing the melody in Chinese beautifully while we remote-recorded them here in Los Angeles. We also did a lot of tweaks during the recording session.

NM: Do you have a favorite genre of music that you love to write? You are talented at composing many forms of music. But do you have a favorite style?

RC: Well… It’s really hard to pick one favorite style for me as I’ve worked in a lot of different styles and genres. But my favorite one is the one that best supports the film. As long as the form of music can do a good job to support the camera and film – that’s my favorite!

NM: Your career is most impressive and I have watched many of these films. However, I must admit that I have a fondness for “Kung Fu Panda”… Was that your first time writing music for animation? What did you enjoy most about this DreamWorks project?

RC: With this film, Hans Zimmer is the music composer while I worked alongside him as the Chinese music consultant. I offered direction and guidance on the Chinese instruments, Chinese musicians, the articulations and specialty of Chinese instruments. I also consulted on how to combine the instruments with Western orchestra music to the DreamWorks music team. I enjoyed turning the song of the last scene of “Kung Fu Panda 3” into Chinese and recording 40 amazing pop choir singers from Shanghai so when the film was released. Everyone could hear the final product of “animal” singing in Chinese happily in the end scene!

NM: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to highlight?

RC: I just finished recording with an orchestra in Nashville for a new animation feature I scored, and I’m also going to score some new exciting feature films, animations and TV series but due to NDA reasons I’m sorry to say I can’t disclose them right now.

NM: Lastly, I grew up reading the book “Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan about four Chinese American immigrant families living in San Francisco. It’s a bittersweet, tragic and beautiful story that I still enjoy reading in adulthood. Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by the history of China and I hope to visit someday. And of course when the movie came out I enjoyed the soundtrack. My point in mentioning “Joy Luck Club” is because for years, I’ve always wanted to learn more about the roots of classical music in China. But I never know where to start… Is there a book you’d recommend or a certain time period to study for those who want to learn about the roots of music in China?

RC: This is a great question! But frankly, I personally think the best book of Chinese music history or Chinese musicology is not in English but in the language of Chinese. Just like if you wanted to learn the western musicology: you’ll have to read that greatest musicology book in English. When I was in the Conservatory of Music, there was a school book called “History of Chinese music” which nearly covers all different kinds of music from pre-Qin Dynasty times, to Tang Dynasty music, to Qing Dynasty and even modern music of China. It also covers the musicology of a lot of different areas of China such as the music from the north of China – which is so different from the south of China. Music from HeBei Province is also so different from the music from the ShanXi province or the ethnic Uygur group in Xin Jiang areas. I have this book in my Beijing studio and I’ve always wanted to purchase an English-translated version to keep in my Los Angeles studio. Without any luck, I Googled and searched Amazon and didn’t find this book or any book just as great. Maybe some book publisher could work with me to translate a classic book into a new one in English. For those who want to learn about the roots of music in China, most people will probably say the Tang Dynasty is the best time period to study as it is one of the most brilliant time for all kind of arts. But I would personally recommend the eras around the Qin Dynasty such as the Three-Kingdom era, Warring States period, etc. If you research it and dive deep enough, you’ll see music in those ages are clearly fundamental not only to Chinese music, but also to the music of the Eastern world.

www.rocchen.com

Aetheria, Death, Beauty and Masquerades: Three exhibits revealed at ART on 5th

nicolette mallow

“Masquerade Series – The Void” created by Chris Guarino. {Photo by Nicolette Mallow}.

June 2016—ART on 5th revealed three exhibitions by artists Brandon Snow, John Breiner and Chris Guarino. Each artist creates a unique style from the heart. However, Brandon Snow’s pieces can be recognized by his bold use of the colors black and red, butterflies, roses, matches and a balloon. The works of John Breiner are a bit more playful and extensive with bright colors, including images like an eagle, a Native American and an owl. The collection by Chris Guarino reflects a fantasy world of magic, darkness, nature and masks. All three exhibitions and all three artists displayed by the gallery are listed below in fuller details.

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  • “Life, Death, and Beauty”: The strength of Brandon Snow’s work stems from the simplicity of his imagery. Each piece is conceptualized by photographing an everyday object. These are then translated from film to canvas via a large-format silkscreen printing method which he has developed through years of experimentation. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Austin. “Brandon Snow is an Austin-based self-taught artist. Out of a desire to infuse his work with a new type of energy and excitement, Brandon began merging lo-fi film photography and silkscreen printing. When Snow discovered that he could print his photographs using large format silk screens, he immediately began the tedious process of teaching himself through trial and error. This silk screen method also allows room for unique and unplanned characteristics to develop in each piece during its creation”. Snow’s works are on display until July 7, 2016. www.brandonsnowart.com
  • “Aetheria”: John Breiner’s work revolves around the reuse of found paper, including book covers and old maps. By utilizing a unique print transfer method, Breiner combines photographs and original drawings. He finishes the image with a myriad of techniques, including acrylic, spray paint, and collage. The result is an ephemeral surface which transcends traditional print media. John Breiner is from New York, and this will be his second exhibition at ART on 5th. “John Breiner’s love of the ephemeral surface has kept him painting and illustrating for close to two decades. While the focus of his personal work revolves around the reuse of found items (specifically old paper, books and book jackets), John has also painted large-scale murals, numerous illustrations, and album covers over the years”. Briener’s works are on display until July 7, 2016. www.johnbreiner.com
  • “From The Unknown & The Masquerade Series”: Chris Guarino, the winner of our 2015 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Contest, is currently the featured artist at ART on 5th. Guarino’s sculptures and digital photography are no longer on display. For information about prints, please contact ART on 5th. “From the Unknown is a solo exhibition of work by internationally recognized sculptor and digital media artist, Chris Guarino. Chris was also the winner of our 2015 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Contest. His work has been exhibited in Chicago, Miami, and Berlin. This show will feature original cast resin sculptures as well as prints of his digital photography work.” “From the Unknown” ended on June 18, 2016. Viewers can still see artwork by Chris Guarino at the gallery, however the full exhibit is no longer up in its original form. www.chrisguarino.com

Additionally, please bear in mind that ART on 5th is encouraging a Call for Entries from artists that have yet to be featured at the gallery. “ART on 5th will once again be hosting the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. The Artisan Series is a national search to find the next big name in visual arts, and offers under represented artists a national platform to showcase their work. Artists residing within 150 miles of the city center will be considered for the Austin semi-finalist exhibition to be held at ART on 5th this October”. For more information regarding hours, location or upcoming exhibits at the gallery of ART on 5th: please visit their website at www.arton5th.com or call (512) 481-1111.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in June 2016.  

nicolette mallow

Art by Eya: Dreamscape artist and local Texan beautifies the city of Austin

Nicolette Mallow

“Tiger Lady” by Eya Floyd.

Born and raised in Austin, TexasEya Claire Floyd is an artist and local Texan whose work is found at many local artisans fairs and retail boutiques around town. Creating whimsical,  introspective and playful pieces that illuminate the room with their vibrant colors. There is something magical about Eya’s work, too. Intertwining nature, animals and people in a mystical way that could only happen in our dreamssuch as a bird with a woman’s head or a fierce tiger with giant wings like an Egyptian deity it seems as if her characters are shape shifting at times. Transforming into creatures that appear in fantasies or myths and not reality. Many of the characters within Floyd’s art pieces also seem to be floating in time and space – adding to the allure of the dreamscape theme.

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Floyd’s ability to integrate a plethora of fanciful creatures, nature and scenery into her pieces is endless, just like her imagination. Would you like dinosaurs digging in the sand? She’s got it. A monkey riding the back of a dragon? She’s got that, too. Or maybe you need a bird girl carrying a red heart in her claws. There is something for everybody’s taste.

The paintings and illustrations she designs are so beautifully simplistic and yet so intricately detailed – it leaves the eyes with an equal sense of peace and excitement. Another positive trait about her art is that it’s beloved by audiences of all ages: children and adults. A lot of her artwork is reminiscent of childhood with its light-hearted spirit, and yet other pieces are adult-oriented. The universal aesthetics withn her work evokes endearing emotions of love, humor and happiness whilst admiring Eya’s artwork.

Nicolette Mallow: Can you tell me a bit about your involvement with the Austin art scene and the local community?

Eya Floyd: My first exhibition as an adult was in the 1990’s and since then I have been creating and showcasing my art, mostly paintings. I find painting to be the most challenging and I think that’s why I like it so much. But I also like to create ceramic sculptures. Regardless, last year I assisted the group SprATX in an outdoor mural at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. The mural was then featured in a full-spread on the inside, back cover of a book, “Hope Outdoor Gallery: Lost and Found Volume I”. Recently I also became involved with Little Artist Big Artist and that has been very rewarding to me, too.

NM: Your booth displays at art fairs always showcase a ton of items to purchase far beyond paintings. What are your best-selling pieces?

EF: Yes, in addition to a mass amounts of prints and paintings in various sizes that I do sell. A lot of my art I’ve turned into various forms of merchandise: pendants for necklaces, coin purses, bags, matchboxes, magnets, postcards and temporary tattoos. My best sellers are certainly my necklaces, the temporary tattoos and the miniature prints that I’ve framed. People love miniature art.

NM: You are well known and appreciated by the locals for participating in so many artisan fairs and art shows around town. Will you be partaking in any upcoming art-related events?

EF: Yes. On August 8, 2015 I will be at the Austin Flea, hosted by The Highball adjacent to Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. And on August 16th, next month I will have a booth set-up at East Side Pop Up, a traveling art showcase that primarily supports local artists in Austin.

For more information regarding Eya Floyd’s artwork, please refer to EyaClaire on Etsy or Art by Eya on Facebook. Floyd’s artwork can be also found in various shops in Austin, Texas such as A-Town on Burnet Road, or Prima Dora on South Congress. SprATX Street Art Collective also carries her art in their east side gallery.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in July 2015.