“Making a film based on the life of a real person becomes a huge responsibility”
– The German filmmaker talks about the film’s adaptation process and his work with actress Saoirse Ronan
(© Sundance Institute/Philip Leutert)
As women, we are not perfect, just as we are imperfect as humans. But the defense for our imperfections is the empathy we have for other people and ourselves. move on ,,See also:
Interview: Nora Fingscheidt
film profile,director Nora Fingscheidtand adapted from amy liptrotThe memoir of the same name tells this. We Follow Rona, played by Saoirse Ronan, at the age of 30 at a time when she was recovering from her troubled past on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. We had the opportunity to speak to the director about his latest feature as well as his collaboration with Ronan, who serves as both an actor and producer for the first time. The picture screened in the premiere strand at the Sundance Film Festival.
Cinema Fame: Can you talk about the adaptation process and working with Amy (Liptrot) and Saoirse (Ronan)?
Nora Fingscheidt: We collaborated really closely throughout the entire process from beginning to end. After reading the book I told him my vision for the film, as it is quite difficult to adapt a book; It’s very internal. This is the equivalent of journal writing. It has the quality of remembering whatever happened while staying inside his mind. You are also inside her mind, observing, processing, and reconnecting with the place she once wanted to escape from. Now she comes back and gets treatment there. I thought we needed to add a layer to the narrative called the “nerd” layer – a layer that represents Amy’s inner life, which is so rich and full of wonderful connections and poetry.
I really like this approach, and I asked if we could find a new name for the character to create a healthy distance for each of us, for different reasons. We had a Zoom call before starting any customization process, and Amy suggested the name Rona, which is a Scottish island. Saoirse and I answered this because Rona is also related to Ronan, meaning “little seal”, and seals play quite an important role in the film. And then it’s kind of an anagram of “Nora.”
So thanks to Amy we got the name, and then we went into a very solitary process with the book for several weeks. I read the book, and I color-coded different aspects: her childhood, adolescence, London, sound levels, sound observations, nature observations, Orkney folklore. When I finished, I went over it again and I color-coded. I wrote down moments that I thought should be in the film. So I had different piles, cards and colors. I then spent a few days arranging them in an order that I thought could make a film. Based on that, I wrote a treatment, and I sent it to Amy and Saoirse. And then we started working on it together. I did the writing, but they were reading and sending feedback.
Amy and I spent hours on Zoom because back then, we had to fictionalize things, dramatize things, and leave things out. I wanted Amy to be a part of it as much as possible. Making a film on the life of a real person becomes a huge responsibility.
Can you talk about the sound in the film? I read that you were trying to bring an acoustic feel to the film. I would love to hear more about this process and your experience working with composers John Gurtler and Jan Misere.
John and Jan were also the sound team and our musicians. We all went to film school together. We have collaborated on many different projects for many years. And apart from trusting each other, the biggest benefit is that we all understand the importance of a great sound and musical concept. So we usually start from the beginning: As I write a script and they read the first version, we zoom in and work together on a sound concept. This is because the film is visual and sound: it is 50/50. If you want to create an immersive audio experience, there’s no other way. And so, we were inspired by the sounds of nature and collided them with the sounds of the city. We wanted to merge them from time to time and change them according to Rona’s internal state. So when it’s really dirty, the sound is really dirty. It’s almost as if the sound gets broken or distorted. When you are drunk you see reality very differently as a result of your perception. Your brain mixes everything up, so communication gets confused. When you’re on a reef and you hear orcas, the sounds of nature are very powerful. Storms are very widespread. Natural sounds are also used in music. We worked a lot with ancient Orkney instruments and mixed it all together. So, our music and sound design got married together.
What do you hope people see in your film?
I hope they are as inspired by Amy’s journey as I am. It’s a journey and it’s hard to watch. It’s brutal, and she’s been to some terrible places. She went to extremes not only because of her addiction, but also because of the extreme conditions she grew up with. Her father’s bipolar episodes shaped her growing up, as did her experiences with her mother’s extreme religiosity. He took all that and turned it into something creative. And now she’s doing art, she has a family and she’s living her life, and I find her story amazing and inspiring. I hope people take away hope and encouragement from it, but I also hope they have more empathy for people who are recovering, because recovery is a difficult process. This goes on day after day for years. Sometimes it’s easier to point your finger and say, “Yeah, you’ve calmed down now. Get a life, move on; You’ve got this.” But it’s not that easy and I hope this film creates awareness.
Read the full interview here.
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