Song One | Director Kate Barker-Froyland
Attention, our audience’s and our own — it’s a valued commodity these days. We struggle to command our audience’s attention, for them to discover our work and then, once they’ve discovered it, to actually focus on it. Meanwhile, we struggle to focus our own attention, to fight our society’s weapons of mass distraction so we can not just see our work to completion but fully discover the meanings within it. What role does attention play in your work? Can you discuss an instance where you thought about some aspect of attention when it came to your film?
The idea of attention in our society is something I wanted to explore in this film from the beginning, specifically its relationship to the characters of James (Johnny Flynn) and Henry (Ben Rosenfield). Both of them are musicians at very different stages of their careers. James is about 10 years older and is Henry’s music idol. James is a pretty shy person who wrote songs that meant something to him. He’s gotten a lot of attention for this album he wrote- songs that he never really expected to become the success that they have.
I don’t think he ever wanted that kind of attention — it’s just something that happened to him. Henry on the other hand is this pure kind of artist, just starting out. He’s a bit like James ten years ago. He’s just starting to discover and experience life and has the freedom of being unknown and busking in the subway- of just playing music and writing. He doesn’t have the same kind of pressure that James has on him. James is maybe the kind of artist that Henry could become.
When I wrote these characters, I wanted to explore their different paths to becoming an artist, and I thought a lot about how the attention James has gotten from his album really shapes him as a character, yet leaves him more alone and lost than when he started out. I think the kind of attention that James gets and tries to get away from leads him to pursue this connection with Henry’s sister, Franny (Anne Hathaway). Attention also plays a big role in Franny’s relationship with Henry — she never gave Henry the attention he craves for his music, which leads her to do what she does in the film.
I feel like with writing you need to devote a lot of attention to it. It’s easy to get distracted! When I write, I like to turn off wifi and my phone and focus on only writing for those hours. I like to write as much as I can about each character and explore their pasts as deeply as possible.
[PREMIERE SCREENING: January 20 at 3:30 pm – Eccles Theatre, Park City ]