Chiara Viale’s feature debut, The New Music, produced in association with Young Parkinson’s Ireland, screens at the IFI on Wednesday, 29th January 2020 at 18.30, followed by a Q&A with Chiara and Gary Boyle of Young Parkinson’s Ireland.
Adrian (Cilléin McEvoy) is a talented pianist with a promising career ahead of him. Playing music is the only thing he lives for until his world falls apart when he is diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Afraid of the implications of the illness and of failing the expectations of his family, Adrian runs away from home, destination Dublin. He finds a room in a shared apartment with punk band members Will (Jack Fenton), David (Patrick O’Brien) and Jodie (Martina Babisova), known collectively as The Cellmates. Adrian gradually bonds with them as their rebellious lifestyle and punchy music provides lively distraction from his troubles.
Gemma Creagh talked to Chiara about her musical drama revolving around the life of a pianist with Young Onset Parkinson’s and the punk band that changes his life.
Can you tell me how you got involved in the world of film? What’s your background/interests?
Since I was a child I always wrote stories and I’ve been fascinated by cinema. I didn’t have a TV growing up, so going out to watch films on the big screen was a huge deal for me and my siblings. I believe that my love for cinema as an art form comes from that excitement, that respect and the magical feeling of the lights going off before the start of a film.
Although writing has been a part of me since I can remember, I didn’t make a clear connection between the ‘moving images’ in my head and filmmaking until my twenties, when I started experimenting with screenwriting. In 2015, I moved to Ireland and I joined the Dublin Filmmakers Collective, a group who organises filmmaking challenges and encourages everyone from first-time actors/crew to professionals to create short films. In this context, I developed the confidence to move forward with the language of screenwriting and I directed my first short films.
Beside cinema, my main interests are literature and music. I graduated in English as a Foreign Language and Literature with a thesis on Oscar Wilde and music is a vital part of my creative process.
Where did you get your inspiration from for The New Music?
I wanted to tell the story of someone who’s life is turned upside down by external events and they’re now forced to face this change and re-define themselves. This is something that happens all the time around us and I wanted to explore the process of finding ourselves again, which doesn’t mean going back to who we were, because that’s impossible, but rather discover and learn to love who we have become. As I mentioned previously, music is very important to me and I always wanted to make a film about musicians, so the skeleton of the story was formed around a pianist who develops a condition which affects his ability to play his instrument. It was then, through my research, that I came across Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. I didn’t know this condition existed and I was surprised and upset that so little is known about it, so I decided to use this film as a way to raise awareness around this condition.
What was the writing process like?
I wrote The New Music very quickly and it was initially meant to be a 20-page short film which I then developed into a feature. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the work I put into writing the script and I listened to a lot of punk music for inspiration, especially Fugazi and contemporary punk rock bands like The Smith Street Band, The Flatliners and Captain, We’re Sinking. The relationship with Young Parkinson’s Ireland was also crucial to this process, as they read the script and gave me their input on the portrayal of Young Onset Parkinson’s in the story.
How did you find the talent?
One of my favourite things about The New Music is how everyone involved always worked as a group of friends and the great chemistry between us. Myself and the Co-Producer/ DOP Philip Kidd had met at Kino Dublin the previous year and we knew Cilléin Mc Evoy, Patrick O’Brien and Martina Babisova from previous projects. We did casting for the role of Will (interpreted by Jack Fenton), Adrian’s Mother (Paula McGlinchey), Young Adrian (Devlin O’Brien) and other minor roles, but the whole process has been smooth and we immediately clicked with each other. Filming has been a really fun and enjoyable experience.
How long did each stage of the process take?
We worked on pre-production from April to June 2017 and then we filmed through the Summer. Principal photography was finished at the end of September 2017. Post-production lasted until August 2019, including pick-ups and filming the necessary b-roll for the film. The New Music premiered at IndieCork in October last year.
What has the response been at screenings?
IndieCork has been a fantastic experience and the film was very well received by public and critics alike. People laughed a lot throughout the film, which has been the most rewarding thing for me. The New Music is about Young Onset Parkinson’s, which is a tragedy in the life of the people who get diagnosed, their families and their friends. To be able to approach an issue such as this and still feel that the audience had a good time and left the cinema feeling uplifted and with a positive feeling about life is all I wanted to achieve with this film.
You can follow The New Music on
Chiara Viale is an Italian-born writer, director and producer based in Ireland. After obtaining a degree in English as Foreign Language and Literature in Milan, she went on studying screenwriting in Dublin and began making independent films. Since then she has written, directed and taken part in numerous short films such as Be Frank (2017), Clear The Air (2018) and Clown (2019). She is also co-founder of the Dublin based production company Built To Fail Productions.