Forget Eponine, this is Anne Hathaway's boldest move yet. Anne's latest project Song One is a film told through music, romancing the audience over the landscape of the underground New York City music scene. It follows Franny, a young woman trying to reconnect with her comatose brother. She meets his favorite musician, James Forester, who is barley surviving off his first and only successful album. The script for [Song One](movie:404544) fell into Anne's hands by way of friend and famed filmmaker, Jonathan Demme. She had been deep into her quest for a project to lend her name to as producer, and soon knew it was not just the producer's hat she wanted to wear in the film. Song One's central, and very complex character, Franny, hit a chord. Hathaway explains:
Once we were on board as producers I would reconnect with it every week and re-read it, and then I found myself on the subway thinking about Franny and trying to think about where she was from and what music she would listen to and what she would wear, and I just thought ‘Oh no, I’m in love with this character!’ and she just got under my skin. Then I just thought this poor girl, she’s a first time director, and I’m like this actress who is now going to make her hire me. So I just said to her listen, it doesn't change my desire to produce the movie, you can say no, but i would like you to consider me as Franny.
First time director, Kate Barker-Froyland, boiled over it for a few days and called her back. She felt Anne was perfect for the part and began her rewrites with Anne's voice in mind:
Kate and I worked together on the Devil Wears Prada, she was the directors assistant, we had a friendly relationship.
As far as her role as producer, Anne says she now has a much deeper respect for filmmakers and all that goes into to making sure she can do her job as an actress:
It just makes me feel just that much more empathy for the producer of a battle scene that has to wrangle everybody, and it makes me all that more determined to never be late and to always thank everybody for everything and never take anything for granted. That was one of the big awakenings that i had as a producer in this movie. I didn't really appreciate how much work so many people had to do in order for me to do my job.
As a producer, she scouted locations, that would be as important to the film as the music. Anne's character Franny walks her brothers footsteps through the NYC music scene, a scene that is so different from how NYC is usually portrayed in film:
My sister in law saw the movie, she told me she got so excited when Franny walks down the steps of the Bowery Ballroom, she couldn't believe that we were able to film there. People have such a strong relationship with those venues, and some of them have been around for a long time and have born witness to so much music and home to so many fans.
Director Kate Barker-Froyland gave the musical reigns of the film to songwriters Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Price, who concocted a folksy 7 song soundtrack with artists like the late Nick Drake and Elliot Smith as inspiration. They said it was like writing a second script for the film. To sing the music as the film's lead musician , James Forester, newcomer Johnny Flynn was hand picked by Kate:
The movie is so much about the experience of listening to music, i really wanted to shoot all the music and performances live. I had seen a film at the NY film festival in 2011 called Goodbye First Love and there is a song at the end of the film that was so gorgeous, and i left thinking it’s so wonderful. About 6 months later we were casting James, and I thought I had to find out who wrote that song. I looked him up and he was not only a musician but a classically trained actor.
From there, the cast and crew bonded over sharing music and late nights with wine, cultivating the genuine chemistry of the film. Song One follows in the footsteps of films such as Once, capturing what feels like a moment in time told through melody. The film's music was all recorded live on camera without a studio, and also stars the great Mary Steenburgen (The Help, Last Vegas) as Franny's erratic mother. It's sure to entice the heart of any music lover.