Interview with Anton Hecht

Newcastle-based artist Anton Hecht‘s new video Bus Station Sonata has gone viral on YouTube in a matter of days. I caught up with Anton to discuss the behind-the-scenes of making the short film and, despite a slight mishap with a drunken passerby, all went to plan…

Carol Huston: What was the inspiration behind the video?

Anton Hecht: The Mel Brooks Film Blazzing Saddles, where the cowboy is riding in the desert and you hear a big orchestrial soundtrack and the camera follows him as suddenly he rides past a full orchestra playing the soundtrack supposedly live in the dessert.

CH: Why did you choose a bus station as your shooting location?

AH: I was there once, everyone looked a bit down and they were playing Wagner on the tannoy and I wondered what it would be like to have a live orchestra in the bus station. Also people are on the move, but waiting, so thought it was a good location for a project where people only need give up 5-10 mins of their time.

CH: How did you source participants for the film?

AH: A good question. Originally I thought it would be hard to convince commuters, so publicised it allot beforehand, and called on community groups etc telling them we would be there. But in the end just the commuters there were more than happy to be involved. the commuters see the piano, they hear the piano, they come over and ask what we are doing, we explained, and then they quiet happily said they have  a while and could they have a go. So secretly I have discovered that everyone wants to play a Grande piano. Though myself and a friend did try and get people to come over, and when no one was around we would get Andy the pianist to just play and encourage people.

CH: Did anything happen on set that was unanticipated?

AH: Yes, the interest of the commuters, who I thought would just ignore us. A drunk threw a pigeon at us, though he was pretty nice in the end.

CH: How many hours did you spend shooting this short film?

AH: 5 hours.

CH: How do you think this particular film differs from your previous work?

AH: Before I think the previous ones where I broke things down lacked the heart that this has. originally there was no pianist, and people were just going to play the notes alone, then that was  too hard we thought to do, so We decided that Andy would play alongside them. Originally I thought that wasn’t as good, but as the day went on, I realised that before people were a bit isolated, where as now, it was more like teacher and student, more inclusive, I wasn’t putting them up in front of a camera alone, but giving them a friend who could guide them. Also the fact the pianist is in all the shots, kind of anchors the work so the people popping around him isn’t too distracting and you kind of get an idea of the interaction they are having through the small body gestures and signals etc. I think this work has allot more heart.

CH: What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

AH: Well at the mo I have an idea about doing a crowd surfing work, called the town that lifted itself up, so if there is anyone out there who would want a crowd surfing project get in touch, and I have just finished a work I am now editing that was a bubbles dance physics project with young people and over 50s for Equal Arts, and a couple of weeks ago I did a similar piano project for a video festival in Cardiff that I am just now also editing.

CH: Thanks, Anton!

Watch Bus Station Sonata here on artplayer.

Text by Carol Huston

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