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5th July 2012
Map of the human heart
Title of film: Hilary Hahn and Hauschka - Draw a Map
Director: Eric Epstein
We quiz Eric Epstein on his surreally beautiful take of Hilary Hahn & Hauschka's track Silfra

We’re great fans of Hilary Hahn and Hauschka, (see our earlier post with Hayley Morris), how did your collaboration come about and evolve with the musicians?

Fortunately, Hauschka had seen some of my work and later emailed about possibly collaborating. We started talking in December and things gradually came together. As soon as I actually heard Silfra, I felt quite determined to make something.

I think the only suggestion or restriction the artists gave me for the video was that they not be in it. Their idea was to get three makers to go off and make very distinctive videos (the first being Hayley’s). We were also given the unusual freedom to pick the album track we wanted to work with. Since the tracks differ wildly in length/mood/rhythm, really drastically different ideas could have been made.

In the track I chose, I was drawn to the strong percussiveness of it. There was a lot of overt structure to order the visuals around. So I wanted to have some animated element moving to the sound, and had a technique I’d been meaning to try for years. But it also needed some context for this pulsating wire-form, so that it had more interest than just pure graphics. The title ‘Draw a Map’ evoked academia and research. The process of thinking about music video, deriving visual associations from sound, is somewhat reflected in the video’s made-up research.

Looking at your earlier work, in particular Memory Tapes, you seem a dab hand at vfx – did you train in post and when did you start creating your own narratives?

My formal education was in filmmaking, though I’d been interested in VFX my whole life pretty much. Years of dabbling and tutorials were enough to get me in simple After Effects jobs. Practice through work and learning from other artists has really propelled my skills over time. I’d neglected filmmaking for a long time after school, focusing on freelancing and getting by. But the past few years it started to feel more important that I set aside time to try my own projects. I think one by one they have been getting more ambitious in narrative (starting from ‘not really narrative at all’), but I certainly have a way to go yet.

Where did you shoot Draw a Map. And what were the main challenges of the production?

It was shot mostly on a train heading up the Hudson River just north of NYC, and in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The main challenge was just trying to nail down logistics against my less practical impulses. I’m not really a producer, but the small budget sort of put me in that role. It was a good leaning experience, but much time was lost to tangents that did not pay off.

In some alternate universe this thing was shot in California two months earlier (with the northeast trees still bare) with slick machine-fabricated headgear (as opposed to a mass of wire and tape) and additional scenes. But it worked out well I think, and it was nice to involve friends in the shooting.

What are you up to now?

There are a few music video prospects up in the air presently. Never can tell what the future holds though.

And where are you based? Signed to a production company?

I’m based in Brooklyn. I am signed to Nice and Polite in the UK, and that’s all so far.


 Hilary Hahn and Hauschka, Draw a Map

Directed by: Eric Epstein
Featuring: Jordan Bruner (also a director/animator jordanbruner.net)
with: Nadia Husain, Kevin Lawler, Edward Tasick, Ayli Velorok, Desmond Williams, Nancy Diana Wong
Associate producer: Desmond Williams
‘the box’ made by: Andi Burnett andiburnett.com
Co-editor: Robert Lopuski forgottensundays.com