I recently had the opportunity to speak with composer Enis Rothoff about his work on Sarah’s Love, a moving film about a girl who, with the help of her grandmother, opens a bakery that her mother has always wanted to open. Rothoff’s compositional achievements: Guns of Akimbo with Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving, Sunny Night with Gillian Anderson, Jenny Slate and Zach Galifianakis, and the film Wetlands, nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Rothoff began his musical career under the direction of Academy Award winner Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (Neverland). Rothoff’s album for Love Sarah will be available from the 22nd. January 2021 will be available.

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First, can you tell me how you became a film composer?

When I was ten years old, I was fascinated by film music. I memorized the melodies of the movie scores so that I could later play them on the piano. It was an early love of film music in a very playful way. At some point I started improvising on the piano and wrote my feelings into little piano pieces, which became my first compositions.

As a teenager I was so fascinated by film music that I tried to learn as much as I could about films and their scores. The Young Composers Scholarship allowed me to study the works of classical and film composers during my high school years. After high school I studied film at the University of Babelsberg and audiovisual communication at the Berlin University of the Arts. What really enriched my journey was the help of Oscar-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. With all these experiences, I felt ready to start this adventure of composing for films and appreciate its beauty.

How did you come to Love Sarah and what do you think of the premise of the film? In fact, the movie caught me off guard, I misread it at first, and when I realized what it was about, I was very surprised.

Director Elise Schroeder and I met ten years ago to work on a short film together. Due to scheduling conflicts, our collaboration did not materialize at that time. I was surprised to hear from her so many years later, and she asked me if I would be interested in shooting her first film, Sarah’s Love.

The first thing she gave me was a small trailer of the film with first impressions of some scenes. When I saw the delicious desserts in the film, the beautiful dance scenes, the deep emotions and the exciting energy, I was immediately drawn to the film.

The story is about a girl who wants to fulfill her late mother’s dream of opening a bakery in Notting Hill, London, with the help of her grandmother and her mother’s best friend.

The film has elements of drama, comedy, romance and a sense of presence in the scenes that I found refreshing and positive.

How was the collaboration with director Elise Schroeder? Was it mostly a discussion before the recording began, or was it a collaboration from start to finish?

Our collaboration was very close and at the same time I had a lot of freedom to experiment and find my own ideas.

The film is shot in such a way that each scene moves towards something. Even in its moments of emptiness, the film moves forward. That’s what inspired me.

In our conversations, Elisa gave me a lot of emotional cues for the film, but she didn’t tell me how to do it with music. After presenting my musical ideas related to the scenes in the film, we discussed in detail what to build and what to show. Elisa is an extraordinary director to work with.

How did you approach making a film like Love for Sarah? Did you start with a general theme or a musical concept? Anyway, where did the bill start and how has it evolved over time?

The opening sequence connects all of our main characters, so the complexity of the beginning was great. We spent a lot of time tweaking and refining this sequence. Normally, the opening titles (Album Track: Meet Sarah) were not my first approach to the film, but we took the opportunity to create themes for all the stories and characters and incorporate them into the opening titles.

In a way, the first music you hear in the film is like an opening, representing the many emotional layers of the film. All the themes are connected to each other and to Sarah, whose disappearance is the reason for gathering all these characters together. So there is an idea of hope built into the concept.

It’s interesting to note that I thought they might have raised the score towards the end of the film. In the case of Love Sarah, the music is very energetic in the beginning and gets louder as the film progresses. But the goal itself is a reflection, a healing, and leaves a lot of room. I like this because for me, in moments of quiet, clarity and healing can happen.

How was the decision made to make the music so eccentric? It seems so much fun in so many places, which I didn’t expect in a movie that starts out that way. What was the thought process behind all this? (I really like fantasy, it’s really fun to listen to music).

I’m glad this happened. Elise said early on that the film should be hopeful. I really enjoyed it and I could see it in the actors’ performances. There was a fine line between deeply felt emotions and a sense of life-affirming positivity.

Because the film also talks about the magic of baking and the adventure of opening a bakery, it was an emotional journey that was both fun and musically inspiring. This is the message of the film, to stay positive in the face of events and painful experiences.

For this scene, where the music was composed for this dancing character (and not the other way around), how did it work? It’s very rare for film music to be written like this, was it decided from the start? Or was it tried in a different way (no choreographed dance to music) and it just didn’t work?

It was one of the gifts from the movie. No music could be heard on the stage from the dancing figure. It was a free dance show. Beautifully directed by actress Shannon Tarbet. This scene represented a moment of reflection, self-expression, healing and a sense of responsibility for one’s own destiny. Something very positive.

We decided that I would compose music for their performances, which was really inspiring. I found myself studying and conducting every movement of his dance. Sometimes I followed the movement of the body, sometimes the flow, sometimes the general energy of that movement. I found myself making choreographies to choreographies, where the music and the dancer sometimes meet exactly and sometimes distract from each other. For me as a composer it was a wonderful experience that I hope to use in the future.

What challenges did the film face in the midst of the global pandemic? Did that negatively impact the process or were you able to get around it well enough?

Fortunately, the film was finished before the pandemic. However, the publication has been delayed due to the pandemic.

Do you have a favorite part of the bill?

My favorite parts are the dance sequence (album track: final dance), the moment when the bakery opens (album track: opening the bakery), and the moment when Mimi has an idea to make real desserts. (Album title: A Home Away from Home)

What do you hope listeners get out of Love Sara’s music?

I want the music to give them a sense of hope. And that there is beauty in moments of sorrow as well as in moments of hope. That’s how I feel about the film and its music. To make all the feelings and experiences in the film enjoyable. And maybe that’s something we can take with us into our lives.

And one more thing: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your work on this film! The music is great!

Thank you. It was a pleasure and I thank you for this enjoyable interview.

I hope you enjoyed my interview with composer Enis Rothoff about his work on Sarah’s Love. Reminder: The OST for Sarah’s Love is coming tomorrow, the 22nd. January 2021, published.

See also :

Interview with the composer

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