In a conversation with Emily Anderson, an award winning documentary director, the focus was on her latest project, Quartet for the End of Time, composed by Olivier Messiaen. This film was produced by Music for Montauk and will make its World Premiere on Friday, January 15. Anderson, an avid surfer that lives off of the Shepherd’s Neck section of Montauk, explained how she saw her vision of Quartet for the End of Time become a wonderful film – with a sensational soundtrack. She credits the genius of Miloš Repický, Music for Montauk’s Board of Directors Vice President and member of the Artistic Planning & Development team.
Anderson recalled how she first became involved with filmmaking. “I am from England and moved to America to be an artist,” she noted. “One thing led to another and I received an opportunity to direct a documentary and my career sort of snowballed from there.”
About the Music for Montauk project, she said, “I have lived in Montauk for 15 years and I do live here all year-round, so I started making films that were kind of about Montauk. Documentaries, narrative films, anything really – I just loved filming Montauk regularly. For example, this morning I was up at 5:00 a.m. to film the sunlight over the Lighthouse. I just can’t stop filming Montauk, the sunrises, the colors, the ocean, it’s all incredible.” When asked did she know Repický prior to filming, Anderson explained, “No, not at all, but as soon as they came to me, I said yes immediately – because it was my two basic things: helping people tell their Montauk story and putting Montauk as one of the characters in the kind of films [I do]. Miloš is the kind of individual that when he first speaks to you, he kind of blows your mind. As soon as I met him, I said, yeah, I’m in. I didn’t come up through classical music, the classical music part of it was the reason I first kind of got excited and involved. Obviously, having spent the last six months with Miloš and speaking about classical music, I am a convert. I am now obsessed with it.”
The piece was composed in 1940 while Messiaen was in a WWII prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany. On January 15th, 1941, he, along with three other musicians, gave Quartet for the End of Time its premiere at Stalag VIII-A prison camp in front of an audience of prisoners, German officers, and prison guards. When asked to comment on how the power of this story influenced her, Anderson said, “It was at the beginning of WWII that Olivier Messiaen began writing the music, while in a prisoner-of-war camp. For me, the story is that there are so many stories – the tie between Camp Hero and the fact that the piece originates in a prisoner-of war-camp and I instantly saw the connection. But the more I spoke to Miloš about the pieces [movements], the religious aspects, other aspects started bubbling up to the top. The light versus the dark, the good versus bad.”
About shooting the film? Although much of it was filmed during a cold October 2020 weekend, Anderson added, “The truth is, when you see it, the Montauk footage in it I have been collecting for over a year. The piece [the film story] is very dark, it’s not about Montauk summer, it’s about the fall, the winter. So I went to my achieves to kind of pull out that Montauk I have always been filming.”
When discussing what pleasantly surprised her about the process, Anderson relayed, “It always surprises me how much in love I am with helping people tell their stories. Here we are in the middle of COVID, these musicians haven’t played together for eight months. They are going through all these kind of emotions about playing with people in a different place, and on top of that, we filmed them during Montauk’s worst winds at the end of October at the cliffs [of Camp Hero] at sunrise. There was so much creativity and passion and energy and emotion that I was surprised by how much was there.”
The biggest challenge she faced was weather related. “Getting the musicians to play without their coats on at sunrise on a freezing, windy Sunday morning on those cliffs,” she revealed.
Anderson did all the editing. “I am not the audio guy, but I am the editor of the film,” she shared. “We shot for two and a half days and then I had hours and hours worth of Montauk footage. We had a lot of footage, but it was tied to specific moments in the music.”
Montauk for Music’s Quartet for the End of Time will make its online debut on Friday, January 15. The event will begin at 7:45 p.m. with a Live Zoom Intro, followed by the screening, and then a Q&A with Musicians and Director. There is no fee to view the film.
For more information, visit www.musicformontauk.org.