Film Composer Enis Rotthoff has shown his passion for music in the Romantic Drama film Love Sarah.
Love Sarah is a film that takes viewers through a series of emotions as a young woman tries to fulfill her mother’s wish of opening a bakery. Through music, Enis uses unique musical language to connect viewers to the character’s emotions, successes, and hardships. The Knockturnal spoke with Enis about the film Love Sarah and its musical composition.
The Knockturnal: As Clarissa, Mimi, and Isabella all grieve the loss of Sarah how does the composition of music help them to heal throughout the movie?
Enis Rotthoff: The director Eliza Schroeder said from the start that she wanted the music to be hopeful and positive to help our characters heal from the loss of Sarah. I really loved that so we thought about how we could add a life-affirming positivity with the music while taking the emotions seriously.
The first piece of music I composed was the music for the Opening Titles of the film. We are introduced to Clarissa, Mimi, Isabella as well as Sarah for a moment before she passes away. I composed a theme for Sarah which became the basis for all other themes in the film. Clarissa, Mimi, and Isabella only meet again because of Sarah. The three women overcome their loss and the pain in a joyful and hopeful way by realizing Sarah´s original dream to open up a bakery in Notting Hill (London). All music is connected to Sarah´s theme which gives a sense of hope.
The Knockturnal: Music can shift a person’s mood, get them excited, or make them calm and relaxed. What emotions did you want the viewers to feel when creating the music for Love Sarah? In particular, did you want the viewer to recall love, grief, disappointment, and hope?
Enis Rotthoff: The film might look clear from the storyline, but the film includes a range of emotions and genres. It ranges from drama to comedy, romantic elements to the magic of baking. To find the musical balance between all these worlds and emotions was a beautiful challenge. I saw an opportunity inflowing from light-hearted scenes to deep-felt emotions.
When a sad moment follows a happy one, it becomes this emotional roller coaster that life can be. You can see in Eliza´s directing that every scene has a clear purpose while seizing the moment. I found that very inspiring. After Sarah dies in the film, our characters are at a very low point. I wanted to portray that pain in the music while keeping it an enjoyable musical experience. Every feeling has a beauty in it. I went with the feelings of the characters while keeping it positive in the face of emotional challenges.
The Knockturnal: At a young age, you showed a love for film music. You would memorize melodies of film scores and improvise on the piano as you journaled your emotions into your first composition. Music is your passion. Did you ever experience any hardship while trying to follow your passion?
Enis Rotthoff: I don´t think I experienced hardships as I consider myself lucky to have had many people who supported me over the course of this journey. There were inner and outer challenges I had to overcome which helped me grow. I am thankful to be able to create in the field I want to be in.
The Knockturnal: What advice would you give young creatives when pursuing their dreams?
Enis Rotthoff: Learn as much as you can in a broad array of fields. I always felt that besides my very specialized dream of being a film composer my interests were too broad. Today, I can say that everything I learned and am still learning and thinking about shapes the way I am and the way I create and compose. There is no wrong knowledge and whatever you want to pursue, everything you know and understand will shape how and what you create. The more creatives branch out in terms of their perspective the better the creative world will broaden and intersect with other fields. Learning is a state of mind that is not only connected to education but how you stay open to better understand the world and yourself.
The Knockturnal: The road to being an entrepreneur can sometimes mean sleepless nights, early mornings, rejection, and waiting for success. Would you say this is the same for musical composers when creating music?
Enis Rotthoff: It is similar but sleepless nights to make something better can give you tremendous energy. For me, rejection is a point of view. I focus on projects and relationships where both sides appreciate each other and you build towards something that is more than the sum of its parts. It is quite common on a project to do several versions of music for the same scene. This can be bigger adjustments or completely new compositions. I always felt that it is part of the process and I try not to be attached to a piece of music. Sometimes it is easier and sometimes it is harder, but I am thankful for every note I ever composed.
The Knockturnal: When Clarissa, Mimi, and Isabella began to doubt the success of the bakery, did you have a particular method when displaying perseverance between these ladies? What keeps you motivated when you feel as though you want to quit, personally?
Enis Rotthoff: That’s an interesting question. I went with their emotions and supported their passion and love for Sarah. Instead of making their endeavor driven, I wanted to highlight that achieving something as a team makes you feel connected.
If I feel like quitting, I first notice how long I have been working and how little I have slept. Then I take a break, drink a really good coffee, meditate or go out to meet a friend. It’s important for me to step away from the composition to gain perspective. The best ideas often come to me in the most unexpected moments like when I wash the dishes.
The Knockturnal: What are some valuable lessons you learned under Jan A.P. Kaczmarek?
Enis Rotthoff: Working and studying with Jan was a wonderful experience. To be part of every step of the process, from creating to recording a score, has been a great opportunity. The valuable aspects that still resonate with me are the personal experiences. I learned that it’s important to create your point of view as an artist in this world to find your own voice. It was a blessing to experience someone with similar sensibilities although we are from different generations. My early experiences with Jan let me continue to look for a sense of community with fellow composers, filmmakers, and artists. It can be a lonely road as an artist, but it does not have to be.