BIG VOICE is a musical feature documentary directed by award winning filmmaker Varda Hardy and produced by Marina Viscun, Deb Love and Karen Lavender. BIG VOICE is a LiveTribe Production. With BIG VOICE, Varda maintains her commitment to create meaningful work that will both delight and inspire audiences.
This uplifting documentary explores the lives of the top-singing students of the award-winning Santa Monica High School Choir, and its visionary choir director. At a time when drastic budget cuts endanger both the quality of our public schools and their arts programs, this determined high school music teacher strives to create a thriving vocal music program that ignites in his students a passion for music, a sense of belonging, and the value of working hard to achieve their dreams.
Santa Monica High School’s Jeffe Huls is “larger than life” choir teacher with a passion for teaching and an edgy sense of humor. His talented students practice diligently to pass the highly competitive auditions, meet daily to learn and sing challenging music, and perform both for their local community and in venues around the world. But why is Mr. Huls so moved by the power and artistry of the human voice? Why has he dedicated his life to teaching teenagers how to sing? And what does it take for Mr. Huls’ students to rise to his high standards? Why do they dedicate so much of their time and resources to singing? What critical life lessons do they learn and how does singing in the choir affect their artistic and academic dreams as 21st century teenagers?
BIG VOICE will follow Mr. Huls and his teenage students interweaving interviews and concerts with ‘slices of life’ footage. It will explore what it means to be a teenager facing an unknown future, and an accomplished artist creating great art in the context of a public school. In addition, this visually stunning documentary will include original songs created for and by the students with the assistance of Grammy-winning artists*.
BIG VOICE reveals the challenging journey of an extraordinary teacher who overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles to educate and transform students to step into adulthood as powerful contributors to a world that needs them. BIG VOICE will entertain you, touch your soul and uplift your spirit.
To see the BIG VOICE Promo Video and find out more about this musical documentary please visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigvoicemovie/big-voice-dare-to-dream
Varda Hardy- Writer/Director/Producer
I confess. I love making movies. I want to make beautiful, truthful work that will engage and inspire. You may have seen some of my short films…Window starring Louis Gossett Jr. that screened at Cannes and aired on cable networks across the U.S.? Or Race To The Sky which aired during the Grammy Awards? Maybe you caught What Kind Of Planet Are We On? It received the “most innovative” non-profit video on YouTube & went viral with over half a million unique views. Or Ode To Los Angeles which recently won the Grand Prize from NewFilmmkers LA/LA INC? I treasure each of these films and the challenges my crew and I experienced making them. And now we are embarking on another incredible challenge, BIG VOICE! It takes a huge amount of effort to create meaningful films, but it’s worth it. I’m deeply grateful to my family, friends & community for supporting my efforts to use my creativity, skill and filmmaking ability to create good works.
As we near the end of the production season we circle back to the topic of directing. Varda Hardy started in this industry as a script supervisor and worked steadily until she made the switch to directing five years ago. Varda recently won $100,000 for her 1 minute film about Los Angeles for the On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project. Varda’s Kickstarter campaign for her new documentary Big Voice is the focus of this month’s Support from Start to Finish feature this month.
Varda Hardy- Writer/Director/Producer
I was born in London, England. A year after I was born, my parents moved to Israel where my father served in the army. My mother is South African and my father is Romanian. He had moved to Israel to escape the communist take-over of his native land. My mother was on holiday in Israel when she fell instantly in love with the young soldier–my father. I fell in love with “the movies” one summer night in Israel when I caught sight of A Man and A Woman screening at a drive-in theater nearby my window.
Following six years in Israel, my mother brought my older sister and I back to England where we remained for several years until we moved to San Francisco. It was in San Francisco that I started to make my own 8mm movies with a camera my 8th grade English teacher Mr. Mohan lent to me. He believed that there is different kind of learners and some people learn best by making things…like movies. He was right about me. I love to make things, especially movies. I lose myself in the creative process, the germs of ideas bubbling up like and catching on fire like lava rising from the mysterious inner earth.
Following San Francisco came a short stay in Los Angeles and then we were off to the “big apple”. I went to High School at Dalton New York City, where I fell in love with dance and theater. Then I went to Cornell University where I re-discovered my passion for filmmaking under the tutelage of Cultural Anthropology Professor Robert Asher. Like Mr. Mohan, Prof. Asher believed in alternative forms of learning and expression. He encouraged me to pick up an old super-8 camera to create a report instead of writing it. I went to NYU for a semester where a screening of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now got under my skin. That’s when I knew I would pursue directing.
I studied directing at Cornell University, received my MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, worked as an assistant director and then script supervisor of numerous film projects both for television and theatrical until about five years ago when I shifted into directing. My husband Patrick S. Bennett and I are enjoying raising two lovely daughters Paloma and Raven, the rest is icing on the cake.