Is there really anything more complicated than love? We think it should be simple – culturally we are somewhat conditioned to believe it to be so, what with all the “happily ever afters” ingrained in our collective conscious. We grow up expecting to date around, find The One, get married, and have babies, living, yes, happily ever after. But in reality, love is messy and love is complicated.
But at the same time, love is wonderful and complex and enduring. “Love is an echo,” say local filmmakers Herschel Zahnd and Kathryn Furrow. “It can see through the hope of a tortured soul. It can blind itself by the whisper of attraction.” These words, this philosophy of love, come from the website for the Indiegogo campaign for their upcoming film Breath of Heaven, in which they intend to explore these themes.
Breath of Heaven tells the story of three friends living in 1850's New Orleans and New York and the love triangle that emerges – made more complicated “when dealing with honor and virtue in polite society.” The story comes from the mind of Kathryn Furrow, who first conceived the story as a teenager when visiting New Orleans on a family vacation. During this time, she wrote what would eventually become the first 5/8 of the screenplay; in the interim, the idea transformed from a novel to a stage play to, finally, the film currently in pre-production.
Furrow stars in the film as Elisabeth Renee, playing opposite longtime friend, co-producer, and creative collaborator Herschel Zahnd, who, along with portraying the character of Earnst Finnigan, will be directing the film. Furrow and Zahnd first met while attending college, in which they were often acting partners. In 2010, they together produced “Sweeney Todd” for the stage, and their professional relationship was cemented.
This is not Zahnd's first directorial effort. Longtime readers my recall my previous interview with him about his independent filmmaking podcast, FilmAspire. Up til now, his screen credits lie primarily in the horror genre, with films such as Girl Number Three (available for rental at Wild and Woolly), The Trimmer, and A Wish For the Dead (currently in post-production). I asked him in an e-mail interview about the genre shift in directing, moving from horror to period drama. “It's actually more of a dramatic shift BACK,” he says, having focused on the horror genre as an amateur filmmaker due to its ease of production on a small budget. However, he has been working in theater for many years, playing with the works of the likes of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, and Tennessee Williams. Directing Breath of Heaven “[is] a chance to return to roots born on the stage and meld them with the skills I have developed as a filmmaker.” The genre of period drama “allows for dynamics, tension, expression one can't always explore in the horror genre.”