- Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015
Sonixphere, a global resource for everything related to music and sound, composed an emotional score for a powerful three-minute film entitled “Appeal for the Orphans of Liberia,” the centerpiece of a newly-launched CrowdRise fundraising campaign benefitting Acres of Hope (AOH), a nonprofit charitable organization whose orphanage in Liberia is facing critical challenges providing food and medical care for its new “Ebola orphans” – babies and children left without families after parents haves succumbed to the disease.
“Children will die… if help doesn’t come,” executive director of AOH, Patricia Anglin, states in the film, as she describes the lifesaving measures her organization takes caring for the vulnerable orphans including nursing them through 21 days in quarantine and providing a home for them in the AOH Monrovia orphanage until adoptions can be arranged.
“Half way through watching this video for the first time, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help with this amazing project,” says Sonixphere CEO/Creative Director, Greg Allan, who was approached by the film’s producer, Chicago freelance creative director, John Siebert, to compose an original score to the film.
Siebert was inspired to helm the pro bono project after his friend and neighbor, Jeremy Capell, a board member of Adoption Link, Oak Park, IL, explained the dire situation AOH faced in sustaining its orphans in the wake of the Ebola crisis. Many businesses have shut down resulting in acute shortages of much-needed supplies. Siebert was moved to lead the Chicago creative coalition that donated time, talent, and expertise toward realizing the project. The CrowdRise funding goal is $25,000, which will go towards buying and shipping containers of medicine, food and other supplies to AOH’s orphanage enabling Ms. Anglin to continue humanitarian efforts until such time adoptions can resume.
Siebert used his resourcefulness and connections from years on staff at DDB Chicago and J. Walter Thompson to enlist some of the city’s best post production talent and emerging talent, such as Danielle Dwyer, a Columbia College journalism grad student who shot the film using a camera loaned to her by the college.
The film features the charity’s director, Ms. Anglin on camera tearfully describing the plight of the orphans, who are cast out by their own relatives after their parents have died from Ebola. Intercut with her moving narration are searing images of the heart-breaking faces of the orphans she cares for at the AOH facility in (what town?) and talking points as she describes alarming conditions in Liberia that have worsened in recent months due to shortages of supplies and rising costs of food and services in the wake of the epidemic. Sonixphere’s Allan was immediately onboard and was inspired to sit down at the keyboard and start composing.
“The images of the children are enough to make anyone interested in what’s happening onscreen and want to help. Then add the narrative from Ms. Anglin and it’s pretty emotional to watch,” says Allan, who has worked with Siebert on commercial projects in the past through DDB. “My approach was to be subtle and emotional, allowing enough space to support the narrative, and let the pictures and Ms. Anglin tell the story.”
Allan, whose company Sonixphere has turned out work for Ford, McDonalds, and Onstar commercials, as well as numerous TV show scores and themes, ensured the music he created served the story and promoted Ms. Anglin’s cause. “During the three minutes, she goes back and forth on the emotional wheel as she describes what’s happening to these children in Liberia. She’s informational, she cries, and then is hopeful, and even celebratory at the end. I wanted the music to follow her emotional arc,” he explains.
Using only minimal piano, organ and strings, Allan intentionally left pauses in the score to “stay out of the way of the dialog” and allow time for the gravity of the Ms. Anglin’s words to sink in as the heartbreaking images of the children appear onscreen. Editing was done by Billy Montross of Cutters.
STIR Post Audio then stepped up to the plate and asked senior mixer/sound designer Amber Tisue do the final audio mix to picture. (Allan is one of three partners in the full service audio post house that he launched in 2014 with partners David Kaplan and Mindy Verson.
“I’m glad John came to us to help him with this project,” says Allan. "He gave us a chance to put our talents towards a worthy, important cause. We’re trying to save children’s lives; what could be more worthy than that?”
“This project inspired me,” says Siebert. “When I learned about the situation of the orphans in AOH’s Liberian orphanage I wanted to help. I am grateful to the big-heartedness of the Chicago post community and how they all stepped up to the plate to donate their talent, time and expertise and, hopefully, we will have saved children’s lives.”
Acres of Hope (www.acresofhope.org) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization supporting the vulnerable women and children of Liberia with program emphasis on Social Protection programs and Sustainable Development.
Adoption Link (www.adoption-link.org), is Acres of Hope's adoption partner and dedicated to helping all children regardless of race or health status find a permanent and loving home.