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Flat Echo

 

    About    

The wife of a former concert pianist struggles to reconnect with her husband before his late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease takes him away forever.

 

Ruby cares for her husband, Richard, a once celebrated pianist now crippled by the late-stages of Alzheimer's Disease. When Richard reacts to a piece of music, Ruby decides to master the piece on the piano. Richard’s condition worsens but Ruby refuses to let go, holding onto the hope that the music will re-establish the connection that she once had with her husband.

Flat Echo​ is generously funded by the University of Southern California as part of CTPR 546, the advanced production class at USC. Only three projects are chosen each semester for this course. 

 

Press Kit Info

Logline

When late-stage Alzheimer’s disease threatens to take away her husband, the wife of a former concert pianist must master the piano piece he responds to in order to connect with him one more time.

Synopsis

Ruby cares for her husband, Richard, a once celebrated pianist now crippled by the late-stages of Alzheimer's Disease. When Richard reacts to a piece of music, Ruby decides to master the piece on the piano. Richard’s condition worsens but Ruby refuses to let go, holding onto the hope that the music will re-establish the connection that she once had with her husband.

Director's Statement

My friend Alan tried his best to sustain his father’s life from cancer but could not keep him. He blamed himself for not being able to say a proper goodbye to his father. Like Alan, many people can’t free themselves from the guilt of not having done enough, even when they have done all they can for their loved ones. Letting go is required part of life, and it provides closure and allows the healing process to begin. Letting go is one of the themes of Flat Echo and I hope that our film can heal those who experienced heartbreak, and give them courage to live.

  

As a Taiwanese national, I directed this film with an Asian perspective. My father, a traditional Asian patriarch, feels embarrassed to hug, not to mention saying the word “love”, even to his family members. However, he works seven days a week to provide a better life for our family. As Richard writes a piece of music and dedicates it to Ruby in Flat Echo, people express love through implied actions in the Asian culture. My mother dedicated her entire life to support our family because my father’s career was not successful. She is a symbol of strong Asian matriarchs - persevering and kind, she mirrors our protagonist Ruby. I hope that through these two characters, I will be able to shed light on the complexity of Asian culture and its family dynamic.

Cast

Tired, exhausted wife of an artist/pianist. Old Ruby carries weight of the world on her shoulders but remains dedicated to taking care of Richard until she finds a possible cure. Richard lights up her world and she latches onto the possibility of curing him.

Ruby (Grace Shen)

Feisty, accomplished pianist suffering from late stage Alzheimer’s Disease. Wheelchair bound, he can only move his fingers but certain music can bring his body and mind back into motion.

Richard (Marc Oka)

Shy perfectionist, hard-working wife who has given up her personal dreams to support Richard’s music. Once a piano player herself, she dismissed her talents to help support his career and uphold her duties as a wife. She can be tense, serious, and driven until Richard soothes her with his beautiful music.

Young Ruby (Hana Wu)

Jovial dreamer and die-hard practitioner of the arts. Richard is an accomplished pianist who has devoted his life to music. Sometimes forgetful, fun, absent-minded yet means well by his love Ruby. He does not always say out loud his love for her but rather shows it in various gestures.

Young Richard (Eddie Yu)

Kind yet stern. Dr. Timmerman is a seasoned geriatric physician who has treated a number of older patients suffering from Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and related mental illnesses. She is well-versed at her job, forthcoming with information, yet compassionate towards delivering the hard truths.

Dr. Timmerman (Dale Waddington)

Crew Bios

Bruce Chiu

Director

Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Bruce Hsin-Ta Chiu is an experienced director, photographer and cinematographer. Before coming to the United States, Bruce had worked as a director in the production company “Amazing Image Studio” he co-founded for five years. His works include commercials, documentaries and short films, and were selected at USC Asian Pacific Film Festival, Taiwanese American Film Festival, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and Formosa Festival of International Filmmaker Awards, etc. He is currently studying film production at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, focusing on directing and cinematography. (Website)

Christina YR Jun

Writer

 Christina YR Jun is a Korean-American director, actor and writer. She began her career as a theater actor, performing with various companies including the Miami Theatre Center, The Goodman Theater (Chicago) as well as Alfred Molina’s company, the New American Theatre (LA). As a director and writer, her work has been selected at such film festivals as CAAMFEST, the Asian-American International Film Festival and Asians on Film. She is an alumni of the directing lab at Yale School of Drama, holds a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois and is a recent MFA graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, focusing on directing and screenwriting. (Website)

Anton Kudrov

Cinematographer

Anton Kudrov is a Russian national and a British citizen. He has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Edinburgh University. He is currently undertaking an MFA in Film & TV Production at the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts. His work ranges from advertisements, to music videos, to a web-series and short narrative films.

Victoria Chen

Associate Producer

Victoria Chen is a Taiwanese American photographer and aspiring filmmaker. After graduating with a business degree in Marketing from Washington University in St. Louis, she made the decision to move to Taipei, Taiwan for a semester to learn Mandarin. A semester turned into over a year, and it was during this time that she discovered the work of New Wave Taiwanese filmmakers like Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien, which ultimately solidified her decision to pursue a career in the arts. She is currently a photographer’s assistant for celebrity and fashion photographer Benjo Arwas and the Short Films Coordinator for this year’s Taiwanese American Film Festival.

Letia Solomon

Producer

Letia Solomon is an award-winning African American filmmaker of Jamaican descent based in Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from the University of California Riverside with a degree in Chemical Engineering and worked as a Materials Engineer in Aerospace for four years before transitioning into a career of film. At the New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA, she wrote and directed “Elevate” which won for Best Student Film in the 2017 Philadelphia Independent Film Awards. Letia is the Co-Creator of the African World Film Festival in Detroit, MI and currently attends USC’s School of Cinematic Arts for a MFA in TV & Film Production. (IMDb)

Xiaoli Liu

Editor

Xiaoli Liu is a Chinese director, writer, editor and actor. He got his bachelor degree majored in Chinese Literature. During the undergraduate, his short film Fade Hands won the 1st prize of national DV competition. After graduation, he kept working in many Chinese film and TV production crews for five years. He was the post-production supervisor in China Central Television. He is currently studying film production at USC School of Cinematic Arts, focusing on editing and directing.

Kara Sullivan

Casting Director

Kara Sullivan entered the world of casting in 2003. She started Kara Sullivan Casting, a casting company located in Los Angeles and New York, in 2004. 

In addition to her work as a professional casting director, Kara is privileged to work with the University of Southern California's prestigious School of Cinematic Arts as a casting advisor. This past summer, she returned as casting professor for the USC/ShanghaiTech Directing Master Class, an exclusive professional program for a group of elite directors from China. 

Recent award-winning films include:
The Thing in The Apartment (2017 Tribeca Film Festival)

Farah Goes Bang (Tribeca Film Festival: Nora Ephron Award Winner) 
Pop Rox (NBCU Shortsfest Finalist)

The Rich and The Ruthless (ISA 2018 Award for Best Ensemble Cast)

Yeon Jin Lee

Producer

Yeon Jin Lee is an Asian American filmmaker residing in Los Angeles, CA. During her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, Yeon Jin joined Pixar as a computer graphics research and technical director intern, where she met many inspiring live-action filmmakers that deeply influenced her decision to pursue live-action, narrative filmmaking. After graduation, Yeon Jin accepted a full-time computer scientist position at the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames Research Center, and left the position after five years to pursue MFA degree in Film and TV production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. (Website | IMDB)

Tianyi Lu

Cinematographer

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Tianyi Lu majored in Digital Media Arts at Xiamen University as an undergraduate. During that time, he got the chance to direct a couple of shorts and won the second prize of The 5th Digital Media Arts Competition of Xiamen University. This experience made him realize he wanted to be a filmmaker in the future. After finishing college, Tianyi went to USC School of Cinematic Arts directly to pursue MFA degree in Film and TV production.

Matt Susskind

Associate Producer

Matt Susskind is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. A computer science undergrad at MIT, Matt was a Product Manager at Google for two years before moving to LA for a career in entertainment. He has written and produced several short films.

 
 

Donations

We thank the following businesses for their generous donations to feed our cast and crew while shooting:

 

Contact

Letia Solomon - Producer

letiasol@usc.edu

(310) 844-3561

Yeon Jin Lee - Producer

yeonjinl@usc.edu

(714) 733-3285

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