Hearts Beat Loud
by director/co-writer Brett Haley
When I first met my writing partner, Marc Basch, he asked me what kind of movie I’d most like to make. I’d replied without hesitation, “A musical.” I grew up doing musical theater at my high school in Pensacola, Florida and it was through productions of Anything Goes, Funny Girl and Into The Woods that I discovered I wanted to be an artist and a storyteller.
Hearts Beat Loud isn’t exactly a musical. But it’s the kind of musical I’ve always wanted to make—one in which the songs are grounded in real-life situations. There’s no breaking out into random song and dance, but the story is still told through songs, and through the musical beats of the characters writing, rehearsing, recording and performing those songs. Music is the mode of communication for these characters, the language they know and speak best.
The obvious challenge of pulling off a music-driven film was that we needed original songs. Great ones: because if they weren’t great, the movie wouldn’t work. Keegan Dewitt had composed the scores and original songs for my previous two films—and, in addition to being in the band Wild Cub, is an accomplished solo artist. I’ve always loved Keegan’s music. I call him “The Wizard,” because there is literally nothing I’ve ever asked him to do that he hasn’t been able to deliver. I knew he would understand the emotional journey we needed to convey, and as expected, he immediately “got” it—and knocked it out of the park. The four songs he wrote, including the title track, are the lifeblood of the film, and are great enough to stand alone as pop songs. Without these songs, this wouldn’t be a movie.
Given the level of anxiety in the world right now, it was very important to me to make a film that makes people feel good, and that reminds people of the simple goodness in the world and in ordinary life. Hearts Beat Loud is about love, acceptance and the power of creation. My goal was to create a film that makes people smile, and comes by that honestly. And just like a “real musical,” my hope is that the film is a deeply felt, shared emotional and uplifting experience for all those who see it.