Private Project

Birth of a Pipe Organ

Exploring the world of the pipe organ, through a bio pic of the organ builder, Lynn A Dobson, and performance of virtuoso organist, Haig Mardirosian.

While watching the construction of his Opus 89 (a team project), organ builder Lynn A Dobson takes us through a journey not only his career and early affinity for the organ, but also through the history of the organ, and its inner mechanical workings and structure as a musical instrument driven by wind and pipes. We also learn about the architects he has worked with including Rafael Vinoly at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, and Rafael Moreno of the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, and about the transformation of the Washington National Cathedral, and St Thomas Church and their need for entirely new organs.

Filmmaker Dana Plays visited the organ shop, captured interview over dinner with Dobson (at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Lake City, Iowa), and followed the installation by climbing 50 scaffolds to get inside the organ, and birds eye views of wind chests, bourdon pipes, being installed, and more. The camera brings into view macro cinematography of all of the intricate parts of the organ, we see them being installed, while also explained. Interweaving through this narrative we hear the organ performances of Haig Mardirosian, (performed on Opus 89) of works of Franz Liszt, Edvard Grieg and Mozart, we hear what is being built.

  • Dana Plays
    Director
    Demise of Sugar, The Longest Walk
  • Dana Plays
    Writer
  • Dana Plays
    Producer
  • Lynn A. Dobson
    Key Cast
  • Haig Mardirosian
    Key Cast
  • Dana Plays
    Cinematography
  • Dana Plays
    Editing
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Bio-Pic, Music
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 29, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    2,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    DSLR Canon 5D
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Milan International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema
    Milan
    Italy
    November 27, 2017
    Best Director of a Short Documentary
  • Lund Architecture International Film Festival
    Lund
    Sweden
    October 9, 2017
    World Premiere
  • Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award
    Los Angeles
    United States
    March 3, 2018
    HIIDA: Award of Recognition
Distribution Information
  • Dana Plays
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Dana Plays

Bio of Dana Plays

Dana Plays is an award winning, American film director known for her documentary, narrative and avant-garde works that interweave personal themes. Plays utilizes a experimental approach to her work, weaving a rich landscape of imagery, that combines metaphor with iconography creating poetic resonance.

Dana Plays, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a filmmaker most known for her award winning documentary and experimental films that have shown widely throughout the world. She picked up her first camera at the age of 9 on a holiday vacation in the West Indies. She began serious study of photography at 15 years of age, when she learned to shoot with a 35mm SLR camera, developed negatives and printed her own work. She subsequently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she was awarded two fine arts degrees from the California College of the Arts (Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts), and launched her career as a filmmaker and digital artist. Enmeshed in the fine art scene of the San Francisco Bay Area, Plays produced a series of experimental films, that she shot and edited herself, a proponent of hands on approach to foster ones own vision.

Plays' filmography consists of 31 works in film and digital video, consisting of documentaries, experimental films and installations. Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art: Color of Ritual, Color of Women, Avant-Garde Women Filmmakers of the Twentieth Century and more than 50 international film festivals, including Edinburgh, Montreal Nouveau, and Seattle International Film Festivals. Her films have garnered more than 25 film festival awards including the prestigious First Prize Jurors' Choice Award at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival for Nuclear Family; Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival for Zero Hour; Best Experimental Film at the Houston International Festival for Across the Border; and Best Documentary Award at the New Orleans Film Festival for Love Stories My Grandmother Tells, which also was broadcast on VPRO, a Dutch national television network. Since 2005, Plays has had national awards and exhibitions including a Black Maria Film Festival award; a solo retrospective in Boulder, CO, at First Person Cinema, the longest standing American showcase for independent film; a digital installation of her piece Salvage Paradigm, at the Play Space Gallery, in San Francisco; a digital installations of and her video montage of Hollywood films situated in the Los Angeles River, River Madness, at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Plays serves on the board of directors of Canyon Cinema, in San Francisco.

Plays, professor of Film and Media Arts, and Women's Studies, at The University of Tampa has taught all aspects of film and digital production and studies since 1990, with previous teaching appointments at Syracuse University and Occidental College. At The University of Tampa, Plays teaches experimental, documentary and narrative filmmaking, world cinema, independent film and video, and women's studies.

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Director Statement

The film brings forward the power of the organ music, depth of voice of the narrator, and intensity of the experience of the building of the organ. The structure of the film is in part designed to make chordance between tones and sounds within the musical repertoire, and the story as it unfolds. Organ works are performed on the organ that is being built by internationally acclaimed concert organist, Haig Mardirosian. The camera brings into view macro cinematography of all of the intricate parts of the organ, we see them being installed, while also explained.

The music brings to life the parts of the organ as they are being played, the pipes, mechanical trackers, wind systems, and digital assist. Filmmaker Dana Plays visited the organ shop, captured interview over dinner with Dobson (at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Lake City, Iowa), and followed the installation by climbing 50 scaffolds to get inside the organ, and birds eye views of wind chests, bourdon pipes, being installed, and more. Through the works of Edvard Grieg, Franz Liszt, Mozart and Bach, the specificities of the building and voicing of the organ, we hear what is being built.