For Hélène Choyer, composing has always been a guiding force in her life. Growing up in the small French town of Garancière, Hélène loved music. She took piano lessons from a young age, and she would always change the notes of the piece she was working on, much to her teacher’s dismay. When she was told she was making a mistake, she would turn and tell her teacher that she was in fact making it her own, having that innate ear for composing even in her earliest years. She began writing her own, original pieces at just nine years old, and has never stopped.
“I think what struck me in composition is the freedom of it. Composing is being able to create everything, play everything, and nobody is imposing limits on you, the only limit is your imagination,” she said.
Now, as an internationally sought-after composer, orchestrator, and sound designer, Hélène has used those natural musical abilities to impress audiences all over the world. Her work on celebrated films like Joseph, A Steward’s Tale, A Winter Without Snow, and more has enhanced stories and captivated viewers, and she has been doing so for many years. She began working professionally at just 15 on the web series Mr Piji, which has been seen in over 100 countries. At only 23, Choyer has already had a career many can only aspire to.
Hélène’s most recent success is the impactful and telling documentary Florise, The Beauty of Haiti, showcasing the true beauty of Haiti, which the media fails to portray, through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl named Florise. The project was a reaction to a now infamous comment made regarding Haiti and African countries implying Haiti is not a beautiful and cultured nation. This film seeks to correct that narrative.
“I thought it was very important to highlight this beautiful culture and show its true value and beauty. I wanted to work on it because I thought it was a selfless project created to give an opportunity to Haitian people to express themselves and tell their own story. I also wanted to work on it because I thought it was interesting for me to learn more about Haitian music culture. I felt the filmmaker’s sincerity and urge to establish the truth about a criticized country. I wanted to participate in something bigger than me,” said Hélène.
Hélène joined the project very early on, forming an idea of the music and sound from the beginning. In a documentary, music is so important in portraying the authenticity of the story, and Hélène did not take that lightly. The film features the story of a young girl and intense beautiful landscapes shot to show the beauty of this island. The music was very important to convey the story as well as highlighting the shots, and for showcasing the filmmaker’s love for Haiti. She also wanted to infuse Haitian culture and music into the soundtrack, and therefore studied the country’s music to make sure she represented the nation well.
Once she was done with writing the soundtrack, Hélène wanted to record some live musicians to have a great performance. She chose a cellist, a violinist and a singer, and made the decision to include a female high voice in the soundtrack to represent the main character in the documentary.
“I think the soundtrack contributes a lot to the sincerity we wanted to show, and my integration of Haitian instruments is another homage and hint of this culture. We wanted to create some kind of immersive experience for the audience where they would feel, hear, watch, and be surrounded by this culture during the movie. Even though Haiti is a small country, its culture is extremely rich, its landscapes are gorgeous, and its people are very welcoming. This goal of this film was to give the opportunity to Haitian people to tell their own story,” said Hélène.
Florise, The Beauty of Haiti premiered in Los Angeles earlier this year. It was distributed on YouTube and shown in select theatres. It also has had a successful festival run, being an Official Selection at the HollyShorts Film Festival, Dumbo Film Festival, NYC Short Documentary Film Festival, Haiti International Film Festival, and more. Hélène is proud to have been such a leading force in the film’s success, and is even more proud to be sharing such an important story with international audiences.
“I am not surprised that the movie has received such great success because it’s a very beautiful piece to watch. The pictures look absolutely gorgeous, it showcases a culture we are not familiar with and creates a curiosity about it. I feel grateful that the audience of the movie understood it’s importance. I feel very proud that my music can contribute to meaningful projects showcasing various cultures and send peaceful and beautiful messages to the world,” she concluded.