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Exploring the Intersection of Film, Music, and Science: An Interview with Jose Francisco Salgado

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Mark Russell Smith/Jose Francisco Salgado/QCSO
Evan Sammons Photography
Mark Russell Smith/Jose Francisco Salgado/QCSO

In this episode of Perspective, host Mindy Heusel sits down with the multi-talented filmmaker and astronomer, Jose Francisco Salgado, to discuss his latest film project created for Michael Abel's piece, "Liquify." The film was showcased on the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s February Masterworks concert.

Mindy introduces Salgado as not just a filmmaker but also an accomplished physicist, artist, photographer, and explorer. Salgado shares his approach to creating films that perfectly synchronize with the music they accompany, aiming to make it seem as though the music was composed for the film rather than the other way around. He carefully edits his films to follow the music's tempo and character, while also telling a compelling visual story.

For the film "Liquify," Salgado reveals that he knew the piece was centered around the theme of water. Drawing inspiration from this, he traveled to Iceland to capture various water-related scenes such as waterfalls, glacial lagoons, and beaches. He expertly edited the film to match the music's rhythm and character, creating a visually cohesive story. Along the way, Salgado shares how the music sometimes took him in unexpected directions compared to his initial vision, but he made sure to adapt and follow the music's lead.

Salgado's diverse interests in astronomy, photography, art, and music converge in his work, allowing him to communicate scientific concepts through his filmmaking. He discusses the unique experience of sharing his films in concert halls, engaging audiences in science in a non-traditional setting. By sharing personal anecdotes from his travels, he makes the science more relatable and accessible.

Throughout the interview, Mindy and Salgado delve into the specific filming techniques used in "Liquify," highlighting the use of drones to capture perspectives from both close up and high above. They also commend the film's ending, which manages to create a satisfying resolution despite the absence of a grand climax in the music. Salgado's ability to find a visual conclusion that leaves the audience feeling fulfilled is truly remarkable.

As the conversation draws to a close, Salgado expresses his hope that his films inspire curiosity about the natural phenomena and locations showcased. Mindy shares her excitement for the upcoming performance, leaving listeners eager to experience Salgado's captivating film alongside Michael Abel's composition, "Liquify."

Mindy started at WVIK on the evening shift, one night a week, while still a student at Augustana College. Not long after, the station began overnight service and she took on the graveyard shift for a full six nights. In 1985, she moved to days and began her long tenure as host of Perspective, WVIK's afternoon classical music program. Under her direction, the program has developed into a show focused on exploring new music from living composers, not just from orchestra halls but including Broadway and film music.