Awning | Short Film & Interview with Megan Shung

Escaping her deafening world, a woman finds her composure in music, and in the dark wild expanses of nature. 

Awning is a short film shot and directed by Claude Morcos, composed by John W. Synder, and performed by Megan Shung.

PCM: Hi Megan! I know there is an interesting backstory to this project. You had mentioned that it began as an unlikely collaboration with a director (Claude Morcos) that you met somewhat randomly on Facebook? Can you tell us a little bit about that and how Awning came to be?

MS: At the time, it was January 2021. LA had just shut down again and live music just felt even further away. I was doom scrolling in a Facebook group when a post caught my eye. He introduced himself as a South African/Egyptian photographer, who was in LA temporarily looking to collaborate “towards making something that we can be proud of”. I couldn’t tell if the post was genuine, or if I’m about to become a scam victim in the next Netflix docuseries. A bunch of models had responded and I thought “what the heck” I’ll be that one violinist in the thread and try my luck with the universe. So I dropped my Instagram handle in the comments and forgot about it. 

Then two days later, Claude Morcos appeared in my message request inbox. He was “really impressed” with my violin playing and wanted to collaborate. I hit up my composer friend John Snyder and commissioned him for the project. The next day, we hopped on a Zoom call to meet Claude – the stranger from the internet.

PCM: What drew you most to the project? The concept? The composition (by John W. Snyder)? Something else?

MS: I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of chance and taking risks. My previous project – Element of Chance: Geologic Formation was an experiment of performing live improvised music with the latency of Zoom. I knew “Awning” was going to be a challenging project. With only 15 days to compose & record music, and shoot the film on a shoestring budget during a pandemic, taking a chance on a stranger was both thrilling and terrifying. Some might find the adrenaline exhausting, I find it thrilling and inspiring. Creating Awning gave me a kind of high that I haven’t felt in a long time. 

In addition to the excitement of the unknown, I also really enjoyed Claude’s work and his meticulous attention to detail. I commissioned John to write me this violin piece. Our team went with the go-big-until-we-can’t-anymore attitude, it made our project better than we thought was possible.

Woman surrounded by musical equipment being recorded by a man

PCM: The film is described as an “introspective meditation on our nomadic sense of homelessness in the world” and does a great job of capturing the dramatic, natural beauty of California. So… two questions: What happened to your shoes at the end? And 2) Besides Barrett Hall, where did you shoot? Specifically, what beach was that? El Matador?

MS: Oh my gosh, I had taken my shoes off half way through the shoot because they were hurting. I guess in the film, the idea was that I am writing the music all night until daylight and I was tired of those shoes too.

We shot the beach scene at the Leo Carrillo Beach in Malibu. In order to film in the cave before the tides retreated we climbed down 20 feet of rocks and lowered the gear by rope. I was so unprepared, I climbed down barefoot in the dress I was shooting in. Hindsight 20/20, I guess that was less than a smart move. Don’t tell my mom.

PCM: Thanks so much for chatting and sharing this project with us. You always have a lot of exciting projects in the works. Anything interesting coming up?

MS: I have many projects on the horizon, shooting a violin and piano duo performance video at a mansion, curating a new concert series 2022-23 for teens and tweens at PCM and also working on a hip hop jazz album which will be my first album. So much to do! 

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