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Author: Vivian Schilling

A Voice for the Bonobos

I just spent a remarkable ten days in London where I had the pleasure of working with Luke Evans, one of the loveliest actors I’ve ever met—a Welshman no less.

I was there to produce and direct a voice recording session for his portrayal of Beni, a baby bonobo whose life is chronicled in Alain Tixier’s acclaimed French docudrama “Bonobos: Back to the Wild.”

Luke Evans and Vivian Schilling in WB Studio in London
Luke Evans with Producer/Director Vivian Schilling at Warner Bros. De Lane Lea Studios in London. Luke provides the voice of “Beni” in Alain Tixier’s “Bonobos: Back to the Wild.”

Docudramas are not my usual domain, and I have been intent on not accepting any new film projects until my latest novel is complete, but when I learned that the net proceeds from the film were to benefit the World Wildlife Fund and the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Congo, I accepted the offer to head up the adaptation. I was thrilled with the notion that by making the film more accessible to English-speaking audiences worldwide, I could help raise awareness and funding for this highly endangered species of apes.

Last May, while at the Cannes Film Festival, I first met with the film’s creator, Alain Tixier. He speaks little English and I speak even less French, but this would pose no barrier in our collaboration. His passion for his work was infectious. The project would be a labor of love, not only for me, but for all who would become involved, including Luke Evans who took time out of his busy schedule of blockbuster films to bring little Beni to life.

Midwinter Sun

I’ve always had a deep fondness for the winter—the dark nights, the fire and the hearth. As a writer I find it is often my most creative time of the year, when my cats cozy up and I work long into the nights. The sun and I are better friends in the winter, when the soft orb travels low along the horizon and I can gaze into its warmth without dark glasses.
Winter Solstice sunrise at the megalithic monument of Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland
Winter Solstice sunrise at the megalithic monument of Newgrange in County Meath, IrelandAt noon today, the sun will sink to its lowest point in the southern sky, creating the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The Winter Solstice, also known as the December Solstice or simply as Midwinter, marks the height of the winter’s darkness, the death of the Old Sun and the birth of the new as the days begin to lengthen once again. For several days the sun will appear to stand still at its noontime position as it reverses its seasonal direction back toward greater light.

As those of us in the Northern Hemisphere enter this time of deep reflection, of death and rebirth, of light overtaking darkness, I’m reminded of my recent visit to the ancient tomb of Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland.
The 5,000-year-old passage cairn is aligned to capture the winter solstice at the moment of sunrise, the light piercing through the dark to illuminate its inner chamber. The illumination will last for approximately seventeen minutes before retreating, leaving the depths of the cairn once again in darkness. For several mornings around the solstice, this solar event repeats itself before the inner heart of the tomb finally returns to its year-long sleep of darkness.
Newgrange is part of the Brú Na Bóinne, or Mansions of the Boyne, a collection of megalithic cairns erected at the bend of the River Boyne. It is one of the oldest man-made structures on earth. It was radiocarbon dated to 3200 B.C., making it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza.
There are many theories as to why the Neolithic people built the magnificent mound. While archeologists originally classified it as a passage tomb, many now recognize it as an ancient temple, one of powerful religious, cultural and astronomical significance.

Land of the Redhead

I recently returned from an amazing trip to the Republic of Ireland—a vacation mixed with research for my current novel. I’ve been back for almost two weeks now, yet my days and nights are still turned upside down. In the middle of the afternoon I’m falling into a coma where remnants of the Emerald Isle rush past in delicious snippets of sight, sound, and glorious green. If there’s anything Ireland is, it’s green.

Vivian Schilling overlooks the Bonane Valley from atop a fairy fort in County Kerry, Ireland.
Author Vivian Schilling overlooks the Bonane Valley from atop a fairy fort in County Kerry, Ireland.

As a redhead with Irish roots, I’ve wanted to visit Ireland from the time I was a small child. When teased about my freckles and orange hair, my mother would tell me about the Land of Redheads where Carrot-tops, Pumpkin-heads, and Irish Setters reigned. All the better that the land had no snakes.

For as long as I can remember, Ireland has lived as a mythical place in my being, a magical realm alive with spirit. Land of the bard, the storyteller, and the seer. Land of the Druids and the dreamers. Land of the Kings of Tara, of Catholicism, Protestantism, and old Pagan religions. A land so incredibly beautiful that it couldn’t possibly exist.

I’ve spent considerable time in the neighboring Wales researching her culture and Celtic mythology, as well as enjoyed many visits to England. More than once, I’ve stood on the Aberystwyth shore and looked across the Irish Sea, but never traversed those waters until now.

Inside the Works of Stanley Kubrick

LACMA-KUBRICK-EXHIBITION-PHOTO-17 I had the pleasure of visiting the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) last week and I have to say it was incredible.

To those of you in L.A… if you haven’t seen it, go now before this exhibition closes. The final day is June 30th. I spent a couple of hours and wish I would have had more time. To see the breadth of Kubrick’s career laid out in set stills, costumes, production notes, cameras, lenses and a myriad of artifacts dating from his early days as a photographer for Look magazine to his very last film, “Eyes Wide Shut,”  was fascinating to say the least.

From the sheer aspect of filmmaking, it was fun to see the march of time through the changing technology Kubrick utilized. Long before the light-sensitive digital cameras of today, Kubrick made cinematic history by shooting “Barry Lyndon” by mere candlelight and natural light. The famed Mitchell BNC Camera and the super-speed Zeiss lens developed for NASA are part of the treasures to be ogled.

But you don’t have to be a film enthusiast or even a Kubrick fan to appreciate the exhibition. The literary set will find much of interest as well.

A Czech Toy Story


“Schilling writes with all the passion of lightning.”

—The Book Reader

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