Monday, November 5, 2007
THE 48 HOUR FILM PROJECT
The 48 Hour Film Project, www.48hourfilm.com, is an International competition held in major cities throughout the world. This past July, Seattle held it’s 48 Hour Film competition and I was asked to participate as a composer on a team of talented local filmmakers.
The competition has strict guidelines for creating the films. The time frame is literally 48 Hours from start to finish. Films must be 4-7 minutes in length and each film must include certain criteria outlined in the guidelines. Films are judged by a selected panel and are screened publicly a few days after the competition. . The audience participates in nominating films for the “Best of” City Awards and at the end of the competition year, a Grand Prize of $7500. from Visa, is awarded to the “ Best Film” In May a selection of “The Best of 2006” was shown at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.
In preparation for the weekend challenge, teams are allowed to organize the crew, find a shoot location, select the cast and secure equipment. The creative process can only begin at the start of the 48 hours. This includes, script writing, production, music composing, costume design, props and editing.
This year 36 teams competed in the Seattle 48 Hour competition. Our team, headed by Director Prezmek Pardyak, had producers, a crew, actors, writers and caterers which totaled 35 members.
Our five member script writing team was composed of award winning producer/writer Meredith Binder, http://www.pawky.com/featured/rent_s_due, award winning writer, Barbara Lindsay Selig http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/AuthorBio.php?titlelink=10308, Bill Selig, Ian Stone and Prezemek Pardyak
A film location was secured at an artist’s building called “ The Foundary” This building is used for sculptors who create bronze casts and follow the “ lost wax” process of sculpting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_wax The uniqueness of this building is unmatched and was an ideal setting for the film.
I made my preparations for the weekend by making sure my studio ( computers, sequencing software, music software, piano, etc.) were in perfect working order. I then cleared my schedule for a marathon weekend of composing!
At the start of the competition, directors from each team pick a “ genre” out of a hat. Some of the genres include western, comedy, drama and romance The criteria to be included in the film, such as a prop, a sentence and a name, is also provided at this time.
Seattle’s 48 Hour weekend started on July 13 at 7:30 pm and ended on July 15th at 7:30 pm. On the evening of July 13th at 7:30 pm Prezemek Pardyak, our team Director, picked a genre out of a hat and returned to his team of script writers to began the creative process. Our genre was “ Drama” and the criteria to include in the film was: (prop), a helmet, (sentence) “Everything is going to change, starting now”, and a (name) Lenora or Lenny Chavez, veterinarian.
The writing team worked through the night and by 6 am on Saturday they had a script. I was emailed the script at 6:30 am and began working on music.
Everyone was on location by 8am to start rehearsing. I arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon and spent some time talking with the actors and getting a feel for the set. Prezemek and I talked about more details on the music and I headed back to my studio to continue working.
By 10:30 pm a Main Theme was composed, orchestrated and ready for the Director’s approval. Back at The Foundary they were filming and were approximately one third of the way through. I was very impressed with the Director’s attention to detail and by the support and enthusiasm of his cast and crew. At 12:30 am Prezemek called for a break and was able to spend a few minutes with me going over the Main Theme.
On Sunday, I was in contact throughout the day with the Director supplying him with new music as he needed it. Prezemek and the editor, Thomas Oliver, worked on the editing and color right up to the last minute.
At 7:15 pm a driver was waiting for Prezemek in a running car, he jumped in and they sped through town to the drop off location.
Our film “ The Last to Remember” was a second runner up in an “Audience Award ” Photos from the set can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ventchdable/sets/72157600993123560
The film will be submitted into film festivals this year. On my web site, http://www.nanavant.com you can listen to the Main Theme for “ The Last to Remember” and find updates on the film’s progress.
Everyone involved with the production of our film gave their All to make it a success and I am amazed at the quality of work that took place in 48 hours!
This article appeared in the October/November issue of " No Strings Attached E-News" Please see content " Films & Movies" www.nostringsattachedenews. com
New York at Night
In the June edition of No Strings Attached E News my article on The Tribeca Film Festival touched on some of the exciting events and encounters I had while in New York. One of my experiences was a very special evening I spent with a musician/college friend, Greg Cohen.
Greg Cohen, a bass player and composer, plays with Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits. He has played with the Rolling Stones and collaborated on arrangements for the films “ Fried Green Tomatoes” and “ Ed Wood”. Greg hails from Los Angeles and has been living on the east coast for a number of years while performing all over the world. We attended CalArts together ( California Institute of the Arts) www.calarts.org and have been in touch over the past several years.
On premier night for “Postcards from Tora Bora”,(see last months article on the Tribeca Film Festival) Greg had a concert at Columbia University honoring John Zorn who received the very prestigious William Schuman Award.
Due to the screening, I was unable to attend this concert. Fortunately, the next opportunity presented itself the following Monday night at the Café Carlyle where Greg played with Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band http://www.thecarlyle.com/entertainment.com
The Café Carlyle, located in the Carlyle Hotel on the upper eastside of Manhattan, has an elegant and charming atmosphere and is a perfect setting for intimate live music. Woody Allen is an accomplished clarinetist and the band players are exceptional musicians. The band that night included Woody Allen, Eddy Davis, Greg Cohen, Patrick Carmichael, Jerry Zigmont,and Conal Fowkes
New Orleans Jazz is very entertaining, upbeat and lyrical music. I thoroughly enjoyed the music and seeing Woody Allen in such a personal setting.
After the concert I suggested to Greg that we go out for a bite. He said there was an opening of the new David Bowie concert club in New York and that Lou Reed, who was performing for the event, had added Greg to the VIP list to get into the club. We decided to try our luck and see if I could be added to that “ VIP” list. As Greg was packing up his double bass I took pictures of the band and collected a few autographs.
We left the Carlyle and caught a cab to The Highline Ballroom located n the Meatpacking District. The doorman made it possible for two VIP passes and we were in!
The Highline Ballroom was brimming with people. The Ballroom is a 700 capacity concert venue with a large stage. We weaved our way up to the VIP area and watched a sensational performance. Lou Reed played with his band and John Zorn joined in at the latter part of the concert. With Lou Reed’s band fused with John Zorn’s saxophone playing the evening’s musical offerings escalated beyond expectation.
Lou Reed's, , “ Walk on the Wild Side” is renowned and his music with the Velvet Underground is legendary. John Zorn is largely known among musicians, filmmakers and within the New York music scene. He has been a leading figure in American music composition. His bands include “ “Naked City” and “ Masada”. YouTube carries an extraordinary video, which I highly recommend viewing, called “The Masada Trio” featuring Greg Cohen on bass. In the video you will also see John Zorn seated and listening to the players.
Among Zorn’s exceptional CD’s are his famous “ Film Works” series.
After the concert Laurie Anderson ushered the VIPs backstage. Laurie Anderson is also a leading performer /composer in the music and art world. I have been her fan since the release of her album “ Rocket Science” in the 80’s. Lou Reed has been married to Laurie Anderson for several years.
Greg and I headed backstage and congratulated Lou Reed, John Zorn and Band members on a great concert. Backstage had more recognizable celebrities from New York;s music and television scene including Paul Schafer from the Late Show.
This was a spectacular evening and completely unexpected.
Nan Avant is a film composer living in Seattle and writes for an online publication:
No Strings Attached E-News
Thhis past April I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. I composed original music for a documentary feature film which had a World Premier on April 26th at the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary, Postcards From Tora Bora, by New York Directors Wazhmah Osman and Kelly Dolak and editing by Stephen Jablonsky, documents the life of Afghani born Osman. In 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Ms. Osman’s family was torn apart. Her father was imprisoned for over a year and eventually set free. On his insistence and for their protection, his wife and daughters were relocated to America while he remained in Afghanistan and joined the resistance against the Soviets.
In 2004 Osman and Dolak traveled to Kabul. Originally their idea was to document the current status of women in Afghanistan but soon the documentation became a journey into Osman’s former life in Kabul. Through the camera we see former family dwellings and places Osman had frequented as a child such as the Kabul Zoo, and catch only fragments of what previously existed. A significant element of this documentary is the compelling footage from the 70’s and 80’s of Osman’s family home videos and old photographs. These reveal to us what life would have been like in Kabul for an upper middle class family. Osman’s father,
Dr. Abdullah Osman, M.D. continues to live in Afghanistan and works as a doctor and philanthropist helping orphans and victims of war. He is the Director of Operations in Afghanistan for International Orphan Care http://www.orphanproject.org
Composing music for this documentary was an exciting and very creative experience. The Directors asked me to create “ ambient textured music” to enhance the mood of the film. I created audio and electronic recordings using acoustic instruments, voice and sampled sounds such as the Sitar, Tabla and Dulcimer. The original textured music combined with music from Afghanistan created a. unique blend of sound.
There were five screenings of Postcards from Tora Bora . The World Premier was held at LOWES AMC Theater on 34th street in Midtown Manhattan on April 26th at 10pm. The Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival, Peter Scarlet, introduced the film and the Directors to the audience. We had an excellent turnout for the opening. Osman’s entire family attended the premier including her father Dr Osman. After the film there was a Q & A with the Directors and short interviews with the press. The Directors hosted an after party which started at midnight and was held at the Bamiyan Restaurant, which features Afghan cuisine A perfect way to end a fabulous evening.
New York’s Tribeca Film Festival is a spectacular event focusing on new films by Independent filmmakers as well as films which include celebrity casts. The Tribeca Film Festival (Tribeca, Triangle Below Canal street) was created by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in 2002. Establishing a major film festival in lower Manhattan was created to revitalize the district of Tribeca after 9/11. “The mission of the film festival is "to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience."
There were so many excellent films and panel events to attend and I was able to get in a series of short films and an interesting panel discussion by female directors titled “ Brining Home the Bacon” This panel featured Eva Mendes, Mary Stuart Masterson, Julia Stiles, Rosario Dawson and Julie Delpy. These talented women shared their experiences as producers, directors and actors from the perspective of women working in a primarily male dominated field. This was a very insightful and auspicious discussion.
During the festival I met an array of interesting people. Directors, journalists, and press reporters for print and online publications. The Editor in Chief Brad Balfour from Timessquare.com, www.timessquare.com, and Sherry Eaker from Backstage.com www.backstage.com. Both of these reporters write for excellent publications and I would highly recommend them to anyone interested in the latest happenings in New York for film, theater, music and art. Networking at the festival’s various filmmaker and press parties has led to promising new contacts and I am looking forward to new collaborations.
While I was in New York I had some spectacular experiences with musician and art friends which I will write about in our next months publication.
Postcard from Tora Bora’s next stop on the film festival circuit is slated for The Toronto Film Festival in September.
For more information on composer Nan Avant, Postcards from Tora Bora, The Tribeca Film Festival and ineterviews with Peter Scarlet please follow the links below. A “Google” search on “Postcards from Tora Bora” will lead you to interviews, articles and video interviews with the film directors.
This article appeared in the June edition of " No Strings Attached E-News" Please see Archives under " Silver Screen" www.nostringsattachedenews.com