Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Composing, Film, Music, Travel and Inspiration: Keeping the Flow, Inspiration and Deadlines

Composing, Film, Music, Travel and Inspiration: Keeping the Flow, Inspiration and Deadlines: Composing music is a very creative way to spend ones time and keeping the flow of inspiration can be a challenge. I have found that I c...

Keeping the Flow, Inspiration and Deadlines

Composing music is a very creative way to spend ones time and keeping the flow of inspiration can be a challenge. I have found that I can be very inspired when I have a deadline to meet.  Yes, deadlines are inspiring and motivating. The " getter done" scenario has resulted in some of my best work.
Being in the independent film community in Seattle there are many opportunities for  participating in film competitions, like the 48 Hour Film Projects. I have been on a few teams for the 48 Hour in Seattle and LA. My first experience was in 2007. It was daunting to think of composing a score over the weekend. I'm not in LA where the  film scoring action is taking place and  usually the deadline mentality isn't quite as urgent in Indie Films, so my first 48 needed some prep work, mentally and physically. I spent time thinking about music, getting my gear ready to go and then lot's of worrying how this was all going to turn out. That score was for a dramatic film and I liked how it turned out. I wrote about this experience and it's in the archive on my blog.

The requirements  in the 48 hour competition state that nothing can be created ahead of time, although people do use licensed pre- recorded music, which in my opinion, seems a bit out of place for this competition. All other creative ideas, script writing, filming etc can only take place in the 48 hours. Location, cast, crew and equipment must be planned ahead and secured before the competition begins.

The next year, 2008, I was asked again to be on the team  with the same director and team members from Seattle. Our genre that year was a Silent Film. I was inspired that weekend. It was interesting my train of thought,because at one point, about 30 hours into the weekend, I had to make some quick decisions, I made last minute changes and I was in a state of being a bit...irritated?. Yes, irritated, in other words, P. O.'d!  My frame of mind was ... this isn't going the way I would like and I just want to compose this the way I want to compose it, not what I think it should be or what I think other people think it should be,  but what I truly like, musically.  I finished the score thinking, " whatever" .... I like it even if no one else does.
That score won " Best Musical Score" that year in the competition.

It's kind of strange, but  there have been a few times when I am composing and I do get irritated during which time some inspiring and unique music is composed.  I wonder if this happens to other composers?  This isn't to say that I always need to be a irritated to compose something that's good but a few times this has happened to me and the results are mean. I think it's more that I say to myself .. " this is how I like it, damn it, and it's good!". Maybe it's dropping the concern of what others think or what other composers compose, the constant comparing myself to the awesomeness of brilliant composers out there and just saying, " hey this is what I do". period.

In between composing opportunities I do tend to get into a slump, a funk so to speak, about composing.  It's at that time that I search for interesting, inspiring books to keep my mental flow or creativity, flowing. Just staying motivated can be a goal at this time. The two inspirational books I am now reading have been, let's say, awesome. ( I need another word, awesome and amazing are way over used and hastening towards meaningless adjectives) about impressive and wondrous.
The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The first book, The Power of Intention, I found by reading an article about the creator of SPANX, Sarah Blakely who is an avid believer in this book. I thought, this couldn't hurt to read something she liked since she is an extremely successful female billionaire! Sure enough, it's ... wondrous :) and inspiring beyond belief, but you have to be open to metaphysical ideas that transform.

Book two, The Happiness Project, I bought this one at an airport bookstore in Seattle.  I find the best books at the airport, especially the LA airport, specifically, at the Alaska terminal, if we have a lay over in LA I always head to that bookstore for some good reads.
Today, reading The Happiness Project, Ms. Rubin's chapter on " Work Smart" had a great idea. She was dealing with inspiration and time restraints. She found that having a 90 minute limit to be productive was plenty of time and very productive. Prior to this realization, she believed she needed at least 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time to devote to writing. I like this 90 minute slot of creativity and I will try this today with projects I am working on.  This short time frame to create is exactly how I feel about productivity. If I have days, weeks, months on end to work on a project with no apparent deadline in the horizon, I honestly procrastinate. But if I have just a wee bit of time to compose ..  it's done!

For now, it's time to finish up this blog post. Does anyone read this? I have one follower, thank you :)
 Even if no one is reading it, I still enjoy writing down my thoughts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Music, YouTube and Small Successes with the Computer

I've been thinking about my blog and how best to utilize the space here and be of some help to other composers. Mainly, I can write about what has helped me and how I get passed difficult situations.

 I used to call a knowledgeable composer/ teacher who would graciously help me through sequencing or computer issues, he was awesome to say the least. This worked great for a few years, just call " Tim" and he would bail me out of just about any predicament on the computer. He really got too busy and I got annoyed with my lack of staying power to figure things out for myself. I would have to say over the past 2-3 years I have found a lot of solutions by myself. Either sitting there at the desktop for hours sometimes days, until I found the answer. Lately I have turned to the all knowing source of everything.. Google and the fabulous YouTube.
Yesterday I started to work on Symphobia 2 which I purchased several months ago. I had worked with Symphobia 2 for a short time back in January,  then lots of stuff came up and I didn't get back to it until now. I spent hours just trying to update the software and found it really wasn't necessary. I stayed with the original version and found an excellent tutorial on YouTube for Logic 9 and Kontakt 5. Setting this up was slightly complicated but the video is excellent. I also keep notes on my desktop, in Word, titled: : How To Do Stuff, dated for each time I add something new. Usually this is " how to's"  on music and sequencing or quicktime problems. This really helps to be able to quickly go to the How To doc and find what I need.  For instance, I haven't been using Digital Performer very much the past couple of years because I switched to Logic so if I can refer to my " How To" and find what I need on DP, this helps get me back on track with that sequencing program. Logic and DP are so different. Later, I will write about some tricks I found in Reason and how I was able to create Laurels for a postcard in Photo and Preview, it was magic, believe me and it took hours, if not a couple of days.

This is the tutorial from Efficient Musician, Andrew discussing Kontakt 5 and Logic Pro 9 Automation. He did an excellent job describing how to set up separate tracks for each instrument and how to control automation in Kontakt 5.  I have used Kontakt for years with GPO but that version was 2.0 This all works great with Symphobia and I can't wait to get going with composing in Symphobia!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Film and Food .. a great day!

I had a great time today with Nik Perleros, a director I worked with a couple of years ago. I scored his short film, Maria in the Kitchen. A really fun film, great acting, great script and of course great directing. He actually co directed this short with the screen writer, Laurel Minter.
Nik has such a great attitude about, basically, everything.  Just very positive and I like this. I think one has to keep it positive and upbeat in life.
Nik's is doing some creative work with actors and writers in LA. I checked out his new work when I got back to my studio and it's awesome.  He has directed 4 of the shorts in this series which is about Tweets.
This is really good stuff! I haven't watched all of them yet but so far my favorites are Walk of Shame and Pregnancy Test. Nik directed Walk of Shame. I think they will do well with this web series. Also interesting is that the composer, whose music I really enjoyed, also attended the same film scoring program that I did, the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program with Hummie Mann.
The trailer music on Youtube for #nitTWITS is from the Nutcracker Suite and it's perfect. love the editing to this music. 

Can't wait to see what else Nik does in his work.

We had a fabulous gourmet hamburger, the Lola Burger,  at Brave Horse Tavern one of the restaurants owned by Tom Douglas.
Brave Horse Tavern

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Three Actresses Walk Into A Bathroom screens in Seattle this Friday, May 4, 2012 @ STIFF
Seattle True Independent Film Festival
The award winning short directed by Jade Justad screens with the shorts program at STIFF.
My original score won a Gold Medal award at the 2011 Park City Film Music Festival and here is the opening theme!

Music for Script Reading: While Thunder Sleeps

This is a new work I composed for a script reading of a new screenplay by Laurel Minter. WHILE THUNDER SLEEPS is a sci fi thriller based in a Navajo Reservation in the Arizona desert.

"When she is accused of murdering her mentor, a veterinary doctor is forced to escape into the Arizona desert.  The only one willing to help her is a young Navajo Indian and together, they uncover a lethal game of genocide that leads them all the way to the Whitehouse".

 The script reading took place on April 30, 2012 and was performed by 11 actors from Seattle. There were visuals of the Arizona landscape and desert and my music played at different intervals during the reading. This was an awesome experience and I loved creating this work. I recorded all of the music live, playing the instruments myself A Navajo flute, a drum from from Zimbabwe ( that's what I had available), a bean pod shaker for the rattlesnake sound and then I did add one digital instrument which was a drum.