May 13, 2012

Cine Gala

A couple weeks back, the chair of the film scoring department, Dan Carlin, lets me know that he would like to see me in his office ASAP.  This scared me a little bit, being in the last couple weeks of school and all.  I thought maybe I failed a class, or something worse.  So I get into his office and surprisingly, he gives me one of the biggest musical opportunities I've had thus far.  He told me that someone had contacted him and told him they needed someone to write all the incidental music for an awards ceremony.  They needed music every time a winner gets announced and walks up to the stage.  Him and the assistant chair, Alison Plante, decided to ask me!!

So I got in contact with the director of Cine Gala, Wendy Revel, and she told me what type of music she wanted and asked if I could have it by the following week.  So I wrote up a storm, got it in on time,  and she approved everything!  And as a reward, she flew me out to Washington D.C. to attend the awards ceremony!

So a little about Cine.  Cine is an organization dedicated to "promoting the careers of thousands of filmmakers through juried competitions, educational programs, and networking opportunities".  Cine Gala is their annual event where they recognize several honorees, who are already trail blazers and extremely successful in their careers, and they award up-and-coming filmmakers for short films and documentaries.

So on May 9th, I flew out to D.C. and first attended an interview with Marvin Hamlisch, a giant of film scorer.  He wrote the music for "The Spy Who Loved Me" (James Bond), "Sophie's Choice",  and "The Way We Were", just to name a few.  I was grateful to hear his honesty, and his words had weight to them, knowing that he is still working in the field.

Later that night I went to the main event.  Before the ceremony, there was a banquet where I got to meet many filmmakers, directors, and producers.  Many of them were already very successful and already working on mainstream television shows and short films.  It was also great to meet the short film and documentary nominees, they were excited to be there and very genuine.  During this time, I got to meet Marvin Hamlsich, Michael Uslan (executive producer of all the Batman films), Sheldon Harnick (lyricist for "Fiddler on the Roof"), and Eileen O'Neill (president of Discovery and TLC networks).  It was an honor to meet all these astonishing individuals.

We then went to the main stage for the awards show.  Unfortunately there was a production mistake.  There were video clips for every winner and honoree and for some reason the videos hadn't rendered correctly, so they didn't get to show them.  But other than that, it all ran smoothly.  And I got to hear my music played whenever the winners were announced!!!  After the event, Sheldon Harnick complimented me on my music.  Something I'll never forget.

This whole event couldn't have happened at a more perfect time.  The day before the event, my website was finalized by Tiama Hamkins-Indik.  Also the day before, Nathan Cote finished my shnazzy business cards.  Everything lined up so I could network with a room full of extremely talented people working in film.  I think I was the only film composer there other than Marvin Hamlisch!  Either way I cannot even begin to think of how to thank Dan Carlin and Alison Plante for recommending me. I'm exceptionally grateful to them.  They've been my mentors and friends ever since I declared film scoring as a major.

I'm hoping to work with some of the people that I met at Cine Gala.

To the future!  Cheers!


May 5, 2012

Scoring Silent Films

Last semester I took a class called Scoring Silent Films, with professor Sheldon Mirowitz.  In this class, four composers and I wrote all the music to the famous 1925 film, Battleship Potemkin, by Sergei Eisenstein.

The movie is a slightly fictionalized depiction of one of the first battles of the Soviet Revolution.  It was originally commissioned by Stalin as a communist propaganda film.  It was one of the first films to use a cinematic technique that we take for granted now called montage.

After orchestrating and composing under Sheldon's direction, we recorded all the music, and performed it live with a small orchestra to picture at Coolidge Corner Theatre.  The showing was a success, and we then had the amazing opportunity to perform Battleship Potemkin at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on March 9th.

Here's the link to the live performance:

This semester, I'm the intern for the Scoring Silent Films class along with another composer from last semester, Akhil Gopal (in the previous photograph, all the way to the right).  This semester there are seven composers writing the music for the 1929 film, Piccadilly.

Piccadilly is a prototypical film noir about a night club in London in the 1920's.  In the film there is jealousy, murder mystery, traditional chinese music, courtroom drama, and dance songs, all set in a jazz idiom.

The score is really fun and even includes an erhu, a traditional chinese instrument that resembles a 1-string violin played vertically.  You can come and see the performance at the Coolidge Corner Theatre this monday (May 7th) at 7p.m.  For more information go to the following link:

The experience of being a composer and an intern for the past two semesters has taught me so much.  I've learned from my teacher, the other composers, the players, and all of the countless mistakes I made.  After taking this class, I'm a different composer and a different person.  And I've also gained so many new friendships.  I'll never forget being a part of this impossible undertaking.

See you on monday!