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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rainy day musings...

Nursing a hangover from last night's company holiday party while the rain pours down outside.  Getting going on days like this is hard enough.  But here I sit, at my kitchen table staring out the window at the cold rain and typing.  I even skipped my shift at the food co-op.  I'm off work and all that there is on the docket otherwise is a yoga class, picking up groceries maybe, cooking myself some dinner and hitting a friend's party in Bushwick later tonight.  I was thinking about writing a little music, or at least working with my setup or something musical.

I keep telling myself, though, that I should just take this day to do nothing and be useless for a change instead of getting swept up in this frantic need to get something done while I have time to fill (notice I didn't say "time to kill").  A break is in order, yes.  But only because I'm working so much at my day jobs lately.  Not even as some kind of reward for having accomplished something meaningful with voice over or music.  Despite having just seen the screening of "True Love," basking in the attention that the film garnered me, despite feeling more confident in voice over than I have in a long time.

Only when I feel like I've done enough, do I get to days like this and decide to take it easy and not even go to yoga.  But that is rare.  Normally I don't feel like I've done enough.  No, it's hard to feel like I'm doing enough for my career, ever.  And I don't know when you get past that.  Maybe it's even a good thing, it's certainly a motivator.  But then again, maybe it's a form of self-flagellation.  I did all these things.  I moved to New York, got a job, got another few jobs, scored some films, met some incredible people, got a great apartment, started a voice over career, got recognized for all these things, hell, I even made a little money at it.  But I'm still working three jobs to get by and there are all these other things I haven't done, am not doing, that I go from disappointed to straight up mad at myself for not having done.  Live performance of my own music tops out the list.  I have done it but, okay, like once.  So it's a little slow getting going.  I used to call it "rock-out envy" when I'd go see a band play and think, "damn. I should be doing that."  And then every time I'd see some modern concert music, I'd think, "why did I stop writing chamber music?"

But then I remember that a few years ago I started to realize that I can't do every damn thing.  It's clichĂ© but time actually is money these days.  I had to choose what was most worth my time.  It was  one part "is there a monetary return significant enough to justify the investment of time and energy," one part "do you enjoy doing this," and probably more than one part "is this genuine."

That one is most important and I was motivated to answer that when I realized the other two things.  It came down to, if I have a limited amount of time to work, I need to eat and pay rent, then I'd better make sure of the other two things: am I enjoying this and is it what I would be doing if all things were equal and I had all the time in the world.  I even quit doing a few things that I enjoyed because they were taking up more time than they were worth.  Those decisions were hard and I'm better for them.  There's no doubt that the strides I made in my career were a direct result of reallocating my time.

This all really boils down to, I took those jobs at CNN and truTV and now I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like for live performance.  I have an open offer to book a gig performing live guitar looping and electronic music at a yoga class in Tribeca but I am nowhere near ready.  I've written a few songs, I've got the set up going, it works, but there are too many parts for me to even imagine hauling it 11 stops on the R train to City Hall or even renting a vehicle for that amount of time for a gig that's going to be tips only.  There's no doubt I'm going to enjoy doing it and that the investment is going to be worth it on a personal enrichment level.  I have to try it and see how much fun I have but will something like that be sustainable for me in the long term?  I have musician friends who pick up and tour around the east side or even go to Europe for gigs and I wonder how they do it when I know these gigs don't pay well and they have to sell merch, stay with strangers, and hope people buy their CDs to stay out of the red.

You have to really love it.  That's the obvious answer.  And I love to quote Henry Winkler on this, "Do you need to do this thing that you've found, or does it just sound exciting."  It keeps coming back to that.  I'll be perfectly honest. I was not enjoying spending so much time and energy composing a piece of music for someone or some group to perform it, for it to be heard once (by fewer than 10 people) and there to be absolutely no monetary return on it.

But therein lies the problem.  You obviously have to do this stuff to meager audiences to get started.  And I did enjoy parts of it.  There was enjoyment happening somewhere in the process.  The nights Tania and I stayed up rehearsing, the moments when my electronic equipment worked perfectly, the few moments of applause, being on stage at Galapagos Art Space (a beautiful space if you haven't seen it); all of it moved me to remember why I did all of that.  And I had to not care if anyone enjoyed it, or noticed how groundbreaking or even just f*cking cool it was to mic a piano and sample it live.  And I had to not care that the video didn't come out all that well.  And I had to not care how heavy my equipment was.  And I had to shrug off the time in Harlem when the sound guy didn't even plug my laptop into the house system and I didn't notice until we were in the middle of the piece and nothing was happening.  And I had to forget all the other times that things didn't go as planned.  Because this is what I live for.  Making music and, yes, sometimes performing it or having it performed.  I'm most alive when I'm on stage or when I'm hearing my music being performed live.

And sure there are even other ways to make your money to offset the cost of doing these things.  And no, these things almost never make money.  But that absolutely cannot be the reason you are doing these things or you are seriously deluding yourself.   One thing I can say is that I've never had any delusions (at least not lately) that I could make a lot of money playing music.  I mean, my undergraduate piano professor hammered that point home pretty good (asshole).  All I've ever wanted to do was be able to keep doing it regardless.  Because I almost stopped once.  And I don't ever want to live like that again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

At bat...

Where have I been? Where even am I now? I'm sitting in the break room at NY1.  It's cold.  Winter has come early and with a force.  I'm hiding though the temptation to go outside and get real coffee is there.  A lot has changed this year and not just that I'm actually drinking coffee again.  But I got thinking yesterday and today about a specific moment in the evolution of a career.  When the realization comes over you that you might be finally stepping up to the plate.

A few years back now, I had a chance to submit my ideas for a 10 minute snippet of a documentary about nuns in Hong Kong in the early 1900s.  I was excited, overwhelmed even and, though I took the day off work to get the bulk of the work done, I feel like I didn't really grasp the significance of the opportunity.  I did take it seriously, that's for sure.  I knew I had to give it my all but I really just think I wasn't ready.

Fast forward to now.  I'm getting some more opportunities in voice over and I'm feeling paradoxically like I'm both more ready and more frightened to be at bat.  Maybe it's that I'm more frightened by the opportunity that tells me I'm more ready.  But I do hope to get past that.  Being confident that I can do this is winning out over being terrified that I'm not fit just yet.

On Sunday, I went to a screening of "True Love," the film I scored over the summer. The film is an offbeat comedy about two brothers who try to pick up a middle aged prostitute.  It was my first chance to really score a comedy and to actually make my music part of the joke in a lot of the scenes.  It came out really well and there some cues where the director added something after the fact that added to the laughs.  At one point, a slowed tape effect whenever two characters were about to kiss but were interrupted and a few other times to bring back the same trope to comedic effect.  In fact, the first time my underscore, which was based on the same idea as the opening title theme, came in, during the prostitute's dramatic telling of her backstory, the audience burst into laughter.  It's a heartfelt bittersweet piano piece with a string trio behind it, almost taking itself seriously but with a wink, to the extent that at the moment it comes in, it's a cue that the film knows that it's absurd.  It was such a treat to hear people reacting to my music.  Normally, in the film's I've scored, my music has a much subtler effect.

So, going forward this week with that triumph, I get an opportunity to read a documentary script at CNN, just so the producers can hear my voice (apparently it got back to them that I do voice overs).  At first I'm terrified, mostly of messing up and nothing coming of it but then, I'm terrified of something actually coming from it.  And then I'm out there and laid bare, standing in front of a packed auditorium in my underwear and free to be judged on my talents or lack thereof.  But then I go back in that booth and do a second take because I know enough to not be satisfied with my first take and because I'm confident that I can totally f*#$ing do this.

And no, nothing has come of it yet.  I was merely using that example to illustrate a point.

Hopefully soon, though, I'll be able to show you all clips from "True Love" with my music.  Stay tuned guys.  And stay warm.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Advice, plans...

My apartment is currently rather spartan.  Sounds echo off the walls.  It's the end of an era, as my cousin has moved out, leaving half the apartment empty, and I'm now awaiting the move in date of my first non family member/non-spouse roommate since senior year of college.  I've been lax about writing lately but have had a lot of things on my mind as the season changes.  Moving into a different head space on a lot of things.  Revamping plans and thinking about the future...the long future. 

It's a hard thing when you start to look at where you are and where you want to be in a decidedly arbitrary amount of time.  You start to feel overwhelmed and that you may never get there even though you've certainly made strides.  You have to sort of remind yourself that you certainly haven't been idle.  Look at what you've done so far.  Acknowledge it, pat yourself on the back.  It's hard. 

This advice, while here referring to the entire scope of my endeavors, was packaged amongst the advice I got slung my way by a voice over agent about a month ago.  My new voice coach has these classes where she'll have a slew of her students read for a chosen agent that she has a connection with.  This particular night I was the second to last person to read and it must've shown that I'd let my nerves take over.  I told her my voice over history in a nutshell, as the other students had done, maybe leaning a little too hard on the point that I had been frustrated with my lack of progress.  While she had some definite critiques for me, she was rather generous with her praise of my accomplishments.  So, I felt better and really brought my A game for the next agent a few weeks later.  That agent was a little hard to read unfortunately though. 

I really made a great choice picking up this coach.  Having been a casting director and an agent at one time or another herself, she has all sorts of remaining connections in the voice over world.  I've made the decision to have her help me spruce up my demo and vary it a bit so it's not all the same stuff and it has some range to it.  And then I'm going to show it to every agent she puts me in front of.  That's the best part about this new partnership honestly.  My coach knows I'm not just doing this for fun and has a plan to get me to a point where I can be a "big fish in a little pond," as she put it. 

This is part of the plan.  Yes. I have a plan.  It's multi faceted after all and both music and voice over play into it.  And it's even rather fluid as I keep checking in with it. 

With things seemingly falling apart all around me in the TV world (CNN just lost some people and Comcast is merging with Time Warner Cable), it's motivating me to really make a push to get things happening.  Music is on hold, it seems, except for the fact that I may be playing at a yoga class in a few months.  Ambient stuff, live looping the guitar and everything...been composing a little bit there too.  But, finding enough time to practice is proving a bit of a challenge. 

Nonetheless, the passion is still there.  There's talk of collaboration here and there, of finally getting a practice space with Brad, writing another piece with Tania (both were over at my apartment hanging out Saturday night).  And "The Life" remains a rather tentative yet exciting ball in the air.  The pitch bible for the first season and the pilot episode are about to be in the hands of some very influential people. I'll say no more. 

Ultimately, I'm hoping that voice over proves to be lucrative enough as to afford me more time to put into the music, so that I can bank on other things besides "The Life," and whatever the next Indie film is that comes along.  We shall see.  Again with the waiting.  Anyway, just some thoughts to let you know I'm still alive. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Steve Reich and Phillip Glass...

I got to see two legends in concert this week at BAM.  Steve Reich and Phillip Glass were playing together for the first time in 40 years so that was pretty big.  And the tickets fell into my lap.  Twice.  The first was a friend who reviews these concerts but it was on a night that I couldn't have attended because I got asked to come in on the night shift to cover the Democratic primary election. The next time, a day later, it was my dad's cousin who had an extra ticket.  This time I could make it but just barely.  So I made some shifts in my schedule to ensure I'd be able to both see the concert and have dinner with my cousin before the show.

We checked out this vegan restaurant on Atlantic Ave. called M.O.B. Please check it out even if you're not vegan.  It's spectacular and well worth it.  Two words: Vegan Cheesecake.  It's really good.

Afterward we headed over to BAM, grabbed a quick glass of wine and then took our awesome 8th row seats and waited for the show to start.  The first half was to be all Steve Reich and Musicians playing Steve Reich pieces (Four Organs and Drumming) and then Phillip Glass and his Ensemble took over for the last half, playing a slew of Glass tunes encompassing some of his film music and other pieces. I am admittedly not as familiar with Phillip Glass' music but I enjoyed it nonetheless.   This was apparently much anticipated as well.  The ensemble got a standing ovation both at the end and at the beginning when they first took the stage.

The first piece, Four Organs was fun to watch partially on account of Nico Muhly head banging and otherwise hamming up his performance, but also because you started to notice them all counting to themselves and really intensely focusing on the piece.  The piece starts with the percussionist in the center playing a steady pulse with the maracas for a few measure before all four keyboardists start hammering out chords on the organ.  Eventually though, as notes gets added here and there, and individual notes in the chords are held out longer by each different performer, the individual players start to deviate from each other and go out of sync with each other.  I'd seen it performed at least once before, once on that very same stage, but it was fun to see it from so close.  And it's just this wall of sound from the organs that blasts your face off.

On Drumming, something about listening to the overtones of the glockenspiels propagating in the space and the reflections of the bongos and marimbas off the back wall of the theater hitting your ear a half second late and messing with the perceived rhythm, was wholly mesmerizing.  The experience cannot be transmitted through a blog entry so I won't try.   Watching the musicians switch places and take over for each other really shows how grueling a piece it must be to play.  It's an hour long.  They cross the stage at one point, switching form pitched bongos to a row of marimbas, then eventually to the glockenspiels.  Near the end of the piece two female vocalists join the cacophony.

During the intermission, we snuck across the street to a bar called Berlyn, my cousin's little hack to avoid the line at the concession stand.  It worked out great because we had a drink in our hand within minutes and had plenty of time to get back to our seats before the lights went down.  Even had a sec to chat with the sound guy, whom my cousin knows before heading back in.

The last half of the show was all Phillip Glass whose ensemble consisted of percussion, saxophones, keyboards and a vocalist.  They played Music in Similar Motion to start, which I'd heard of, but never really heard.  It starts with just a ceaseless flowing line on organ which is joined by the saxophones part way through and builds to cacophonous splendor by the end.  Take a listen here.  The rest of the pieces were from his film scores and other works and were for the most part enjoyable though I was really starting to fade at this point...and I had to be up at 430am the next day for September 11th memorial coverage!

But it was well worth the fatigue to see these two greats on stage in such a historical concert.  I only wish I could have gone every night of the three they played.  I had to miss Music for 18 Musicians which is one of Steve Reich's seminal works.

I can't say I was all that tired though.  I got a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep and went straight through to my voice coaching session after work.  Which was fun as usual but I'm really starting to feel her challenging me...which means I'm definitely getting something out of it.  More on that in the next entry.  Gotta run for now!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A hiatus is not the end...

A hiatus is not the end.  A hiatus is not me just throwing in the towel for a while and maybe I'll get back to it.  A hiatus does not even mean it's a matter of time before I give it all up and find myself a respectable job and just keep my guitars around to remind myself I once aspired to be a professional musician.  Yes, occasionally, I have to remind myself of this.  When things seem like they're getting away from me. When I feel like all of my other responsibilities are taking over.  When I wonder when the next job will come my way.  When I wonder, if I could just be managing my time better, whether I could find the time to release an album, or submit some more tracks to the licensing agency...or even secure myself a decent job scoring an indie feature.

I'd love to be one of those composers who teaches and has time to compose things, release albums, play shows and book paying gigs back to back.  Who licenses his music for commercials and videos, who generally gets paid on a consistent basis and doesn't have to work a day job that sucks his time and his soul away.  Yes, those kinds of composers exist.  Maybe I don't know any of them except in passing, the stray informational interviews I've done over the years, meeting someone at a party or connecting through a friend.  Most of us, though, do tons of other things in addition, and just because my "other thing" is somewhat unrelated to music, it doesn't mean that if I have to focus on the other thing for a while, that the music is going to slip away from me.

I really do worry that it will though and that's why I have to remind myself.  Remind myself that I didn't just come up here to succumb to doing the sensible thing for the sake of comfort and stability.  Remind myself that the day job is important but that the aspirations are important too.

I needed to write tonight, guys.  It's been a while since I've submitted anything and watching the frequency of these blogs become less and less has troubled me a little.  I want to have spectacular news to talk about all the time but then, my tendency is toward cautious optimism these days.  When I do have things to report about the trials and conquests of being an aspiring film composer/voice over artist in New York City, I find that I want more to not jinx them than I do to share them necessarily.  

But more than anything I want to share these thoughts I'm having tonight.  That this hiatus feels particularly harrowing because I'm finding myself really needing to do something musical while I'm kind of also having to job hunt a little. My extra freelance work that I'd been depending on has dried up so that I'm subsisting on just the one job now.

I need that outlet though, the music.  I've started to practice piano again for my own personal enrichment, even written a few things and put them on SoundCloud and may have a chance to perform at some yoga classes soon. I am finding more time to submit voice over auditions and my new coach has shown that she has enough faith in me to submit me for voice over auditions that she's privy to during our lessons.  But booking the job is the hardest part there.  The new coach and I are working quite well together though and I'm feeling a lot more confident.  I should probably lean on that for a while and just accept that the music gigs will come.  And the harder I work at the voice over right now while I have this good coach in front of me, the more that's bound to pay off (literally).

I'd really much rather that I had the time to go and seek composing gigs out instead of waiting for one to come around.  But even that has to wait.  I've told myself that this is just temporary and that I will get back to it once day job land stabilizes a bit.  I mean, I have a financial plan now.  I'm a big boy and I pay my bills on time.  In another life I would have loved to have lived a Bohemian lifestyle in the East Village, scraping together rent money month by month, and doing nothing but playing music, but that's not as easy as it sounds from my current standpoint.

I can't imagine giving up the music altogether just for that level of comfort that everybody craves sometimes.  I meet people up here all the time that gave up acting or whatever monumental endeavor they came here for and they tell me they're happy not being part of the rat race anymore.  Whenever someone has to tell me they're happy though...I just wonder if they really are, or even if they really wanted it all that bad to begin with.  But I try not to judge.  Everyone has their path, their limits and maybe they are happier.  But you have to participate in a rat race just about everywhere you go, any industry, any job.  And if you just slide into a comfortable position at a job you have to pretend to like, and try to coast through the rest of your years until retirement, than what are you even doing?  I don't want that to be me.  I've told myself that even if I never make it to where the bulk of my income is from music gigs, I'm always going to be doing what I love.  I'll make sure of that.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hitting the ground running...

And we're back in.  Vacation was great, adjusting to the new work schedule has been smoother than I had imagined, and I just saw one of my favorite artists in concert at the Beacon Theater.  Tori Amos.  I could just die it was so good.  But we'll get to that.  Also, I just met with a new voice over coach for a consultation and I have good feelings about the future.

Every night now, I try to get myself into bed around 9:30 - 10:00pm and I wake up at 5:30am.  I spent my vacation sort of slowly acclimating myself to the schedule, because, let's face it, mountain sunrises in NC are worth waking up for.  That and everyone in the house was going to bed around 10pm anyway.  By the 1st of August, upon my return I had absolutely no problem getting up and going to work and surviving through the day without feeling tired.

Another aspect of my routine has changed as well, now that the Brooklyn Yogaworks studio is open.  A much shorter ride to class for starters but also, taking all evening classes has totally flipped my days on their side.  Now, I'm working first, then doing VO gigs, depending on the availability of auditions, and then going to yoga, eating dinner and going to sleep.

I'm looking forward to seeing how I'll manage the next music gig but now my focus has shifted back to VO until that comes along.  I mentioned an agent I was waiting to speak with only briefly a few weeks back, but didn't elaborate.  What happened was, right before my vacation, I got in touch with him and got some advice and pointers from him.  While it was mildly discouraging, I did glean a lot from the conversation and made sure I walked away from it with some clear direction for my next steps.  I pulled a few names from him of coaches I should work with, classes I should take.

So, I picked one that I researched pretty heavily and who had worked with Jane Lynch before and ultimately reached out to her after I was settled back in post vacation.  The consultation was yesterday and it went really well.  I went in there expecting to get torn apart because, after all, I'm well aware that there's something I'm lacking.  After speaking with the agent, it came clear that it's obvious to anyone in the business who hears my demo that I need more acting training.

I did not get torn apart however and in fact, had a lot of fun with the new coach.  She had me fill out paper work and whatnot and then we chatted a tiny bit about what I've done and she told me she can already hear what it is I need to work on.  So she stood me in front of a condenser mic hooked up to her iPad and threw some copy at me and I just dug in.  Her direction was not uncommon but something about the way she explained things made it sink in so much more quickly and before I knew it I was really nailing the copy, and incorporating all her directions with ease.  I think that impressed her and, as we were finishing up, talk turned to all the agents she'd like me to meet once we get working.  So I signed up for a package deal and a handful of coaching sessions over the course of the next month and a half, even marking my calendar for a day when one of these agents is going to be there specifically to listen to her other students.

Psyched doesn't even begin to describe it.  But, oh yeah, Tori was amazing.  And the Beacon Theater was an amazing venue.  She played only two songs off the new album and the rest were scattered from just about every other album, with a heavy selection from Little Earthquakes and From the Choirgirl Hotel.  I'd always heard about how her concerts are like a religious experience for some.  This crowd was no different.  The were appropriately boisterous during the wild parts but they always shut the f*ck up immediately after their outbursts because they, like me, wanted to hear every single note she sang.  For me, I was just on the edge of my seat listening, overcome with glee when she'd break into a favorite song of mine.  I've always found her melodies and vocalizations hauntingly beautiful.  A favorite moment from the show was her closing with Hey Jupiter.  Listen to the song, especially the part where she vocalizes at the end of the chorus in "oohs."  I almost cried it was so beautiful.  And just her up there singing and banging on her Bösendorfer alternately swiveling around to the keyboard behind her (at one point it was an organ they wheeled out during a changeover), sometimes playing both at the same time (she had a microphone at each instrument and would sustain a note at the end of the line as she switched mics to hilarious effect), occasionally slamming the lid back on the piano for emphasis (and scaring the shit out of most of us when she'd do it).  She even busted out a cover set in the middle of the show, including Faith by George Michael, Blue Jeans by Lana del Ray and Wicked Games by Chris Isaak.  Add a four song encore and I was satisfied.  One of the best concerts I've seen in my life.

There are other things on the horizon that I'll keep secret for now but I will mention that I have already secured my hotel reservation for Costa Dulce for next February, the real start of my trip planning.  For now, even though I don't work until 10am, I think I'm going to drift off to sleep and dream of being a voice over god.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Of labor.  Lots of labor. Lots of fruit.  I just came home to a shipment of wine from Naked Wines.  Joined, used the $100 voucher they reel you in with and now I have more wine than rack.  It's kind of a nice feeling.  I could get used to it.  My cup runneth over...quite literally.

So life is full and love is real.  Things that I've spent my short life on are starting to come to fruition.  But there is still work to be done.  Not now though.  Dear god.  Remember how I was saying I wouldn't have a day off for 50 days straight?  Between the rush of freelance hours at my two part time jobs, the film score and three VO gigs, I didn't stop except to take the day to go to a wedding on Long Island and a few days off to host a friend who might end up rooming with me in the fall.  But it's coming to an end a little sooner than I'd thought.  CNN wants to cover with staff before freelancers now so I end my streak early, as of this Saturday, but I'm not too terribly fussed about it. Heck, CNN has already secured me for another weekend morning in August.

But this week, not just wine but money came flowing in. Paid from a VO gig and all three jobs plus a bonus from NY1, a rather unexpected bonus that came with a raise. F*ck yeah.  Oh what a feeling.  And soon I get to take a vacation to see my family and when this film score is done in less than a week (I confidently predict), I will be getting the final payment from that.

This film score I've slaved so diligently over for the past month and a half.  I love scoring comedy, I've found.  When I can make it work.  I got thinking about process the other day while watching a video on YouTube the other day with Mark Isham, composer on such films as Crash, Point Break, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and The Mechanic.  He was talking about his process and I got thinking about how mine tends to differ with each director and their personal style.  I've worked with some directors who couldn't care less what I wrote and are tickled with anything I send them, and, while offering little direction, just let me have free reign.  Others are very particular, going so far as to ask me to emulate a rhythm they have in their head.  Others let me do my thing but only after we've discussed in detail where the music should go...then they come in and say they want me to move this note or that note or change this chord or that.  I can't decide which method I like best.  I think a huge part of me is just so damn giddy to have this work that I dive in and do whatever they tell me (within reason, of course).

Mark Isham talks in this clip about how his method works.

What stands out to me is that he asks that directors just leave him alone for 2-3 weeks.  I do enjoy that when they let me have free reign to just come up with my ideas in a vacuum.  At the same time, though, sitting down with a director and hearing what their notions about the film and each individual scene when they wrote and shot it is immensely helpful.  The director I was working with on this film, "True Love," will do that but he also will ask me what I think about certain scenes...not just what music I think should go where but things like, "did this certain emotion or plot detail come across," "did you follow this scene," "can you tell what this character's motivation is."  And he will listen to my input.  These are the moments when the director can tell me something very specific about what he needs the music to do but I can also listen for something that he may not be explicitly saying and derive an understanding of the scene that's totally my own and may take the scene to a whole new place.

I love what Isham says at about 4 minutes in about finding that one scene that "defines the overriding communication of the film" and just starting from there.  It's a brilliant idea, even just when writing a composition.  To start where you'd like the piece to peak and work up to that.  To know where it's going first.  In a way, it's a bit like rocket science.  You have to decide where you want your rocket to go first and then do the math to figure out how much fuel you need and how much acceleration you need to refine your trajectory and hit your target, be it the moon or the ISS, or low Earth orbit.  

In a short film, it's a little different because all the exposition, character development and resolution happens in such a short amount of time that you may not have enough time to really flesh out any thematic material in such a cinematic way but there is definitely still an arc.  Wow, arc = parabola, trajectory...this metaphor of rocket science and film scoring is a pretty good one.  I think I'll stick with it for a bit.

Anyway, the way I scored this film was by sitting down with the director and talking about the individual scenes and, since it's comedy, there were a lot of moments of parody where the score was highly instrumental (no pun intended) in getting the laugh.  The pivotal sort of "characters are changing" moments, were all kind of compressed into a montage scene that I scored with a techno dance beat that incorporated some distorted guitar that built in layers until the scene ended.

There was a little bit of talk about making the whole cohesive in some way between the underscore, the main title theme and all the bits of electronic dance-y pop music that sort of would take you out of the moment to get a laugh and remind you that it was a comedy.  Ultimately though, the only real cohesion was between the title theme and the underscore in a few of the scenes.  The rest of the score ended up being pop and rock influenced styles that in some other, more commercial films, may have been covered by source music or other licensed pre-recorded tracks. But it all works and I'm pretty happy with it.

Tomorrow I record a violin player friend of mine and push the final mixes through by next week. It's great to be working like this again.  And it's so great to have a vacation on the horizon.  For now, I need to, you guessed it, get some sleep.  More soon!