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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. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Productive...

Nothing like a productive Monday to put me in the mood for a late night glass of wine.  This Rioja I picked up a few weeks ago...pretty damned good.  And why not?  I got so much done in a day.  Started off with a quick breakfast of fried over easy and toast and out the door early to drop some clothes off at Goodwill in Downtown Brooklyn, then off to the best yoga class I've had in a while with the inimitable Holly Ramey.  Something about deep twists and creative sequences and just the right amount of balance poses and add to that my frame of mind and a nice sit before class, I was on cloud nine.  Perfect way to start up the day.  Got to catch up with a yoga friend on my way out the door and then I was off.  Cooked lunch at home and then sat down and proceeded to write three more cues for "The Life" to add to the one I started yesterday.  Got to work on time, emailed the director and producer the spotting notes and the cues thus far and finished out my shift at NY1.

Now I'm back and still wide awake.  My co worker at NY1 says to me this evening, "I don't know how you find the time."  I don't either.  But the fact that I do find the time, gives me a great deal of faith that we'll be able to get some music put together before this thing gets screened in Boston in two weeks.  I'm going to have to clear my schedule just a little bit but we should be fine.  I think, since we're all in agreement that the edit still needs some work, that we're not even going to try to get this thing perfect before this first screening but they did ask me, since we have time, to put together at least a few music cues.  I went ahead and spotted the whole thing, like I said the other day, and now I wait to see what we'll focus on actually covering.  It's exciting.  The main title sequence is in the works now too, so I'm getting to see what that's going to look like with my music.  The director was nice enough to have my credit for "Original music by" come on screen right when the song goes into the guitar solo.  Epic.

So, fit to burst with excitement in just getting to work again but also not getting too far ahead of myself.  It is nice to envision the finish line every once in a while but you gotta keep running to get there.

On another note, had a great time this weekend and saw two great shows on top of going to a yoga workshop with two of my friends from the Nicaragua trip on Saturday (good to see them again but the workshop was crowded).  After the workshop though, I was off to Four Tet at Terminal 5 on Saturday night (epic set), at which I made a new friend, a musician from Cleveland who had won tickets and came to the city on a whim (with no second person to take his second ticket), and then Stephane Wrembel at Barbés on Sunday night (yet again, never gets old) for which I tried to get said new friend to join me but, being new to the city and not knowing the trains, he wound up in Queens by accident and resigned himself to heading back to the AirBnB where he was staying. But then I made more friends at Barbés just hanging out by myself, almost all of them musicians themselves.  One of whom plays in an awesome French fusion reggae band here in the city called DecaDence. They're pretty frickin' awesome. 

All around, times are good these days.  And I'm heading into the long week with a good feeling...which is a lot better than most Mondays.  So, onward and upward. 


Friday, February 21, 2014

Spotting...

I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna start another blog entry with "It's late and I should be sleeping..." So here goes:

It's late and I should be sleeping.  But honestly, when you've got Nicaraguan rum and Jamaican style ginger beer and a head full of hope and thoughts of the future, it's hard to settle down.  Plus I had some work to do.  It's probably a little too soon, as the final cut has not been polished, but I've been spotting for "The Life." Mostly independently of the director and the production team so far, but George and I have chatted a tiny bit about it.

My process is usually this: (and I've gotten some of this from a lot of industry people who say this is their method, and it works for me)

I start by just watching the film/movie/episode/whatever one time through without any thoughts about music.  Then I add a second viewing where I'm also not writing anything down but I let thoughts about music start to creep in...incidentally this is why I hate it when editors put in temp music...most of the time.  It messes with my conception.  I couldn't get a Latin vibe out of my head for an early feature film I scored about 10 years ago because the director himself had put some canned Latin loops in the opening scene.  Anyway, on the third viewing I actually make notes about what scenes can use music, coming up with names like "So and so takes a walk in the park" which sometimes end up as the actual title of said music cue.  Still no time codes at this point, though.  This is the point at which I like to sit down with the director and ask their thoughts and usually get shot down on a few things.  Then and only then do I actually sit down and start riffing while watching the film...quite possibly the funnest part of all.  This is when it really starts to take shape.  Incidentally, I really like it when a director has strong opinions about where and when and how music should go...okay, not always how.  Sometimes I just want them to let me do my thing.  But you can't have it your way all the time. 

Further refining of ideas comes and then I start to nail down starting and ending time codes so it's not all "music stops when so and so walks out of frame."  Then it comes down to actual production which is where the real magic happens, the fun part.  Who am I kidding?  It's all fun. That's why I do this.  And why I've been dying to get started on this project. 

In my spare moments over the past few weeks, while I've waited, I've started to dream up my next vacation.  And yes, it's to Nicaragua. Again.  But I've been approaching it with the same zeal with which I approached the trip to France I planned in 2007 for my parents and my aunt.  After all, planning is so much fun!  Maybe that's why I also like the planning stages of composing a film score.  I like organization.  But at the same time, I love that feeling of uncertainty right before implementation.  That "how is this going to go?"  That fear of failure and desire for success.  It's positively exhilarating.

The Nicaragua trip won't take place until next January more than likely (because it's contingent upon my accrual and usage of vacation hours) but I have my sights on an island comprised of two volcanoes, one active, one extinct, in Lake Nicaragua called Ometepe that a co worker informed me about.  I found this site which I have fully digested now, and through which I've almost chosen a hotel.   I also plan on starting the whole trip back at the Apoyo Lodge on the Apoyo crater lake because they host three day yoga retreats there all year round.  Then, I go to Ometepe and hike to a crater lake where I can swim, explore the island and take in the petroglyphs and then, when I'm fully exhausted, I get Gonzalo to meet me in San Pedro and drive me back to Casa Ola where I will stay for the remainder of my time...and finally learn to surf. 

It's gonna be one incredible year leading up to all that though.  It has to be. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Do you need to do this thing that you do?

The snow has piled up yet again, another layer on top of layer after layer of crusty snow, melted and refrozen god knows how many times.  On the rooftops and the sidewalks, the fire escapes and subway stairs, icicles and slush puddles, slicked over spots on the pavement, almost invisible until you lose your footing and realize you're still just one bad step away from finally wiping out, because you know it's going to happen eventually.  This is winter in New York City.  This is what I knew I was in store for but, admittedly, had idealized in my mind. 

Whatever, I'm over it.  I totally forgot to mention that as of a week ago I've been here 5 solid years.  Positively unflappable amongst the series of hard knocks it took to get here because let's face it, at the end of the day, I'm still having the time of my life. Anything is better than the suburban hell I almost found myself in (no offense to suburbia), but this is still my dream, and more than I could have hoped for or imagined myself doing, as recently as 7 years ago.  Even not having made it yet, just having the opportunity to give it everything I've got is something.

I read an article today in this week's New York magazine about Lupita Nyong'o, who's probably going to win an Oscar this year for "12 Years as a Slave," (which I've yet to see) and what stood out to me was a quote from Ralph Fiennes, with whom she spoke when she worked as a production assistant on the set of "The Constant Gardner" when they filmed in Kenya (where she's from).  "If there's something else you want to do, do that. Only act if you feel you can't live without it."  I've heard some version of this multiple times, in reference to difficult careers in show business; once from the great Henry Winkler the summer I worked as a TA at a Chapman University summer course on filmmaking, through Duke University's TIP program, when he spoke to our students and said, "Do you need to do this thing that you do? Or does it just sound exciting?"  Another time was during my interview for graduate school, only it was phrased more as a statement.  My soon-to-be composition instructor said that film scoring wasn't an easy path.  Without flinching or even thinking about my response, I shot back, "I'm not doing it because it's easy.  I'm doing it because I have to." Or some such haughty response. 

And I meant it.  I'd die without this.  I almost did.  And I don't mean keel over.  I mean, die inside.  I'd be living, but for what?  Do you know that what this career path, this lofty goal of mine does is sustain me?  Up until my battle with depression got to its worst, I hadn't really considered that.  But once I hit rock bottom and I realized that I wasn't taking it seriously and it was slipping away from me, something switched on inside me and I knew I had to change my path.  Otherwise the depression would have swallowed me whole and spit out an empty shell.  I had to do something different.  Sadly, it wasn't until my divorce that I was met face to face with how flippant I'd been, how casual about the whole thing I'd been.  I saw that I was the only thing standing in my way at that point was me.  Indeed the only thing that had ever been in my way was me. 

I won't say that I still don't battle with myself and with all the negative thoughts that creep up.  This is a hard career path, and such a small percentage of people who pursue it make something of themselves.  But to be honest, I've gotten realistic about it.  I don't want fame and an Oscar so much as I just want to be able to sustain myself with it.  And I know I can.  I have confidence.  Something that was lacking before.

And I have a good feeling about this year and all the opportunities cropping up.  If I believed in a jinx, I'd shut up and not say so much about what's in store but I'll start with this morning when I got a call about a promising sounding voice over audition out of the blue. Add to that, "The Life" is picking up momentum and I'll be scoring the pilot episode very soon.  There are others I won't speak of, not so much in the interest of not jinxing myself but to not get too far ahead of myself.  Because that's important too.  For the psyche.  The idea is minimizing the negative effects of disappointment by not getting my hopes up in the first place.  At least not too far up.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Like a composer...

Today I felt like a composer...and now I drink beer and write.  I have to be up tomorrow for the marathon day at both jobs, back to back, that I've been doing, to some degree, every week since end of April last year, but not until 8am...which is standard.  Really, I get up around 8 or 830 every day of the week.  If it's not work it's yoga.

So that leads me back to that whole bit about "time carving."  I decided some time earlier this week, before I even knew that I'd be able to move forward on the music for the trailer, that I should really just start setting aside music and VO days even when I don't have any current projects, and forego, one day out of my week, a yoga class that takes up two and a half to three hours of my time, factoring in the commute.  I did so today and I still had time to practice yoga this morning before getting started and I was able to sleep in until 9am...shit, I even snoozed.  And I meditated before hand, something I only manage to do otherwise if I make it to Yogaworks early enough before class starts that I can do it in the empty studio before anyone shows up.

Add to that, in addition to becoming a founding member of the Brooklyn Yogaworks studio (when it opens in a few months), I got a free six month subscription to their online yoga videos (which only costs $5 a month thereafter in addition to my membership fee).  Now, I should be more inclined to actually practice at home on these music and VO days.  And why the hell not?  I still thirst for that glorious routine that I cultivated on the retreat.  What an amazing thing to practice that much yoga, that consistently!

Back to the music, I feel so much more satisfied if I'm also pushing forward on music and VO stuff instead of just simply staying fit and making it to work on time.  At any rate, while I was at it, I managed to work up an extension of the music for the trailer today (which I tweaked even more later on at work), in order to cover the title card and credits that were added after the whole trailer was edited to mine and Amanda's song.  I can't wait until we post it for you guys to see.  It's looking and sounding great.

Otherwise, I'm back tweaking all the random mixes that I started up last year with the intent of submitting them to the licensing agency I signed with.  What the hell was I doing all damn year not submitting to them?  Oh yeah, chasing down a VO agent and working my ass off at three jobs.  Well anyway, that's why I reassess my goals and my methods every once in a while.  I've already marked off some time on Sunday for rearranging some of my voice demos and planning next steps etc.

But I digress.  The music for the licensing agency.  There are about 12 or 13 mixes floating around, unnamed and ready to be developed.  Plus, I'm thinking up new stuff all the time and I just need to be also sitting at my Macbook messing around and recording that stuff so that I can actually hope to complete something.  The good thing is, I've decided that one of those "mixes" (as yet unnamed), is ready to go...ish.  I need to extend it to a 60 second version.  Which shouldn't take too long at all.

With all that in mind, I need to sleep a little.  Marathon day tomorrow, remember?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stressed out...

I've been stressed out since I got back and I'm just now noticing it.  Stomach's off kilter, constantly feel like I'm about to be sick.  I find myself obsessing over goals and getting things done. The notion of financial stability, or some semblance thereof being so close, is driving me positively mad.  Things are feeling up in the air, unfinished.  I'm on the brink of several things career-wise and I'm just waiting for things to happen.  A part of me doesn't want to think they're a done deal until they actually are a done deal...so dealing with the wait has got me all twisted up.  And holy crap Celiac!  My freaking stomach already, wtf?!

Okay, I got that part out.  But honestly, haven't I been talking about breaking free and just working freelance for a while now?  I've always had a list of "do firsts" to accomplish before I would let myself make such a leap.  Things like financial stability, things like debts being paid off.

But then, there's always that notion that if I'm too comfortable I won't push myself hard enough to succeed.  My dad even said that to me to convince me to house sit and live rent free with them while I saved for the move here five years ago (yes, coming up on five years now).  I would have potentially gotten comfortable in Greensboro, had I rented an apartment and gotten a job there to save up for New York.  Living with them, I'd've been vastly more uncomfortable (in fact, I slept on a couch for the nine months I lived there) and the thought of moving out eventually and to New York would constantly have been tugging at me.  It was a highly compelling point then as it is now.

While I wouldn't characterize myself as particularly comfortable right now, the point is, yes, if I absolutely had to scrape together freelance music and VO gigs to cover the amount of my monthly expenses than I could probably would push myself a lot harder.  And I would basically have to keep going at it.  And I would also have loads more time to devote to it.  I've thought this countless times.  Only now, I think I would probably have a slightly easier time freelancing than at any point during the last five years.

This is all just stuff for me to think about.  I'm not making any moves next week or anything like that...but I do want to revisit it and really think it over.  It might have something to do, as well, with the fact that this article just popped up in my feed.