As Long as There’s Movement (And Harry Potter)

It’s not okay how long it’s been since I’ve updated the blog so I’m fixing that today. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to begin writing, but life always seems to have a way of interrupting the normal flow of things. The period of time between Easter and now has been full of so many stories, where do I even begin?

Leading up to my last blog post, I was working on music that I was submitting to the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop. I had finished my five entry pieces and submitted them for review. I was told that sometime in May we would receive word either way on whether or not we were accepted into the workshop. Well on May 25th, word finally came in. Unfortunately my work was not accepted into the workshop. This is the letter I received.

Dear Composer:

Thank you very much for your recent application to the 2012 ASCAP
Television & Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis.

Each year the quality of submissions has increased dramatically among
the several hundred we receive, thereby making it more difficult to
select the final twelve participants. Your submission was reviewed by
qualified professionals, including some of the top composers in film
and television. Unfortunately this year, we regret that we cannot
invite you to attend this year’s workshop. However, we strongly
encourage you to apply again next year and thank you for your
interest.

Even though you prepare for this outcome whenever you enter any sort of competition, it’s never easy to be rejected from anything. I feel this was important though. To be honest, I’ve never been rejected from anything big regarding music yet. Strangely I just happen to apply to various things knowing full well I have no chance (like the Pete Carpenter Fellowship) and then I get accepted. I remember one of my posts very near the beginning of this blog I mentioned that it’s a nice feeling when all you hear are praises of your work, but it’s the criticisms that force you to adapt, grow and push yourself into areas that maybe you never would have ventured had everyone always told you that what you’re doing is great and never to change it. So looking at this now, I feel good about the situation, but it’s safe to say that like any other rejection, I wasn’t feeling so hot after getting the news. It’s a big part of why I stopped writing for a few weeks. At that time I felt like I needed to justify myself as a composer again. Even though it’s irrational, rejection makes you wonder if you’re really good enough, and if you really have what it takes to make it.

So I spent the next few weeks trying to get back into the spirit of writing, which was a challenge in and of itself. I had been holding off calling or emailing composers because of the ASCAP event just in case they wanted to meet during the time I’d be at the workshop if I had won. Now that that time is no longer in question, I have started messages all my contacts again. A piece of advice that I was given during my visit with Chris Beck was that I need to be persistent while making calls. He said (and he meant this with no offense) that I’m forgettable. What he meant is the fact that the people I’m trying to get in touch with have full careers and very busy schedules so chances are they’re not going to remember the one guy trying to break into the industry. I need to remind them, so it’s not considered rude to be persistent. With that I began sending emails and making calls again. During that time, I did get another email out of the blue from Robert Kral asking me which music software I was familiar with. Robert emails me from time to time asking me questions like that, so I’m hoping he’s slowly doing some research on me. I also heard back from Adam Berry who would like to schedule a phone meeting middle of August to discuss music and my path through the industry. After hearing back from some people, I was beginning to feel more inspired to get back into my writing swing.

A while back I mentioned a project that I was starting just for fun with an illustrator I met through Apple. We wanted to make a spoof off of Star Trek and combining that with Apple. We met a few times and I came up with a potential Main Title theme to that project. I wanted to make it sound very cliche and a bit old school as this is a spoof at the end of the day. I still may make some adjustments on it at some point, but here is the main title to Apple Trek:

 

      Apple Trek Main Title


 

Early in June I was asked to demo some music for a potential Nike Commercial that was being made providing the Thunder won the playoffs. The music was to start off soft and kind of ironic to what was happening on screen, and moving into a more intense feel towards the end. Sadly the Thunder did not win so that commercial will not be aired. I was pretty happy with those tracks so here are the 3 versions I did for Nike:

 

      Nike Thunder 1


 

 

      Nike Thunder 2


 

 

      Nike Thunder 3


 

Later that month was my birthday. I turned 25 on June 23 and as a gift my parents got me tickets to come home to Connecticut for a week. I hadn’t been since I moved out so I was beyond excited for the chance to see everyone again. The week went by faster than I thought but I was able to reconnect with all my close friends and family and had an absolute blast.

You may remember a few months back I mentioned that I wrote a demo Harry Potter track for a group of guys making a short film in the Harry Potter universe. That film is finally ready for scoring and I have been asked officially to do the music for it. The project is an episodic series following Sirius Black during the years James and Lilly Potter are still alive. Episode One is called Sirius Black and the Secret Keeper.

Here is the official synopsis of the episode.

“The Death Eaters are closing in and The Order of the Phoenix are fighting on the losing side of the first Wizarding war. Lord Voldemort will stop at nothing to capture James and Lily Potter who are in hiding with their newborn son, Harry. A life changing fatal mistake is made when Sirius Black over hears the prophecy from his deranged cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange and suggests to his best friend James Potter changes their secret keeper, forever twisting the fabric of wizarding history.”

A selection from the first episode will debut at the Ascendio Harry Potter Convention in Orlando Florida this month. I’m very excited to be working on this project. This is a very dark series so I’m being asked to write some very disturbing and dramatic music for the series which I don’t often get a chance to write so I feel very honored to be included on a long term series like this.

Composers don’t often get a lot of time to work on film scores. Usually on a major film, a release date is chosen before the film is even made. A composer can’t score to picture until everything has been filmed and edited, so they are the last ones to work on a film. This project is the same in that the finished video must be submitted by July 10th and the picture was just locked a couple days ago, so I have about 10 days to do the score for this episode. This will serve as a great learning experience and simulate the kind of deadlines a real working composer is under during a project. But then again, this is a real project, so it’s really not a simulation but an actual job! We are previewing the first seven minutes of the film for Ascendio and I have about five minutes sketched out so far. Everything is extremely rough at this point and nothing has been mixed, but I’d like to give you all a sneak peak at a portion of the score. This segment is part of a scene where Sirius is about to attempt a rescue of two members of the Order of the Phoenix. Enjoy!

 

      Secret Keeper Sneak Peek


 

I’ve been waiting for so long to finally have an opportunity to do a dramatic, high intensity score so I’ve been pouring everything into this one. I hope you like what you heard so far.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of news at you already, but there’s one last thing that happened very recently. Months and months ago I had a wonderful phone conversation with Greg Smith, who does a lot of work for Disney, including all of the commercials and much of the music heard throughout the parks like the fireworks show. After our conversation he asked me to send him some music of mine which I promptly did. Now he’s an extremely busy guy because he does all his work with no help, so it always takes him a long time to get back to me, but he always does. A couple months after sending him my stuff, I reached out to him to see if we could speak again. He got back to me and told me that he would be unreachable until summer but we would definitely talk again then. So I hunkered down and got back to my life and right before my Connecticut visit, I emailed him to see if he had freed up a bit. Well last week we were finally able to have our second phone conversation. He asked me what I had been up to and told me that he had listened to all the music I sent him. He said I was a very capable composer with a mature sound and a good handle on writing for orchestra. We both have very similar origin stories and college experiences so we shared a lot in common. He also asked me about my skills in writing for live players. Honestly, our conversation felt a bit like an interview. By the end he told me that in August we should meet in person! He’d love for me to come to his place and we can both share our music and discuss how we put it together and do a critique session. He also mentioned that the fact I work for Apple is of use to him because he uses Apple computer for his music but would also love to know more. He’s getting to a point where he needs help from someone to share some of his responsibilities with. So while trying to stay as grounded in reality as I can, I can’t help but be incredibly excited that there may be some work in the future. Now he never said outright that there’s even a position available, but we’ve been building this great working relationship over the last months and I feel like we’re really getting somewhere. This will be an incredibly long month, but come August, things may begin moving quite fast.

So I hope this brings you up to speed. I’ll try to keep things more up to date now and as more happens with our Sirius Black project, I’ll be posting more things for you. Stay tuned! This blog isn’t over, and I feel that it may be only just beginning!

Leave a Reply