Can There Be An Upward Spiral?

Tuesday I went to a meeting with Corbin to discuss the remainder of notes he had for the film. He likes to do things in person, and frankly so do I because a lot of creative direction can be lost when you only communicate over emails. Driving up I was nervous and pessimistic because in his email asking if we could meet that day, he told me he had a lot of notes for me, so I was under the impression that I had done a lot wrong.

When I arrived I was told that Corbin was going to be a bit late because he was at an ADR session at another studio. ADR stands for Additional Dialogue Recording. Sometimes during a film there’s a lot of noise on set, or the microphones didn’t get a good recording of a scene, so the actors will come in later on and re-record their vocals. That’s what was happening that day. So I hung around the studio for a while. Home Theater Films is a really cool place. It’s full of props and photos from Corbin’s films as well as other shows or movies he’s been in. After a bit, Corbin arrived and we got started.

As it turned out there were far fewer notes than I had thought, and many of them were really minor. This being a family comedy, there are a lot of specific moments that Corbin really wanted to highlight. Those highlights are called stingers. On quite a few of the notes, he told me to keep the music as is, and just add a few stingers to certain moments of the scene. There were only two big areas that needed a lot of work. The first section was an area where I was asked to write my own version of some music from the Nutcracker Suite. Corbin used two pieces from the Nutcracker in the film that I had to create and he originally wanted me to change it up a little bit. He was very happy with the music I came up with but the problem was the scene the songs go in was edited to a specific recording of that song, so while my version is very close, they really wanted it to match that temp version they used. It’s going to be a bit of a rewrite, but the music is all there, so I’m not terribly concerned about it. The second big section is regarding the ramp up to the end. You may remember a few posts ago I added a song that I described as the montage of when the family comes together for the first time, so I wrote this sentimental, upbeat sort of tune. The vision for that scene has changed a bit. The second half of the film has a bit of a Home Alone vibe and so this scene in which I wrote the music as sentimental, Corbin now wants more of a preparing for battle kind of song, so a bit more driving and aggressive. The good news is that Corbin liked the song I wrote so much that he wants to use it for the end credits, so the work on it has not gone to waste. Other than that, the only other changes he wants are for me to extend music further into scenes because it works well in that scene. I can’t complain about being asked to write more music, so everything seems pretty good there. Now all I need to do is become a model of quality and efficiency because on Monday the 20th, everything needs to be completed. That means all the music needs to be finished, all the changes need to be approved and all the music needs to be mixed and sent off in two days.

After the meeting about the cues, Corbin and I spent some time talking about music in general and future projects. Here’s something you should know about me: I’m terrible at taking compliments. I always have been. Corbin was telling me how much he liked the sound of this film and asked me how much it would cost to get a live orchestra to record future soundtracks. I told him that with this being my first real feature, I have no knowledge of the live recording realm. He asked me to do some research on it so that on future films we could use a live orchestra! I told him I would because I’d love to do more projects with him, and here’s what he told me. “We love your music so we’ll have you keep doing our films until we can’t afford you anymore”. This man has more years of film experience than I’ve been alive so I’m not great at thinking these moments in my life are real. Corbin said he thinks I’ll be big faster than I imagine it will take. This is already a bit much to consider. In the composing world, you so often need to pay your dues, and work as an assistant to another composer for years before you start getting your own films. You also hear advice that you want to get a director to “buy into you” so you start doing all their films. I seem to have jumped a few steps here (maybe I blacked out) because based on our last meeting, it looks like I’ll be doing many future films for Corbin, and we’ll try to get live orchestras to record them. Needless to say I’m a bit overwhelmed by all this.

After that bombshell, Corbin told me that there’s another film that he wants me to take a look at. It’s already been filmed so they’re close to the scoring stage. He said this film is very important to him because he wants the music to actually be like a character in the film, so it has its own agenda rather than always following what’s going on in the scene. He showed me a few minutes from the film and it looks fascinating. I’d love to get my hands on this project.

So that’s where I am now. I have a lot of work to cram into the next few days to finish this soundtrack, then building and testing a completely new music rig that I’ll be creating with the paycheck from this film. After that I’ll be researching what it takes to record a soundtrack with live players. Late in September I’ll be accompanying Greg Smith to a recording of an orchestra for Disney Tokyo so I’ll be able to ask him the costs associated with it. Then I guess I’ll be preparing for this next movie. When did I get so busy, and how did this happen?

Well it’s off to work for me. Wish me luck to hit the deadline, and check back in next week as I may have some music from the film up on the site. Happy weekend everyone!

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