Summer of Spielberg
For your viewing pleasure, I offer this - a recent project of mine! I was delighted when Wayne Carter and Darren Johnson at the Atlantic Film Festival asked me if I would write music for their Summer Outdoor Film Experience series this year. I was *doubly* delighted when they told me that this was going to be the Summer of Spielberg! Anyone who knows me at all (or has glanced at some of my blogs) knows that I recognize John Williams as the undisputed master of the modern film score, and would argue that he was (almost) never better than when working with his most frequent collaborator, Steven Spielberg. So, the task before me was to write music that would capture the excitement of Spielberg classics while at the same time honouring even a fraction of that epic, Williamsesque feel. I am no John Williams (hell, I'm not even Paul Williams, let alone Andy or Vanessa), and neither is my setup the London Symphony Orchestra, but I tried my best to make my little digital plug-ins give this wonderful mashup, created by Jenna MacLeod, a bit of a kinetic rush. With images this rapturous, my job was half done!
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Happy New Year everyone! In looking back at the year that’s already vanishing in our wake (BAM! we’re in the latter half of January already!), I find myself thinking about the wonderful people I’ve gotten to work with this past year, and the remarkable opportunities I’ve had. So, before diving into the new year and the opportunities it promises, I thought I should mention some of 2012′s highlights (and accompanying “Thank Yous”), which include several “firsts”:
1. First of all, I have to say, I had a VERY busy summer, and for a big chunk of that busy-ness, I have to send my first massive thank you to director Michael Ray Fox, producer Rich MacQueen, and executive producer Michael Melski, for granting me the opportunity to score my first feature film, Roaming. Roaming follows a young man named Will, as he navigates his way through the struggles that many young people face (most notably around relationships and careers). What makes his struggle all the more compelling is that he also happens to be living with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
It’s a charming little ensemble piece, is currently making the festival circuit, and is also an award-winner! Rhys Bevan-John, who plays Will, recently won an ACTRA Martimes award for his performance. If Roaming screens near you, do check it out! Below are a few tracks from the film, including the opening credits and music underscoring a scene later in the film where we watch Will pursue his passion, creating video games. All these tracks capture something, I think, of the awkwardness and drifting melancholy of this unique character. I won’t ruin the story by telling you any more, but please enjoy the tunes!
2. The summer of 2012 brought other new opportunities as well, so a big shout out of thank you to Mr. Tim Perry at theREDspace, who brought me on board to compose music for their game Contraption Max. This was a venture into terra incognita for the team – they have a wealth of experience developing games and applications for other clients (including Comedy Central, Harper Collins, Nickelodeon, and YTV) but had never developed an entire product in-house from conception to delivery. The game will be ready for unveiling some time later this year, but you can find some more information about it here. Below are a few samples of tracks written for different game levels.
3. Another first! Thank you to Lisa Phinney Langley and Ardath Whynacht from PHIN Performing Arts for the opportunity to create a soundscape for a dance project, something I’ve not done before! This past October, they created an original piece for Halifax’s one-night-only arts festival, Nocturne. Based on both historic events and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”, “Oh, Green Hill” was a dance piece based on a dark chapter of Halifax history. In 1866, passengers of the S. S. London suffered an outbreak of cholera, and were quarantined on Green Hill, located on McNabb’s Island in Halifax Harbour. Ardath’s spoken word component of the piece interpolated contemporary journalist’s reports of the event with lines from Poe’s work to create a verbal mosaic capturing both the suffering of the plague victims and the cold, willful ignorance of both Prince Prospero and the authorities who sentenced 200 of The London‘s passengers to a lonely death in clear view of what must have seemed to be an uncaring New World.
The dance, performed by Sarah Rozee, Lisa Phinney Langley, Veronique MacKenzie, Kym Butler, Sheilagh Hunt, and the Young Company of Halifax Dance was an eerie evocation of the passengers death throes, and it felt very much at the time as if their restless spirits were haunting Parade Square. It was a very effective performance, especially after dark, as the Autumn chill started to settle in. Here’s a small sample of the soundscape that accompanied their performance.
4. Thanks also to the mighty directing and producing duo of Vicki Donkin and Colin Tanner! Their dark little fable of seedy hotel room trysts Irene was a pleasure to score, and gave me the opportunity to explore some fairly dark and disturbing textures. After a successful screening at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival, the film is travelling in February to The Dam Short Film Festival, in Boulder City, Nevada (somewhat fittingly, given the film’s subject matter, just outside Las Vegas). Here’s a taste of Irene:
5. My final “first”, and thank you once again goes to the PHIN gals Lisa and Ardath, who placed a not-inconsiderable amount of trust in me not just once, but twice this year! Prior to the Nocturne piece, I was asked to edit some music composed by the estimable Sageev Oore (with spoken word elements written by Ardath) for a dance piece entitled “Analogy for Solid Bones”, which was performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in July. If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that the creation of music for dance is possibly even more seat-of-the-pants than film scoring, as there can be a lot of sudden changes and deletion and rejigging of elements – exciting stuff, and I’m thrilled to have been given the chance to work on something like this! Here is a video sample of an earlier version of the piece – it’ll give you a sense of both the skills that Lisa and her company bring to bear and a taste of Sageev’s music.
6. There’s something unique coming your way in 2013, but it’s origin goes back nearly a year! I am an associate member of a very fine organization, Women in Film and Television Atlantic (I cannot, for biological reasons, be a full member – due to my eye colour, maybe?). As a gesture of support to the group, I was a sponsor for their “Women Making Waves” conference last year, and donated time to work with a door prize winner on a film of her choosing. The winner (supposedly) was Dawn George…and I say “supposedly” parenthetically because the fact that I have gotten to work with her has left me feeling like I came out much further ahead than her. Her film “Adaptation” will be unveiled in the coming months, and is a fascinating piece about the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – ways that our environment might be changing us. I will save the pleasure of discovery for another time, but Dawn has allowed me to share a few seconds of music for the film…this has been a fun project, full of lots of improvised juxtapositions of odd textures (both synthesized and organic), and here’s a preview of what we’ve been up to!
7. Finally, and as always, a big thanks to my compadres at Curve Productions Inc! The musical contributions I was able to make to Lara Cassidy’s National Screen Institute short “Fridge Magnet Poetry” and Steve Richard’s promotional video for his photography series “The Sensual World” were, as always, delightful experiences.
So, those are the highlights of a most remarkable year! Thank you again to everyone who made this the banner year it was, and thanks to every one of you good people who are reading this! May each of you know nothing but peace, prosperity, good fortune, and the good grace and wisdom to appreciate it – me, I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings!