Posts filed under Filmmaking

A/VEC 5: The Unfinished Portrait of Migrant Workers

Musical artist, Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba) and documentary filmmaker, Claudia Meza at Marmoset Headquarters on the night of A/VEC

Musical artist, Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba) and documentary filmmaker, Claudia Meza at Marmoset Headquarters on the night of A/VEC

When picturing the rolling landscape of wine country, picturesque leisure comes to most minds: people basking in a bounty of fresh air while clinking their glasses of wine, mumblings of salute exchanged wistfully. Many will fail to pose the question of how this wine came to be, blissfully unaware of the working hands that have constructed the perfect scene before them — erring in thinking magic is behind it all.

It’s not magic. Nor is it from nothingness. There’s backbreaking work surrounding each aromatic pour and tasting. It’s easy to overlook as this work occurs behind the scenes, commencing at an hour many are still in bed. It’s work that’s hidden in plain sight but should be recognized, discussed, even questioned — something that filmmaker, Claudia Meza sought to pose in the original film she created for Marmoset’s fifth annual A/VEC 5 showcase.

Meza’s mission was to offer insight into this generation of migrant laborers, following the story in a ‘day in the life’ terms — the film opens on an early morning backdrop, we’re visually introduced to unnamed workers who hustle in a way that’s unprecedented by what you’d commonly see in any office environment. There’s a ferocity and propelling drive that catapults the subjects forward, it becomes nearly impossible to focus on any single person. In a way this is intentional, Meza aspiring to present the facts while still protecting identities.

“The reason I wanted to make this, I wanted to know what a migrant worker does because we hear so much about migrant laborers, undocumented workers, Mexican immigrants,” says Meza. “But we have no clue what is actually going on. Trabajo pesado, what that means is “hard work,” it means heavy work. And whenever your parents tell you to study, or tell you what they're doing for you so you don’t have to do — trabajo pesado.”

Y La Bamba

Y La Bamba

As Marmoset’s A/VEC series is constructed around the premise of music and picture working together to create a single experience, there’s something deeply profound in they way Mendoza’s score (Y La Bamba) resonates seamlessly with the visuals. An impressive feat considering neither artist was allowed to communicate with one another leading up to the screening (naturally, part of the entire A/VEC premises).

While this unknowingness of one another’s identities throughout their individual creative process existed, there is an unshaken connecting thread of understanding — there’s clearly an unspoken recognition of the film’s weight and a shared compassion for what the visuals exposed that Mendoza registered. Despite Meza’s intentional decision to omit vocals captured on the day of filming, the context hits home through Mendoza’s lyrics within her original song titled, “The Screams.”

“It’s not so often that this gets to be presented in my music scene,” says Mendoza. “I feel like my life, my parents’ lives — and I know some of us here too that can also relate — how our lives and our stories are being magnified.”

Mendoza recounts her family lineage entwined with a similar kind of physical labor, her story is similar to Meza’s and to those featured in the film. And while neither artist knew who was on the opposite side of this collaboration, both shared a similar personal journey and appreciation of the previous generation’s trabajo pesado.

“We have always lived and carried this knowledge, this is part of living and breathing and surviving, and it’s something really rewarding but it breaks me in front of you to share this and actually exercise what’s been killing me for so long. It’s like this emotional awareness.”

“A well-incomplete story
that hides in a dark corner.
and the snake runs awake
feeling the heat that comes from the earth”
— Y La Bamba

As the event enters its Q&A portion, questions revolving around ‘what’s next’ fill the room. A stirring statement is made by a member of the audience thanking Meza and Mendoza for sharing art that speaks volumes within our rugged political landscape. The attendee reverses the ‘what’s next’ inquiry, prompting fellow audience members to ask themselves what they can do rather than placing the weight of responsibility solely on the artists.

Marmoset commends these artists for allowing their art-form to speak for those who often go without a voice. In an effort to assemble in what we can do together, we’ve listed resources and references in support of America’s migrant workers.

Posted on September 26, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Community, Marmoset, Music, Spotlight: Marmoset, Spotlight: Artists.

Tonight's A/VEC Events Brings Together Both Musician and Filmmaker

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The fifth installment of A/VEC is tonight at Marmoset headquarters. Need a reminder of what A/VEC is? We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Last year’s A/VEC installment brought together the talents of filmmaker Jennifer Reeder (whose film, A Millions Miles Away was screened at Sundance Film Festival) and Marmoset artist, Secret Drum Band.

The two artists’ identities were kept a secret until the night of the reveal — it’s a true testament of how art can be interpreted so vastly differently based on one’s personal experiences. With Secret Drum Band creating an original score to accompany Reeder’s finished film, the finish line entails the mergence of a single cinematic experience.

You’ll want to catch our recap short film highlighting the collaboration. Check it out here —

A reminder this event is RSVP only so don’t forget to get your name on the list before time runs out. Can’t make it? We’ll miss you but stay tuned for our behind the scenes film capturing the creation process and premiere.

Posted on September 25, 2018 and filed under Shows, Spotlight: Marmoset, Marmoset, Community, Filmmaking.

Love Music? Love Movies? Welcome to StudioFest

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The ultimate journey to StudioFest begins now. As we make the trek from Portland, Oregon to the Catskill Mountains of Phoenicia, the upcoming weekend will be filled with non-stop music to the multifaceted sides to filmmaking (need to catch up on what StudioFest is, check it out here).

Our Creative Licensing Team assembled the ultimate playlist to get you amped up. Follow the link below to get listening and stay tuned for more information about the winning filmmakers & screenwriters!

Posted on September 17, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Community, Marmoset, Music, Mixtapes.

Unleashing the Right Kind of Music for Your Film Trailer

The trailer to a film can be the fingerprint to an entire project — it’s what tells your viewers just enough engaging information without giving away the best parts (c’mon, no one likes spoilers). It’s an art-form to master and can influence just how many viewers will be hooked enough to seek out the rest of the story.

Similar to commercials, the film’s sneak peek can be cut down and edited around the right music to tug on the heartstrings of the audience — from the lighthearted pop rock that lulls behind dialogue of a comedic romance to the rhythmic percussions guiding an action sequence. But what’s the right kind of music for your trailer and how does one even begin searching for the best fit?

We have three tips to help nail down the best music for any trailer or short video.

Considering Song Length

Marmoset Length Browse Search Music

This is it, the first impression. And you have to do it typically in under two minutes. While the visuals and dialogue will help create a compelling exposition for the film, music is a surefire method evoking emotional investment from the audience.

This is why it’s not uncommon to see a range (one to two, or even three songs) with the first song defining the vibrancy and tone, the last song as the catalyst.

In the “Sorry For Your Loss” movie trailer, two songs were licensed for the project: “Possible Deaths” by Typhoon and “Golden October" by Ryan Stively.

The songs, while emotively different, still compliment each other through their reflective qualities. While it’s clear neither song plays from start to finish in the video, there’s an intentional shift and purpose for the music’s placement. When “Golden October” trails off, “Possible Deaths” illustrates a heavier mood, hitting home a somewhat mysterious quality to the film (remember the mentioning of hooking your audience, this is that moment).

When a project needs succinct music to perfectly fit within a timeline the Length setting aids editors in finding music to appease such time constraints. Get searching and check it out here.

It’s All About the Mood

We hinted at this above but the emotional qualities of a trailer can be what intensifies or lessens the trailer’s message. If the film is a dark drama set in the 1800s, the music should similarly help complete this palette. Will there be swelling moments of inspiration? Or is the audience meant to feel alienated? These are the kind of factors to consider when placing music to picture.

On the Marmoset browse page, there are two key settings to filter a song’s search. Toggle the Mood and Energy settings to find music that compliments the overall atmospheric tone.

A Certain Kind of Subtext

In deciding between lyrics and instrumental versions of a song, the lyrical version can offer subtext to a trailer — all without the audience even realizing it’s happening. Call it subconscious persuasion but it can help hit all the right points quickly and effectively.

In the “Sorry For Your Loss” trailer, “Golden October” alludes to the idea of missing someone or wishing to be reunited with them. This aligns with the trailer’s unfolding narrative as this also centers around the main character struggling with the death of her spouse.

To utilize a song’s lyrics to their fullest music searchers can check out the song’s lyrics from the Marmoset music search page. Simply play a song and if the artist submitted lyrics to Marmoset, an “open book” icon will appear on the bottom of the window. Click this icon and a pop-up window will appear with lyrics.

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Check back next time as we continue offering more tips on how to find the music for every project.

Posted on September 14, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Education, Marmoset, Music, Shared Work.

Marmoset's Original Music Team Transforms Sound into Score

Don't believe that sounds collected from everyday office life can be smartly pieced together to create music? 

Our "Found Sound" short film is about to prove naysayers wrong. The piece is the brainchild of our in-house Original Music Composer, Graham Barton and Marmoset's Visual Content Director, Josh Brine. From clicking and clinks to woofs and slams, the short film offers an example of our Sound Design experts at work.

And while the sounds are natural and truly captured from Marmoset headquarters, don't mistake it for sheer luck or coincidence. The "sounds" were carefully mapped out beforehand and scored by our Original Music Team, when strategically planned out, captured, produced, and edited, the finished product is anything but pointless noise. 

The short film proves how even the most obscure of sounds can be strung together to create an entire score — check out the video above and listen for yourself. 


Posted on August 9, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Spotlight: Marmoset, Music, Marmoset.

Last Call for Filmmakers at StudioFest

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Every filmmakers' dream is to secure enough funding and grounding to adapt their short film into a feature. After all, the longer format is more or less the standard for mainstream movies, so if an artist can create content on this kind of scale, it's proof they can hold their own.

In a way, it's a calling card not only for a filmmaker's creative prowess but it's a tangible qualification in the film industry — it's indicative of endurance and resourcefulness. 

In case you missed it, we've teamed up with StudioFest this year, sponsoring their one of a kind festival that's setting out to reward winning filmmakers + screenwriters financial contribution and support in adapting a short film idea into a feature length movie. And in case you missed it, here's more about our sponsorship of the fest. 

In anticipation of the festival's last call for entries this week (late deadline: August 3rd, 2018 — $65), we reached out to co-founder of StudioFest, Jess Jacklin, to learn more about what makes the fest a pioneer within the traditional festival circuit. 

Co-founder of StudioFest, Jess Jacklin

Co-founder of StudioFest, Jess Jacklin

Marmoset: Could you tell us a little bit about your background in filmmaking and your experience with the festival circuits? Was there a defining moment where you realized how much of a need there was for something like StudioFest?

Jacklin: I started out producing for a big agency in New York and during that time I spent four years working on and off making a documentary film about my grandfather and the Chesapeake Bay I grew up on.

When I got onto the festival circuit with the film, I realized pretty quickly that a lot filmmakers were searching for a way to turn their shorts into a feature. One great aspect of festivals is networking and I did get a sense for this pretty quickly.

So many festivals seem to be about ticket sales and are for movie-goers. They might not always be offering the most to filmmakers themselves looking for financing. My partner Charles Beale and I came up with the idea that we should really find a way to help emerging talent to make the leap from short to feature.

There are real barriers to go from a short to feature. The costs, even for a micro-budget project, are difficult for someone starting out. It was clear that there was a lot of talent but not a ton of resources.  StudioFest is the first of its kind, a new take on the traditional model, and we hope it’s going to meet a real need for the filmmakers of today.

Marmoset: What's your vision for the future of StudioFest?

Jacklin: To start, we want make a film a year with the winning writing/directing duo. Right now we think it would be really cool to take the festival on the road. Perhaps the West Coast next year and maybe even a Europe fest someday soon. 

Marmoset: What's something you're most excited about for StudioFest?

Jacklin: I’m excited to see our judges, finalists, and sponsors together over a bonfire talking about movies. We are so thrilled with the caliber of talent we have on board for this year. I am probably most excited for the moment when the dust has settled and we have our winners locked in prepping the film. 

Marmoset: What would be some advice you'd pass along to someone submitting their short film or screenplay to the fest? 

Jacklin: We are looking for sensibility. Show us what you are capable of as a writer or director. We also want to see an understanding of micro-budget filmmaking.

If you wrote a film that requires extensive CGI or a period piece, it might be harder to imagine. That said, we are looking for your talent. How do you write dialogue? How do you use a camera to tell a story? How well do you work with actors? Do you use little resources well and are you inventive? We really want filmmakers who are down to get in the mud with us, roll up their sleeves and have a lot of fun in the process. 


The last deadline to submit an application to StudioFest is August 3rd. Learn more and apply here

Posted on August 1, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Education, Community, Marmoset.