Posts filed under Music

Using Music in Videos, an Interview with Filmmaker Jeremy Summer

Toro y Moi’s music video, “Ordinary Pleasure” — produced by Little Moving Pictures.

Little Moving Pictures creates and produces everything from commercial advertisement to film & TV. And everything they make sounds great too.

From the disco-inspired studio captured in the one million viewed music video they produced for Toro y Moi to the melancholic comedy about a young dad reeling from a broken marriage (How It’s Goin’ ) — Little Moving Pictures is taking off visually and musically. To find out more about what they’re up to and their approach for using music in videos, we caught up with studios’ co-founder Jeremy Summer.

Jeremy Summer and daughter California Summer on the set of  How It’s Goin’

Jeremy Summer and daughter California Summer on the set of How It’s Goin’

Marmoset: Hey Jeremy, can you tell us what drew you to produce How It's Goin'?

Summer: When people ask me why we make the music videos and short films we do at Little Moving Pictures, my simplest answer is that we do those things because we said we would.

Working at an agency, everyone always has these side hustle ideas but they rarely get executed—a pitch comes up or a big campaign or whatever—it’s hard to carve the time when you’re working for someone else, where as here we can come up with an idea and do it without asking anyone’s permission.

How It’s Goin’ actually started a few years ago on 4/20/2016—I asked one of our collaborators Noe Chavez to come to golden gate park on 4/20 and shoot some portraits—we made this thing and put it out the next day. I had an idea for setting a story inside of it, something we’d film guerrilla style with the built in production value of thousands of extras—my first idea was a catholic nun traveling from Europe who accidentally comes across the 4/20 gathering and has a transcendent experience.

But my friends 26 Aries (directors Irene Chin & Kurt Vincent) came back with the script for what eventually became How It’s Goin’ and had their friend Steve Talley (the lead actor) attached. It’s the first scripted narrative thing we’ve done—think of it as our student film. We just wanted to try to do something new and thought that the novelty of making a film inside an actual event could result in something unique.

M: At what point do you guys sit down to talk about music the films or videos you create?

Summer: Music is a big deal to us across all of our projects and over the years we’ve developed a lot of relationships both with music houses like Marmoset and with labels/licensing entities. Earlier cuts of How It’s Goin' had a lot of different things happening musically that are very different than the final cut.

On this one, it really all came together toward the end. We brought on our friend Anthony Ferraro to do the original score bits—he plays keys in Toro Y Moi, we had just done a music video together for their single “Ordinary Pleasure”—and he nailed it in three-four days between tours; we wanted some warm Fender Rhodes stuff that helped connect the scenes and carry the picture, we are so happy with what he did for us.

M: What are some of the bigger challenges for filmmakers when it comes to creating music for their film?

Summer: One of the biggest challenges was finding a great piece of authentic sounding reggae music. Our rough cut had a great dub track from Trojan Records and even though we have a connection to the folks that license for that label, our timeline and budget weren’t going to work.

We looked at some stock libraries and were extremely disappointed with the “reggae” options. We were so thrilled when looking through Marmoset’s roster to come across the Dwayne Ellis song—in addition to having the sound we were looking for, it also had lyrics that tied in nicely with what the character is going through in the film and it sounds authentically Jamaican/vintage which is what we were going for.

We were playing around with a bunch of ideas for the song that ends the film and runs over the credits and had been listening to a lot of SF bands—Girls, Kelley Stoltz and Sonny & The Sunsets and came across "Children of the Beehive” which has lyrics and a feeling that ties back to the film in such a special way it’s almost as though it was written into the script.

I think the music we ended up with is a huge part of the quality of the end product—without the score and especially the songs, I don’t think it would have gotten the attention that it’s getting (Vimeo Staff Pick!).

M: What's something that really sets Little Moving Pictures apart?

Summer: I think the volume and quality of stuff we’re doing outside of advertising is something that differentiates us — though of course we have lots of peers we admire who are doing something similar — and the kinds of teams we can spin up without having to have everyone on a “roster” or a contract.

We also have a focus on post-production that I think might be a bit unique even amongst full service production companies, the editor is essentially a creative director on our projects from the moment we get a brief, not just there when we edit.

Little Moving Pictures’ mascot, Beatrix

Little Moving Pictures’ mascot, Beatrix

Because we’re so small (three of us full-time) and our over head is so low as a result, we get to be selective about the projects we take on so most of the work we’re doing is stuff we’re genuinely happy to be doing whether its for brands or for fun—either the budget is there and we can treat our crews properly/pay promptly and put on a good show for our clients or the creative is something that we’re excited enough about that we can rally the troops and make it happen regardless of budget.

Our hope is that eventually the passion projects and branded content will start to intersect more- feature length documentaries for brands, music videos that are sponsored, that sort of thing.

Also, my dog Beatrix. No one else has a Beatrix.

M: Your studios create everything from music videos to ad campaigns — what's the type of creative project that you're always excited to dig into?

Summer: We’re so lucky to do a blend of work for brands and work for ourselves. Aside from paying the bills (thanks brands!), working on commercials and branded content has helped us develop relationships with the directors we collaborate with and also the crew community and folks who are instrumental post production partners—colorists, sound mixers, music houses etc.

We leverage those relationships when it comes time to do the music videos and short films— people are down to lend their craft for little to no money on those things because we keep them busy and treat them well when we’re working for brands. Doing the music videos and short films is almost a gift to ourselves. It becomes material we can use to market Little Moving Pictures but in a lot of ways, we do art simply for the sake of doing it—and to learn and grow from the experience.

We love making commercials (especially when the budgets/timelines are reasonable), but there’s nothing like getting all our friends together to make some art.


Read more on Little Moving Pictures and watch Vimeo Staff Pick short film, How It’s Goin’ by clicking here. Then head over here to check out more of their films.

Finding Music for Film with Little Moving Pictures Studios

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Filmmakers come from all walks of life, their journeys shaping the stories they tell. So what happens when someone from the advertising world steps into the world of filmmaking? Engaging content that leaves behind the epitome of commercialism is put out into the universe.

Little Moving Pictures is the perfect example of implementing this certain kind of integrity even within their ad campaigns. There’s a good reason for this, as co-founders Jeremy Summer and Nathan Petty began with years of agency and editing experience as their background. From the get-go, the studios specialized as a post-house operation, quickly moving onto creative shoots for music videos to TV shows. Their collaborator circle widened, bringing to the table actors, filmmakers and music houses to help score their video projects.

“When people ask me why we make the music videos and short films we do at Little Moving Pictures, my simplest answer is that we do those things because we said we would,” says Summer.

Actor Steve Talley and California Summer on set of  How It’s Goin’

Actor Steve Talley and California Summer on set of How It’s Goin’

As a means of getting friends together to make something fun, Summer brought the inkling of an idea to fellow filmmakers Adam Callahan, Irene Chin and Kurt Vincent (of 26 Aires). It all started from some footage Summer had captured of a 420 event in San Francisco from two years prior, which led to the making of How It’s Goin’ — a bittersweet comedy about a young dad reeling from his recent divorce.

Featured throughout the film is background music composed by Anthony Ferraro (Toro y Moi’s keyboardist). Beyond the original score, the the film was in search of authentic reggae, landing on Running In and Out by Dwayne Ellis.

Check out Vimeo Staff Pick and short film How It’s Goin’ below and stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Jeremy Summer of Little Moving Pictures — we’ll dive into their approach for using music in videos while highlighting some of their other cool work you’ll want to pass around to your friends.


Little Moving Pictures is a San Francisio based production studio. Their work has been featured by Rolling Stone, Vimeo Staff Pics, Pitchfork, National Geographic and Radiolab among other partners like The Museum of Modern Art, Fox Sports and Sony Music have commissioned their work.

The Art of Getting Paid Through Sync Licensing

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Finding music for licensing isn’t something that occurs in a vacuum. The search, the process and results greatly impact those working behind the scenes to generate the art itself — the musicians.

In an industry of supporting artists to garner another revenue stream through commercial music, sync licensing ensures artists get paid for their work whenever their songs are put to use. That’s right, when a song plays over an ad campaign or in the background of a movie, a sync license is what grants someone the music rights for that film.

At Marmoset, there’s intentionality that goes into ensuring our artists’ music go from being catalogued on our roster to being placed to picture. Because securing a sync license means getting our artists paid for their work. Like that never-ending train standing in the way of you and a timely arrival (a plea to spot its caboose for signifying its final departure), when it comes to pitching music our team is in it for the long haul; from ensuring music is easily searchable on the Marmoset site to staying knowledgeable on updates to the continually evolving music catalog.

So what can artists do on their end to ensure they’re not holding anything up with a promising sync license? Marmoset’s Marissa Hernandez, Music Licensing Creative chats with Kill Rock Stars’ Portia Sabin on the final installment of The Future of What’s Get Paid series — follow the link below to listen.

Music for Film: Finding Music for Tribeca Film, Clementine

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When making a movie, music inspiration can arrive at any stage imaginable — maybe it’s when using temp music while editing. Or maybe it’s getting hooked by a timeless vintage love ballad and upholding the song as the film’s inspirational axis.

In the case of Tribeca film, Clementine music inspiration struck early, Writer & Director Lara Jean Gallagher working closely with Marmoset’s Film & TV Music Licensing Team early on to find music for her independent film.

While Clementine was still being filmed, Marmoset’s Jackie Westfall stepped in as the movie’s Music Supervisor. In the midst of production, earnestness fueled the music searching process, Gallagher’s clear vision for the film’s narrative—and how it would sound via its musical components—the compass for Jackie’s music supervision.

Clementine being Gallagher’s first feature film, the writer/director is no novice in grasping how music’s presence (or lack thereof) can shape a scene — her past work includes a slew of music videos she’s directed, showcasing at SXSW and published on Pitchfork. One look through Gallagher’s portfolio is telling of her recognition of both art forms, a usage of compelling visuals and music/sound to tell a unified story.

”Gallagher had a very distinct vision for the film, how she wanted it to sound and look like,” says Jackie. “One of the interesting things is she wanted music to only play in scenes organically. So if you saw a radio or if you were in the car or somewhere you knew that music could play out of — that was an original idea that she had.”

Like any creative project, there’s an unlimited number of ways production details can go awry. Getting music rights for a film doesn’t have to live in the same vein. Jackie at the music supervising helm and Marmoset’s Jamie McMullen offering support as music coordinator, the collaboration kicked off with an in-depth spotting session. It’s the kind of channel for getting filmmaker and music supervisor on the same page, to dig deep into the philosophy behind music placement in film.

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“There’s nothing like sitting in the room with the creator, writer, director to really get a peek behind the curtain of what would you like to say?” says Jackie. “It’s a lot of exploring what the characters are thinking in a scene or asking what do you want the audience to know and then making suggestions through music.”

Forging ahead for licensing the right music for the film, Jackie applied her previous film supervision experience (a music coordinator for two Noah Baumbach films) to deliver the best undiscovered music songs for commercial use to Gallagher. There’s a harmonious balance within this kind of creative exchange, Jackie mindfully inquisitive within her communication style, leading in her music expertise but never imposing on the filmmaker’s vision.

This kind intentionality and awareness in upholding creative integrity is what any filmmaker can expect when collaborating with Marmoset’s music team. There’s an active understanding between art forms, visuals and music mutually integral to one another.

With Clementine and other notable films, music supervision can punctuate the story without losing sight of what’s unfolding visually. Experts like Jackie note the importance in knowing how to exercise music as a tool in aiding any narrative.

“It’s about elevating the art that’s already there,” says Jackie. “You don’t want your film or project to sound like a music video. It shouldn’t be that the story is in service to the music, it should be the other way around.”


Clementine premiers at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th and is being showcased through May 5th. Learn more about festival times and the film here.

Launching New Record Label, Infinite Companion

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Remember the era of making mixtapes or burning CDs for your pals? Yeah, we kind of miss those days too. The thrill of finding music you couldn’t wait to share, then compiling songs into perfect order.

The music itself was great, but sharing it was even better.

Because it wasn’t just about passing along a song, it was an invitation to dig into something with each other. It’s pretty much how we feel in announcing our new record label, Infinite Companion — an artist collective where unabashed individuality, diversity and damn good music live together under the same roof.  

We’ve already kicked things off by inviting Pure Bathing Culture, OMA and Frankie Simone to our label’s roster. We’ve even made a special mixtape featuring their music. Call us nostalgic, but we just wanted to share it with our friends.

You're Welcome Here — Partnering Against Discrimination

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Basic rights should be just that, inherently expected and granted to every individual. Because this isn’t the case and discrimination is still very much a reoccurring issue many face in their lives, any opportunity to stand together is a step toward progress.

Marmoset is partnering with other business and community leaders on Thursday April 25th, joining the annual Oregonians Against Discrimination Business Leaders luncheon (learn more here). Showing up means a renewed commitment in fostering a business we’re proud to see interacting with our community — because what happens inside the Marmoset walls stems outward to our artists, clients and collaborators.

The space and place serves as a reminder to do more while also celebrating workers’ rights milestones. So whether you’re someone we work with day in and day out or if you’re a new prospective connection, you’re welcome here at Marmoset.

Posted on April 24, 2019 and filed under Community, Marmoset, Music.