Posts tagged #Music For Short Film

Music in Film: StudioFest Filmmakers Make Their First Feature

Souvenirs is StudioFest’s debut feature film that follows a murderabilia shop clerk who discovers her own family’s dark history when asked to sell souvenirs from a crime not yet solved.

Souvenirs is StudioFest’s debut feature film that follows a murderabilia shop clerk who discovers her own family’s dark history when asked to sell souvenirs from a crime not yet solved.

When Jess Jacklin and Charles Beale kicked off StudioFest last year, their mission was to redefine traditional film festival processes—to award the winning filmmakers not just with a temporary status or accolade, but with means of creating their first feature work.

“Independent short filmmakers and screenwriters desire one thing: to make their first feature,” says Beale. “We have aimed to align the skew, bringing talented filmmakers straight to their first feature. The project has grown to include so much talent and enthusiasm and we can’t wait to share the film.”

Winning director, Anna Mikami and winning screenwriter Matthew Sorvillo walked away from the festival experience with a newfound professional partnership. With Mikami in the director chair and Sorvillo spearheading the script, Souvenirs was the product of creative collaboration, perseverance and a tried-and-true indie kind of resourcefulness.

A still from StudioFest production, Souvenirs

A still from StudioFest production, Souvenirs

Produced under a 1M micro-budget, the StudioFest collaborative proved it’s possible to churn out a high quality production even when a big studio isn’t at the helm. Partnering up with Marmoset to equip the production with the music rights for their feature film, a dream soundtrack was no longer out of arm’s reach.

Proving it’s possible to find songs for commercial use on a budget is what Marmoset’s music licensing team does daily. But when partnering up with other community organizations like StudioFest—to help outside projects license music for video—it’s a commitment to our community; to give what we can from our side, while always ensuring our artists receive their share and exposure for their work.

Thanks to the pioneering film festival that’s examining the leaps and hurdles every filmmaker faces, Souvenirs is no longer an aspirational idea—it’s a film slated to premiere in Fall 2019.

“The winners we chose compliment each other in a way we are very excited about. As we get into our second week of filming, there’s an air of enthusiasm shared with everyone involved,” says Jacklin. “Although we’re working with a micro-budget, the caliber of talent from cast, crew and sponsors adds a tremendous amount of value and we couldn’t do it without their dedication and vision.”


Stay tuned as we cover the release of Souvenirs and the making of its soundtrack.

Marmoset presents Music Placement in Media

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For Portland Design Week, Marmoset opened its doors to the music and film community, delving into the world of music placement in media. An expert panel of music supervisors including Morgan Rhodes, Megan Barbour and Brooke Wentz, the discussion revolved around the epicenter of music supervision — from their favorite upcoming artists to common misconceptions about what their day to day looks like (no it’s not all just pitching one song then kicking back over beers with the film crew).

While getting music rights is imperative for any music supervisor working in the TV & film industry, the panel echoed a core music supervision responsibility they all share: it’s not merely about finding music that brings the visuals to life but searching for songs that punctuate the director’s overall message without interference.

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“My interest is always about serving the story,” says Morgan Rhodes, LA-based music supervisor. “I come from an indie film background, this is sort of how I got into the game; I don’t know what it took for that filmmaker to get to the point of having their film in festivals, so the last thing I want to do is throw my own agenda on it. Sometimes it’s a great song, but it might not be a great song for that moment. But if it is a great song while serving and carrying the moment, then that’s what I’m about.”

The topic of jumping through hoops of approval processes and music clearances inevitably come up, but there’s a larger pain point that each panel speaker has encountered too many times to count. Music supervisor, Brook Wentz echoes a passionate plea to the audience, specifically addressing the musical artists keen to explore the world of music licensing.

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“If you want us to use your music, the number one thing you need to have is contact information that you actually respond to,” says Wentz. “If you’re not reachable, you’re not going to get the gig.”

Music supervisors unarguably are at the forefront of music discovery, their roles so closely entwined with how quickly an emerging artist’s can enter the spotlight of recognition. Apart from the hurdles of negotiating with copyright holders for bigger named artists, there’s a resounding commitment for finding and helping artists catch a break. It’s something that aligns with Marmoset’s mission when helping clients license music for video (or creating original music) — it’s the consciousness effort to do right by artists first and foremost, before all else.

“One of the things I really like about indie artists is they get placement,” Rhodes says. “They understand that it is sort of the new A&R — sync is a way to get noticed. You can get discovered in the blink of an episode.”


Missed this special community education event? Head over to our Facebook page to watch the recorded steam (learn about a music supervisors tool belt and how they search for new music) — don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletters for future community events like this one and we’ll catch you next time!

Say Hey to Jené and Diana: Talking Diversity and DJing with Noche Libre

Creative Music Coordinators, Jené Etheridge and Diana Suarez — photography by    Kale Chesney

Creative Music Coordinators, Jené Etheridge and Diana Suarez — photography by Kale Chesney

Jené Etheridge and Diana Suarez are two of Marmoset’s Creative Music Coordinators by day, swooping in to support clients with music searches and clearances for every kind of project under the sun. By night, the two host one of the most buzz-worthy dance nights in Portland —Noche Libre.

Assembled of Jené, Diana and six other DJs, the Latinx collective’s mission challenges Portland’s mainstream nightlife scene, where typically only a small demographic is made to feel seen, welcome and safe. Instead Noche Libre cultivates community, creating space for Black, Brown and Indigenous groups.

Illustration by Noche Libre collective member,    Yuriko Xolotl

Illustration by Noche Libre collective member, Yuriko Xolotl

Spinning everything from cumbia and quebradita to dancehall and perreo, the inclusivity starts with the collective’s music selection. “We’re not super genre specific,” says Jené. “We definitely have a vibe but we’ll still play hip hop and a lot of different genres, there’s really something for everyone.”

It’s a reflection of their own musical tastes, everything they enjoy jamming to while also encompassing and honoring their Latin heritage and upbringings.

“I think what's really cool about something like Noche Libre is it’s just part of Latin culture — to get together and listen to music with your family and friends,” says Diana. “I really feel like it just feels like family get-togethers, everybody's just here for each other and here for a good time.”

The importance of Noche Libre’s presence — other than hearing mixes en fuego — is its movement toward building opportunities and spaces for artists of color within the music industry. With Jené leading Marmoset’s internal Diversity & Inclusion Team and Diana supporting the team’s overarching initiatives, their mission is to disrupt problematic systems to pave way for new processes.

From redefining how composers are brought onto creative projects to integrating diversity focused mixers into marketing trips — the team leads objectives that not merely benefit the underrepresented, but the entire company. It’s endless work, but indicative of genuine desire for positive change within an industry that upholds barriers for those who are non-binary or people of color.

Jené and Diana daily facilitate interpersonal conversations with other teams, including music producers and members of leadership (among community leaders). There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s mindful development toward progression.

A floral shrine created by Diana (IG photo credit: @    stoneanvil     )

A floral shrine created by Diana (IG photo credit: @stoneanvil)

When not attending workshops and programs like Partners in Diversity’s Say Hey night or DJing around town as Noche Libre, Jené and Diana keep busy with their side creative missions. Diana being an experienced florist, she’s responsible for cultivating Y La Bamba and Sávila’s dreamy stage designs — the floral arrangements while laborious, only add to the feat of strength that both Latin American musical groups deliver through their performances. You can also catch Jené co-hosting Everyday Mixtapes on XRAY.FM every Saturday night from 5:00-6:00PM (PDT) — listeners will be pulled in with a mix of throwbacks from R&B, hip hop to funk and vintage gems.

So if passing through Portland and catching Noche Libre in action, what can one expect when out on the dance floor?

“We find a way to fit it altogether. Like I’ll play an Asian psych song and then a chicha song, which leads to a cumbia song,” says Diana. “Because we’re all so different and made up of so many different experiences, that’s what makes it interesting.”

Part of Noche Libre’s mission statement is “to celebrate our family’s roots and rituals by carrying on the tradition of puro pinche pari” — it’s an embodiment of finding strength in identity and to not only live in it, but to celebrate it.

Download Our "Soulful" Mixtape

Vintage grooves for modern times.

There's a timeless feel that comes with a good beat, and our new "Soulful" mixtape is packed oh so full of them. Big beats, brass blasts, and booming bass color this playlist to help bring vintage vibes with modern twists to your project. Enjoy.

Interview With Filmmaker, Joe Simon

Field Notes Interview #89: Joe Simon, Filmmaker

We chat with filmmaker, Joe Simon, about the sensitivity of scenery when filming, his new film exploring the story and history of whiskey company, Slow and Low, and one piece of important advice he'd give a filmmaker just starting out.

 

Using location as character.

When telling any story, you'll find the most honesty in the details. And there's nothing more sobering and clarifying than taking note of the surrounding landscape that colors the story. Joe Simon knows this well. While portraying the history of longtime Philadelphia whiskey distillery, Slow & Low, Simon discovered that the story of the distillery meant nothing without providing context of the city where it lives.

Before traveling to the notoriously blue-collar neighborhood of Kensington, Philadelphia, Simon became a researcher to find out as much as he could before diving into filming. This historic neighborhood is rough around the edges, while also changing rapidly as the city shifts. In order to capture this, Simon, along with his production company, The Delivery Men, decided to find out the feel of Kensington through first-hand interviews and filming what he saw on the streets. What came from his experience was something raw and beautiful. This is not only the story of a distillery -- this is a story of a city.

We got a chance to talk to Simon about his process, from concept to completion and everything that falls in between. Enjoy.


Marmoset: Who are you and what do you do in the world?

Joe Simon: I’m Joe Simon, I’m a filmmaker. Dog owner. Husband. Bike rider. I like adventure and I like challenges.

M: What are some defining elements in crafting a compelling story?

JS: Crafting a compelling story, you need so much to go into it. You have to have a good concept and you have to have a good story to begin with. Either it’s a documentary and you have the right story to follow, or if you’re creating the content from scratch, you’re creating something that’s going to grab someone’s attention, keep them interested while they’re watching. I think a lot of what we do is in pre-production, spending that time before the shoot -- creating something and building a plan -- so when you go to into the shoot, you know what you’re doing and you’re not winging it and hoping you come back with a story. 

M: Does a lot of the work happen before you press record?

JS: A lot of the time. On this project, it was not exactly that way -- mostly half and half because it was more of a documentary. However, right now we’re working on a short film and we’re doing a ton of pre-production to answer any questions that might come up while we’re on set.

M: How did this project come about?

JS: I have some friends at a branding company called LAND and they do all the labels and print materials for Slow & Low. They approached and said they’d love to collaborate with us. From that point we were working with them as well as the actual Slow & Low company to see what would work for the brand. They wanted to create a history piece because they are fairly new. They wanted to show the history of Rock and Rye. That entailed researching back to the 1800s, when Rock and Rye was invented, and figuring out what would tell the story the best way possible.

M: How do you factor in place as a character in your films? Is that intentional?

JS: A huge part of this project was location. The brand is very specific about wanting to show off the old factory -- it’s been there since the 1800s -- but also the neighborhood it’s based within, which is Kensington. Showing the juxtaposition of these guys that work at this factory -- they’re hardworking Philadelphia blue-collar guys -- next to this drug and prostitution neighborhood. The two are on the edge of each other. How do you show that visually and really capture what it’s like to be in both locations?

I think in general with our work, place is a big factor. I’m a big fan of architecture and landscapes. To me, you can create so much feeling from capturing them in the right way. That’s the mix with this project -- shooting it in Super 8 to match the vibe of certain pieces. Giving it a grade and adding grain in post to make it feel a little more gritty. Shooting it handheld -- different ways to bring that aesthetic out.

M: Did you learn anything new about the city as you were shooting?

JS: You always learn something new. Going into this project researching as much as we could, we could find so many images on Google and so many articles about the area, and most of them are pretty terrible. So we talked to a lot people and did a lot of man-on-the-street interviews, learning about the neighborhood itself, which we learned was sketchy, basically. Going into it, we wanted to capture footage in the Kensington Square -- but when we actually get there and see the drug deals going down on the street, you see prostitutes walking around and people out of their mind on drugs. It’s two-fold -- for one, it’s sad and you don’t want to exploit that and use it in a way to make it worse. And two, you don’t want to get shot or stabbed with someone being like “why are you filming me?” It was a delicate situation of capturing the location without going down the wrong path.

M: Was there was one particular person you interviewed that had interesting story about the area?

JS: They were all different. Going into this, we had a couple storylines with man-on-the-street interviews mixed with interviews from people in the factory. But once you talk to a few people, you realize if this is going to work or not, do you have the right charismatic characters? We didn’t really get much of that. The attitude of the people there wasn’t the right fit. The guy that you do see, “Brother Moe,” who says “You can get anything you want in Kensington, whether it’s good or bad” -- that guy is amazing. He’s a rap artist and filmmaker himself and he lives across the street from the factory. He has a lot of stories of how the neighborhood’s changed. The area used to be really bad, but now it’s gotten better and it’s on the uptick, like most lower-income areas that are now being gentrified.

Slowly, that gentrification wave is coming through that area by the factory. It’s getting really expensive and the bars are going out of business. People are moving away who have been there for generations. It’s a sad story of sorts. You have the neighborhood like the one we filmed in, and you walk into this place and you're transported back in time and there are locals there every night and everyone knows each other. It’s that old-town blue collar bar, not like the ones in Portland and Austin where it’s more hipster vibe -- these are gritty. 

M: As a filmmaker, how do you feel your profession has been misconceived?

JS: I think people outside of it think it’s a simple, magical process of sorts. Like you go out and capture something and it’s done. But it’s a very intensive process to go from developing a story to having something worthwhile to then it sucks again to then going back and getting it on the right path and then going shooting again and many things going wrong that you didn’t expect to wrong. It’s like solving a math problem over and over again. Then you get to post [production] and it’s that whole process over again. With any kind of artistic venture, it’s similar. People looking form the outside think “Oh you go and shoot and then you edit and everything comes together really easily.” It’s always a difficult process. No matter how much time you’ve been at it, it’s never easy.

M: How did you land on the music for this project? How do you overcome and transcend “demo love”?

JS: We had a short list of music that we liked. It was hard because the client really wanted a huge band, but they didn’t have the money to license something like that. And often, once a client has something like that in mind, it’s all they think about. It’s trying to find the right fit and create something to show them the best option. Something in the style and in a budget they can afford. With clients, it’s always a process of talking them into what needs to happen vs. their dreams. They have a budget of a kitten, but they want a tiger -- it’s always like that. Once you finally get into that place, when they finally hear that one track, they’re like “this is the one.” Sometimes the first track we drop in, the client loves it. Sometimes it takes three or four songs to get to a place that works. Even though I love the song, it might not be that the client loves the song.

M: What would be one piece of advice to a filmmaker starting out that you wish you had?

JS: The best thing you can do is go out and shoot as much as you can, because having that experience and that practice is the only way you’re going to learn. If you’re just constantly thinking about doing it and developing all these ideas into a book and not executing them, you’re not getting the real experience. It takes that trial and error, it takes that time on set and that time conquering those problems and issues you have to actually grow. It’s definitely getting out and shooting as much as you can, be it editing or whatever it is you’re doing. It’s simple.

 
 
 

Interview with Vincent Laforet

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

Field Notes #80: Vincent Laforet, Director 

We chatted with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Vincent Laforet on the phone, discussing the importance of embracing technology in film, the role of a good soundtrack and how he overcomes demo love when working on a project.

We first met Vincent in 2014 when he was traveling through Portland on his Directing Motion Tour. However, his career far preceded the time we first shook hands. His work as a director, writer and producer has found him creating commercials for the likes of Apple, Nike, GE, CNN and Canon. His photography has landed him in publications including National Geographic, Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated. Thanks to Vincent and his depth of knowledge as a filmmaking teacher, we can no longer watch films the same way. And, that's a good thing.

He recently released his project, AIR, where he took high-altitude, aerial photographs of cities at night around the world. The work is beautiful, stunning and released as an incredible book. The second edition of AIR is released into the world today and we highly recommend making this the next thing you look at.


M: Who are you and what do you do in the world?

VL: I've been a photojournalist, photographer and commercial photographer for 20+ years, and a filmmaker for about seven years. I've directed narratives, short films and commercials for a variety of clients, from small companies and startups all the way to Apple and GE. I try to keep busy, always integrating myself with new technologies, finding different ways to apply them to uses they were not exactly intended for. A good example would be back in 2008/2009, the Canon 5D MKII was released as a still camera, but I saw something very different in it -- which in turn, helped start the craziness of the DSLR phase of video history.

M: You were one of the leading figures of that movement, right?

VL: I happened to be the first guy to shoot anything with HDDSLR. So, it's part luck and part the ability to see what this thing could do. It opened up a lot of doors for a lot of people. Initially, the idea was met with a lot of resistance. But, like you can't keep a good man down, you can't keep a good technology down, no matter what you think -- it's going to do what it's going to do.

M: Would place yourself in the camp of embracing new technology in your craft?

VL: That has always been apart of my philosophy. Lately, I've been focusing a lot more on narrative and story. But, at the end of the day, what's gotten me where I am today -- whether it was DSLR's or the MoVI or doing this latest project called AIR where I shot at night from high altitude with aerial cameras -- there always tends to be a technological angle behind it.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

© Vincent Laforet, Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles.

M: Going back a little into your career, when did that crossroads in your use of DSLR technology take place?

VL: That crossroads started off with me borrowing the camera over the weekend from Canon. I wasn’t the intended person the camera was supposed to go to -- in other words it, was supposed to go out to four to five photographers. But...I begged my way into borrowing it over the weekend and I shot my first short ever — what I would call a bad cologne commercial. It was visually strong, used low light really well, and was all shot with a still lens in a still camera, which at the time was 10x cheaper than the next camera up. Large sensor, low light, etc. It got 2 million views within the first two weeks. This is during the time before social media was fully developed, and in 2008, it was a pretty big deal. [Released] through my blog. It kept shutting down servers. It was a really fun time.

M: What creates a compelling story?

VL: It's no secret. The single hardest part about narrative is the script, and it's all about finding the right script. It's a really hard thing to do. You can very easily find a lot of bad scripts. You can find pretty good scripts that need work. But, finding a completely polished script that's ready to shoot and that is also within your budget is very tough thing to do. I'll find some scripts where I think, "this is one of the best movies I've ever seen," but it's going to cost 50 million dollars to make. As a filmmaker today, you've got to be either part writer/director or more of a director/producer, and really bring people together with a variety of skills that can work together to get a film out there.

M: So, you're saying to start with a script first, and build everything from there?

VL: In my opinion, the script is the foundation of anything you do as a narrative storyteller. The biggest mistake you can make is starting with a weak foundation or a weak script because you're not going to have a solid base to rely on.

M: Have you ever seen a film with a good script that wasn't executed well?

VL: Nothing pops to mind. The opposite comes up a lot and is very visible. [laughs]

M: How do you feel the soundtrack caters to the role of movement in picture?

VL: When I was in my teens, I was very drawn to art -- I dabbled a little in architecture, drawing, painting, and music. I was a tenor soloist in the choir, a saxophonist and pianist growing up. Music has been a very big part of my life and one of the compliments that I have gotten from many people that I personally appreciate, is how much music plays a part in any of the commercials or shorts that I’ve directed. I think that sound and music are sometimes up to 50 percent of the experience of a movie. It's amazing how a good soundtrack can completely overtake or give a personality to a scene. If you doubt this, I suggest you watch your favorite scenes and push the mute button. You'll quickly realize how you're not at all into it in the same way -- that you're not feeling it in the same way. I think [the way] music ends up falling in the entire process of filmmaking is as the last layer, other than grading. That's where you really get to accentuate the different inflection points within a piece. It's amazing that music can either hide poor directing or acting, and mistakes you've made. It can elevate any strong content that you've made to an entirely new level. Imagine any Spielberg movie without John Williams. Imagine Jaws without a soundtrack. The music was a central character -- the music was the shark. That feeling that there might something in the dark.

On almost every short movie I've done, I've collaborated with an original composer. I try to save up enough money to set aside for an orchestra of some kind. It doesn't sound as good from a synthesizer. Music adds a layer of authenticity to what you're shooting. When you hear poorly composed music in a film, it can completely takes you out of a scene.

M: How do you feel music can be misused in film?

LV: I think just turn the TV on at 2:00am and watch those really bad television shows. Ask yourself, "Is it the acting? The script? The camera movement? The cutting? The music?" Generally speaking, when you feel the music isn't married with the content -- it's actually bothering you and not immersing you within the scene -- that's when you know there's an issue. As a filmmaker, you need to have a sense of rhythm, inflection, crescendos, decrescendos. [Know] the mood that a piece makes you feel, how that evolves and how you can marry that to screen. I often find existing music to work on an initial edit with -- sometimes even as early as storyboarding -- to use as a rhythmic or tone guide that helps set the pace and feel of a scene. In fact, I don't think I've ever edited anything without a base track. And if I’m lucky enough to get a chance to work with a talented composer and musicians to actually score a piece -- that can often be the final highlight of the entire process for me.

M: How do you move past "demo love"?

VL: Generally speaking, I think there are universal rhythms and transitions in music. So, even if you can't get the same piece as your demo, hopefully you can find or write something that has the same type of evolution within the piece. Filmmaking is about compromise, and working with what you're given. You have to be able to adapt and pivot with what comes up. You have to learn to accept that you might not get that specific track, and be open to finding something else. Or really fight to get the original piece, because if you don't get the right piece, it can truly hurt you. Another important element is being able to communicate with artists and composers in a common language to specify what you are looking to achieve when you’re lucky enough to compose something new -- or even when you’re looking to find an existing piece. Having a musical background has never hurt anyone.

M: What's coming up next for you?

VL: After so many years working on commercials and film, my next step is going back to narrative. I'm doing everything in my power to make a narrative of some kind — either in film, episodic or even VR.