Finding Music

Caroline of Virginia

From the get-go, I have always understood the importance of music in film and video media.

I made my first independent film in 1999, completed the first pass in 2000 and re-edited in 2002 when I got access to new technology. In 2002 I made my second film. In 2005 my third. In 2008 my forth, 2009 my fifth and sixth and so on. Regardless of the difficulty of the production of the intricacy of the script, the only constant with all of these productions is that it was easy for me to acquire music that I could lay into the soundtrack of each project. For Sixteen Stories, my first movie, I was able to get a friend from a neighboring town to compose three original pieces and on top of that I acquired, free of charge, the sync rights to a handful of relatively popular songs that were getting airplay in the Portland, Maine area the year I shot it. For the second film, Hero for a Day, I once again was able to obtain an original score and had a new score re-done when I re-cut the project in 2009. Every single project I’ve tackled, I’ve managed to pull through with some of the most kick-ass music tracks an indie filmmaker could expect on a no-budget production.

In 2011, for the first time, I paid for a music score when I hired a very talented musician named Peter Dmitriyev to compose themes for my medium length fairy tale film Caroline of Virginia. Additionally, I was able to acquire the sync rights to three different pop songs that to this day I’m still listening to on my MP3 player. Lipstick Lies had one of the best scores I’ve ever had in a movie, a variety of original compositions by the incredibly versatile Omer Ben-Zvi. Omer managed to mix an old fashioned sound with a contemporary feel to create an emotional work that aided in holding up what I consider to be a very fragile story. His cue in the last scene of the film plays perfectly over Samantha Cole’s performance, which is heartbreaking and inspiring. Omer went on to create an original piece for the mission video I directed for the American Lung Association, again adding a level of production value to a remarkably underfunded project and making my work seem a million times more professional.

Something has changed in the past two years since then. I have had the darnedest of trouble finding music and I do not know why. With my feature film The Spaceship in post-production, I’ve been prowling the forums and reaching out to everyone I’ve ever known, in an effort to find the right tracks for scenes that require different genre songs. Because of the kinetic nature of the story and its hop from one location to another, I have made it a point to find music from artists based out of or at least originally from the areas in which scenes are set. These are in no way areas of the globe that are strapped artistically – Maine for one, has numerous indie bands with professional sounding records that could easily be made available for consideration and New York… well get outta here, we know there are musicians a plenty. So why is it that this one film seems to be getting the snub over all of these other short and experimental projects?

I would love some of your ideas on how to find good, original, independently produced music and if you’re a filmmaker, your experience in dealing with the situation of music, specifically score.