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involved in making music for a short film with big hollywood peeps, some questions
Old 16th July 2012
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
messiahwannabe's Avatar
 

involved in making music for a short film with big hollywood peeps, some questions

ok quick background: fairly big time hollywood assistant director, making his first feature short, kickstarter just came through. my bands music was prominently featured in the trailer/promo, everyone dug it, and the director (a very nice guy) expressed interest in me submitting further music for the short (though not scoring it, which is cool - i have zero experience with that) however, i'm not exactly Mr. Smooth Networking Guy, and i'm kinda nervous about putting the wrong foot forward interacting with Hollywood Dudes. maybe i shouldn't worry, but this is sorta maybe possibly My Big Break and stuff, so yeah, i don't want to **** it up. i've seen entourage, and that kinda shmoozy **** terrifies me lol

so, i have 2 questions for anyone working in the film industry in a professional capacity:

1) time for the first email post kickstarting success: along with general congrats and asking for the script, i've also been advised by a friend (also working on the project, also very very new to filmmaking) to bring up money right off the bat. now, despite being a professional musician who usually gets paid for ****, to be honest i barely give a **** about the money here. i want some doors to open, and some practical experience in making music for a film, money is a distant third in the equation. on the other hand, i don't want to look like a desperate shmuck who doesn't have anything to offer that's worth money. how do i express that in hollywood-ese? and should i actually i mention it in the first email?

2) i'm also just looking for general tips on contributing music to a film. etiquette, creative process, what directors are looking for, what sort of direction to ask for from the director, how many emails is it cool to send in a week, what's standard turnaround time for a music request, what should i be asking here that hasn't even occurred to me, blogs, websites and forums that might give me more info/tutorials, etc etc
Old 16th July 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
kennybro's Avatar
Don't overthink it. Be professional. Be precise. Be on time. Don't brings friends to the set. Don't stand around talking on your phone or texting during a meeting or shoot. Give the situation your full attention.

Set a reasonable fee for yourself. If they won't pay it, maybe negotiate, or just say "thanks, bye-bye."

Communicate only when you have something of importance to communicate or ask. Don't fail to communicate something important; no "bad news" surprises, ever!

Don't be a schmuck or a PITA. Do your job, be professional, and always be on time with everything. Be worth what you ask for your services by delivering quality product and by making the producers' lives easier every chance you get. Avoid becoming a problem. They've got enough of those already.

Don't worry about Entourage. That's life condensed to fiction.
Old 16th July 2012
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post
ok quick background: fairly big time hollywood assistant director, making his first feature short, kickstarter just came through.
just for the sake of clarity, an AD in Hollywood is the on set task master. He is the a**hole that keeps everyone and everything moving. he is the designated a**hole so that the director does not have to be. my AD saved my life on my first feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post
my bands music was prominently featured in the trailer/promo, everyone dug it, and the director (a very nice guy) expressed interest in me submitting further music for the short (though not scoring it, which is cool - i have zero experience with that) however, i'm not exactly Mr. Smooth Networking Guy, and i'm kinda nervous about putting the wrong foot forward interacting with Hollywood Dudes.
Hollywood dudes are just like you. Everyone has a job to do it. It's business, just be professional.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post
maybe i shouldn't worry, but this is sorta maybe possibly My Big Break and stuff, so yeah, i don't want to **** it up. i've seen entourage, and that kinda shmoozy **** terrifies me lol
Hollywood is what you make it out to be, like Luke entering the cave and facing Darth Vader. You chose what you want it to be. I've been Los Angeles for over twenty years and have been working in mainstream "Hollywood" for the past 11 years.

I understand your anxiety, but just be you, and everything else will work out just fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post
so, i have 2 questions for anyone working in the film industry in a professional capacity:

1) time for the first email post kickstarting success: along with general congrats and asking for the script, i've also been advised by a friend (also working on the project, also very very new to filmmaking) to bring up money right off the bat. now, despite being a professional musician who usually gets paid for ****, to be honest i barely give a **** about the money here. i want some doors to open, and some practical experience in making music for a film, money is a distant third in the equation. on the other hand, i don't want to look like a desperate shmuck who doesn't have anything to offer that's worth money. how do i express that in hollywood-ese? and should i actually i mention it in the first email?
Ask IF there is money. If there is, AND they can kick you down some you'd appreciate it, but if not it's OK. This is a SHORT FILM no one makes money on short films. They make REPUTATIONS.

Understand the common conventions of film music licensing. LICENSE your songs, do not grant anyone any ownership or transfer of rights in your music. License the songs for $1 if you have too, it would be a great jesture towards building a relationship with these people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post
2) i'm also just looking for general tips on contributing music to a film. etiquette, creative process, what directors are looking for, what sort of direction to ask for from the director, how many emails is it cool to send in a week, what's standard turnaround time for a music request, what should i be asking here that hasn't even occurred to me, blogs, websites and forums that might give me more info/tutorials, etc etc
Send them a link to your music to download. Tell them you are super excited about it. Check in maybe once a week to see how it's going.

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture, welcome to Hollywood and good luck.
Old 16th July 2012
  #4
Rack gear is right on. So I'll just say, "yeah, what he said." instead of typing it all out again. LOL But I'll add my two cents too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post

1) time for the first email post kickstarting success: along with general congrats and asking for the script, i've also been advised by a friend (also working on the project, also very very new to filmmaking) to bring up money right off the bat. now, despite being a professional musician who usually gets paid for ****, to be honest i barely give a **** about the money here. i want some doors to open, and some practical experience in making music for a film, money is a distant third in the equation. on the other hand, i don't want to look like a desperate shmuck who doesn't have anything to offer that's worth money. how do i express that in hollywood-ese? and should i actually i mention it in the first email?
There is no such thing as a "feature short" just to point out. Shorts are just that, "short". Feature films are full length films that bring people out to see them...

also, Short films have almost no money. They are basically fancy "pitch" devices to hopefully get the film turned into a "feature length" film (meaning 90min) or calling cards to help those involved get more paid work. I've done a lot of shorts and most had VERY famous actors and people attached. Most of them go nowhere. One I worked on that starred Barry Corbin (War Games, Northern Exposure, No Country for Old Men, Anger Management (TV Show w/ Charlie Sheen)) has been picked up by a production company and is being turned into a feature film. All the other ones haven't.

Working on shorts is like working on demos in the music world. A famous music producer might do demos with 10 bands he thinks are good, and out of those 10 he might only get one signed. It's the same kind of thing with shorts. All caliber of people work on them to either try to hone their skills, use it as a calling card or as a way to try and branch out into something new. Like a well-known comedic actor might do a couple shorts that are dramas so his agent can use the shorts as demos of what the actor can do in dramas...and so on...

So, while this opportunity is exciting for you, don't read into it too much. The big thing is to just make friends with the director/producer. Be yourself, and just hang.

Don't be afraid to ask if there is any money for the music, but don't be surprised when he says "no".

One thing you should do if your music is used is capitalize on having your song in the film. Whenever it screens anywhere even remotely near you, especially in film festivals, GO TO THE SCREENINGS. Also let the director know you want to go and try to meet up with and hang with the director/producer while there. Usually they screen a bunch of shorts in a row and then do Q&A with the directors and producers and then people just mingle. Most of the time the Directors/Producers will acknowledge anyone from the cast/crew who are at the screening (pointing you out in the audience). If the short is good and your song sounds good in it, you'll be able to hang with other directors who also did shorts at the festival (and other directors and producers who are at the festival), they've just seen your work, and so when talking to them you have a calling card. It can sometimes lead to placing your music in other films.



Quote:
2) i'm also just looking for general tips on contributing music to a film. etiquette, creative process, what directors are looking for, what sort of direction to ask for from the director, how many emails is it cool to send in a week, what's standard turnaround time for a music request, what should i be asking here that hasn't even occurred to me, blogs, websites and forums that might give me more info/tutorials, etc etc
First off, since the director said "you can submit more songs for consideration into the film" you have to keep that in perspective. It doesn't sound like he is asking you to write songs specifically for the film. He's just saying, "hey if you have more already done, send it over and we'll check it out and see if we can use it..." So how can it be used?

Well... there's two types of music for film. Score and all other licensed music. Score is done very much hand in hand with the director and the company producing the film usually owns it (Star Wars Theme is owned by George Lucas, not John Willams, etc). What you are doing is providing already finished music for "licensing" into the film. That is a really important distinction because you still retain ownership of the music and you are just granting permission to the Director/Producer to use your music in his short film. There isn't really much back and forth and creative process since your track is done and it is just being cut into the film. Your song might be used as "Source" music, meaning it is intended to be coming from something on the set (a radio, TV, etc) or it could be featured underscore (where it is separate from the production environment but helps tell the story or convey the mood and is in the forefront of the audio mix, like Linkin Park in Transformers) or it could be background underscore (it just plays under everything else that is going on but isn't attached to something on set).

Most of the time, there really isn't a lot of back and forth between the director and you about your song since the song is already done and mixed and he is picking it because of the way he already likes the finished track. You can offer to tweak things if needed. It's not uncommon to change the a word or two, or provide a no vocal version of the song. But remember he is picking your song because he likes the way it already sounds. so if it isn't broken, don't try to fix it.

If you are writing a new song just for this film, that is a different story. And that is something you can clarify with the director. A simple, "did you want me to send you things my band has already finished or were you interested in talking about my band writing a song specifically for the film?" But from what you wrote it doesn't sound he is expecting you to write a song specifically for the film. It sounds like he wants you to send any other albums or songs you already have finished and if they like them and can find a use for any of them, they will put it in the film.

And finally, keep in mind most of the time "Big Breaks" come in very small steps. While this film may or may not be "it". meeting and becoming friends with the director could be the "it" and not the film itself. Since this guy is a well-known AD, he knows people and works on projects... him mentioning to a director while shooting a $100mil film, "you know, I know this band who has a song that might be great for this shot..." is a bigger "break" than the short film in and of itself. Or, if this guy is able to use this short to move up from being an AD to a director, then you might be able to get some music in films he's directing that have a budget. SO realize this short isn't a big leap but just a small step towards potential work in the future and just be cool, be an easy hang, be friendly, and see where it goes.
Old 16th July 2012
  #5
here's a band in NYC making a go at it on indie films:
Fall On Your Sword
Old 17th July 2012
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
messiahwannabe's Avatar
 

wow, thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses! very much appreciated.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
Working on shorts is like working on demos in the music world. A famous music producer might do demos with 10 bands he thinks are good, and out of those 10 he might only get one signed.
yup, that's exactly how i'm looking at this, i'm just excited to be the equivalent of one of the "10 bands" as per this example - getting my name out, something tangible to put on my resume, etc even on a film festival circuit kind of level. my stuff is quite niche and i'd be thrilled if a few film/tv people put me on a list of people they might contact for music in that niche as a result of seeing the short.

anyway, you guys are right, i'm probably overthinking some of this, especially the money stuff. but i do appreciate any and all advice about working in this area - i just want to make the most of the opportunity. thanks again!
Old 17th July 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Amber's Avatar
 

One thing that I think is worth doing is asking what the budget is for music and going from there.

It's easy to undersell yourself. Some people will happily pay $20 for lunch everyday like it's nothing but others wouldn't.

In the past I've been happy to accept a certain figure in my head but when I've asked what the budget for music is, been told it 4x as much and been paid that.

The short films can sometimes be worth doing. I let some guy use a bunch of my old thriller/horror tracks for free that I just wanted to move on from. Film went on to win around 20 awards from film festivals all over the world.
Old 18th July 2012
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by messiahwannabe View Post

yup, that's exactly how i'm looking at this, i'm just excited to be the equivalent of one of the "10 bands" as per this example
No, I think you misunderstood me. In that example, you aren't one of the 10 bands, you are one of the musicians brought in to play on one of the albums as a favor (i.e. for free) for the producer. I should have made that more clear...

In my analogy the:

Film Director/Producer = Music Producer
Short Films = Music Demos/artists
You and your band = Session musician brought in on spec to help the producer make the demo.

Make sense? So the "10 bands" are the short films this AD will do to help him transition into being a director instead of an AD. The short films are the ones that get "signed" (i.e. turned into feature films). The AD moves up in "Rank" to director and makes money off selling the movie idea to a studio and directing these movies for them. You as the band who contributed some music to one of the shorts, you are like the studio musician that got called in and hope that this guy will call you again (this time paying you) once he moves up to doing feature films.
Old 19th July 2012
  #9
This is a great thread! Very cool to see some working film guys weighing in.
Old 2nd August 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
messiahwannabe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
You as the band who contributed some music to one of the shorts, you are like the studio musician that got called in and hope that this guy will call you again (this time paying you) once he moves up to doing feature films.
works for me!

plus, i think the music on this film will stand out a bit - did i mention the most popular kickstarter option by a country mile was the one that included the free cd of "balinese/indonesian fusion music" even though it was $10 more than the one that got just the free dvd of the film?

not to toot my own horn or anything LOL but if i'm "the studio musician who got called in", i'm hoping to completely shred on my alloted solo and get some buzz off the track

within the confines of serving the film and giving the director what he's asking for, of course!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fastlanestoner View Post
Very cool to see some working film guys weighing in.
agreed - thanks once more to everyone for their input
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