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By Sheri Candler
Originally published on www.thefilmcollaborative.org
There is a lot of talk in independent film circles about the need to “eventize” the cinematic experience. The thought is that audiences are increasingly satisfied with viewing films and other video material on their private devices whenever their schedule permits and the need to leave the house to go to a separate place to watch is becoming an outdated notion, especially for younger audiences. But making your work an event that can only be experienced in a live setting is something few creators are exploring at the moment. Sure, some filmmakers and distributors are adding live Q&As with the director or cast, sometimes in person and sometimes via Skype; discussion panels with local organizations are often included with documentary screenings; and sometimes live musical performances are included featuring the musicians on the film’s soundtrack, but what about work that can ONLY be enjoyed as a live experience? Work that will never appear on DVD or digital outlets? Not only is there an artistic reason for creating such work, but there can be a business reason as well.
In reading a New York Times piece entitled “The one filmmaker who doesn’t want a distribution deal” about the Sundance premiere of Sam Green’s live documentary The Measure of All Things, I was curious to find out why a filmmaker would say he never plans for this work to show on streaming outlets like Netflix, only as a live event piece. I contacted Sam Green and he was kind enough to share his thoughts about why he likes creating for and participating with the audience of his work and why the economics of this form could be much more lucrative for documentary filmmakers. [...]
I feel most filmmakers are looking at this moment in time as an age of opportunity. But having gone through this revolution already in the music business, I feel compelled to tell you why right now we should be questioning everything.
There are countless comparisons between the music and film industries. On the critical side, both traditionally have had an extremely insulated network of good old boy executives who know little or nothing about the creative process, yet try to tell you how to make your art. Both have a history of obnoxious fat cats living in excess. Both still have an endless string of gatekeepers that have a stranglehold on the means of distribution, and who rarely showed much love for independent creators except with lip service at the cool film festivals.
The music industry was perhaps the first to go through the digital transition. For better of for worse, the smaller file sizes of music made it a primary target for piracy over the much larger sizes of films. By watching the mistakes made by the music industry, and having a few years head start to prepare, the film business has really had an enormous advantage over the music business. But this does not mean all is well. [...]
Previously: Music for Movies, Expert Tips, Part I of II
This is Part II of Expert Tips from composer (and Kinonation co-founder) Klaus Badelt. Klaus has scored over 80 films. His work spans Hollywood blockbusters such as Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Catwoman, Poseidon, Rescue Dawn, 16 Blocks, The Recruit, K-19. And a ton of US and European indies, including documentaries, shorts and even video games.
11. Choosing a Composer
When seeking a composer, you’re actually looking for a “filmmaker” to work on a dramatic collaboration — he just happens to be called the “composer.” The worst thing you can do is to ask for demo music for a scene of your film from 5 different composers. Why? Because creating a score is collaborative and if you ask for demos you don’t learn or experience collaboration with the composer. You’re much better off asking for score examples from their previous films. But your main objective should be to find a composer you trust and like…with whom you can talk story first, music last. A good composer must be, above all, emotionally invested in the story you’re telling. [...]
Previously: Whatever It Takes
Some directors believe that music is a full 50% of a film. And that there are fundamentally just 3 or 4 “true” creative inputs to the movie — the writer, the director, the composer…perhaps the editor. Whatever the numbers, movie music — that skillful combination of score and song — has the potential to turn a good story into an amazing audience experience. But how do you musically super-charge an indie film when you don’t have the budget to hire a top composer?
Klaus has scored over 80 films. His work spans Hollywood blockbusters such as Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Catwoman, Poseidon, Rescue Dawn, 16 Blocks, The Recruit, K-19. And a ton of US and European indies, including documentaries, shorts and even video games.
Here’s what Klaus has to say about making the very best — and most economical — music choices for a film.
1. Composer as Filmmaker
The director-composer relationship is that of two filmmakers. It’s not about musical genres, or instruments. It’s about driving the story and emphasizing characters and creating emotion. That’s the role of music in film.
Think about music (both score and songs) at the script-writing stage. Fundamentally, a filmmaker must decide what character development and story arc she wants from each scene. That is, how do you want the audience to feel about this episode? There should be a single, unambiguous answer. i.e. every shot in every scene must have a clear objective in moving the story forward. So thinking about the music at this stage– and making musical choices — actually helps propel and clarify the script-writing process. Deciding where the music in each scene starts — and where it fades — forces you to think with greater clarity about story shapes & arcs. [...]
guest post by Brian Godshall
I know how important music can be to your projects.I wanted to point out some new developments in the music business that may prove advantageous for any upcoming media you are producing. You may already be aware of some of these and some may be new to you. I hope this information is helpful. After you’ve taken a look at this, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
1. Putting brands together with music and indie films I have been working on some ideas and connections to put together a brand or brands with music and indie films. Specifically I am proposing that an advertiser can pay for some or all of the music rights in an indie film in exchange for co-promotional opportunities. If you have questions or are interested in this concept, please contact me directly. [...]
The world keeps getting better and better — at least in terms how we can create better work and get it seen. Today, has brought some more good news.
Blake Whitman, Vimeo’s VP of Creative Development, announces Vimeo’s New Music Store:
In addition to being Vimeo’s VP of Creative Development, I also make videos. Something that I’ve been struggling with for a while now, is how to find music that I can legally use in my videos. I search and search and search every music related site on the net and it ends up taking WAY too much of my time. And even when I find that needle in the haystack, figuring out how to actually use the song (legally that is) is a whole other story. Do I contact the musician? The label? Do I need an attorney and who’s going to pay for that?!
So we had an idea. Wouldn’t it be great to create a place on Vimeo to easily discover, license and download music? Well, the obvious answer is OF COURSE, but we wanted to make sure it would be easy and intuitive to use. So we decided to create Music Store, a music library powered by two great curated music providers, Audiosocket and the Free Music Archive. The library allows anyone to search tracks by lots of different criteria and provides license agreements right there on the site. You can purchase and/or download music easily and then throw it in an editor and start editing!
Check the key features:
• Over 45,000 songs
•Three types of licenses: 1) Creative Commons licenses which are free (yes free), 2) Personal use, Non-commercial, web-use licenses for the casual user which are $1.99 per track; and 3) Commercial, web-use licenses for professional users which are $98 per track.
•Searchable by over 100 features like tempo, mood, theme, genre and instrumentation
Vimeo’s mission is to inspire and empower video creators. Vimeo Music Store is just another step in our effort to help people make better videos! Check it out here:
Music is a big deal for every filmmaker. But every Producer also knows that come music clearance time, money is running out, nerves have been scraped raw, and it is a hell of a lot of work and time to get the clearances in place. And usually you can not get paid until you complete delivery, and that includes delivery of the music licenses.
Those dedicated, music-loving souls whom do the clearances are one of the many unsung heroes of the film biz. I have had the pleasure of working with Brian Godshall on several of my films, and he is one of the really great ones. Today, he extends his generosity to share some of the latest developments of where the film and music world meet.
You know how important music can be to your projects. So we know you want to know all the new developments in the music business that may prove advantageous for an upcoming media you are producing. You may already be aware of some of these and some may be new to you. After you’ve taken a look at this list, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
1. As of 6/10 Rumblefish makes available some music of theirs for free/cheap to video makers for you tube productions; www.friendlymusic.com; You can pick from 400,000 songs for $1.99 per video – they developed an app to make it easy and cheap to use music on websites, etc. rumblefish.com;
2. Per music blog/website Digital Music News– 4/29/11 — music focused Facebook deal – businesses can now reward visiting customers with free Mp3s – thanks to Facebook check-in incentive system created by Neurotic Media; neuroticmedia.com;
3. Mix Match Music allows music fans to make their own mixes of master recordings that are available through this site. Perhaps this may be a valuable tool to promote the music in your next project. mixmatchmusic.com;
4. Branding – some of the major record labels are joining up with an entity which has something to promote, such as a film, and a “sponsor” through a branding effort. The sponsor will then pay for the music download when a fan of the project goes onto the site and wants to download new music. target=”_blank”>hipdigitalmedia.com;
5. Per Digital Music News 8/25/11 – ReverbNation – has just launched “promote it” a Facebook-based ad platform that offer customized targeting, landing pages, and far deeper interactivity reports. ReverbNation is one of several companies to use the updated Facebook ad platform. Perhaps this can be used in your next music based project. reverbnation.com;
6. Shazam – It all started in 2002 – even before the advent of smartphones – Shazam launched a simple service designed to connect people in the UK with music they heard but didn’t know. Since then, Shazam has come of age and moved beyond music discovery and has now evolved into one of the world’s most recognized mobile consumer brands. The launch pad to our success has been our core music recognition technology that enables anyone with a mobile phone to identify music that is playing – even under noisy conditions – wherever they are, simply by Shazaming it. The clip is run through our database of more than 10 million tracks (extending back to the ’50s) to find an exact fingerprint match. shazam.com;
7. Just for fun you may want to check out THE BEATLES who granted use of their music to the site whymusicmatters.com; Their 2 minute video promotes the legal use of music. There are also short films with music from, among others, Louis Armstrong, The Jam, Kate Bush and Sigur Ros.
8. The President of NMPA Calls for Blanket Licensing of Mechanical and Sync Rights – The article below basically talks about how the Harry Fox Agency/NMPA are in discussions with the record labels and digital companies to revise legislation pertaining to some of the synch (film, TV and other visual media) uses of music. It may result in faster and more economical fees being charged to the producers of such audio-visual media. This was reported on various websites such as Billboard and indie-music.com.
June 16, 2011 By Ed Christman (@edchristman), New York
At the National Music Publishers Association’s annual meeting yesterday (June 15), president and CEO David Israelite urged members that now is the time to create U.S. blanket-licensing solutions for digital music service providers seeking mechanical and synchronization rights.
He said that music publishers are facing “three big challenges:” they have to continue to fight copyright theft and infringement; they have to help legal digital sites to prosper; and they have to make sure that publishers get their fair share of that prosperity.
But he said that prosperity could remain elusive if the industry continues to license the way it has been. “If you look at the challenges of the industry,” the way we license doesn’t work: it is broken.”
As a solution, Israelite said that now is the time to revisit the SIRA Act (Section 115 Reform Act) of 2006, which never made its way successfully through Congress to become the law of the land.
He urged that legislation be crafted that would create designated agents to act on behalf of all music publishers for synch and mechanical rights. He said that it didn’t have to be one agent, it could be a small number similar to the set-up of ASCAP, SESAC and BMI. As long as they agents were competitive and publishers had the right to align with any one of the appointed agents they so chose, and could switch if they wanted to, that would fill the void.
Otherwise, he warned, the music industry would lose out on creative business models, which might never launch because of the complicated licensing situation. Moreover, Israelite noted that the reform would only be in circumstances where the user requires blanket licenses. Publishers could still cut individual deals in situations that make sense.
He cited the Youtube litigation as a situation warranting some kind of mass synchronization vehicle. In that litigation, music publishers and other entertainment rights holders including Viacom are seeking to overturn a court decision in favor of the website. That decision said that when user-generated video’s containing copyrighted materials are uploaded to Youtube by users other than the rights owners, the site is protected by the fair-use provision provided by the safe harbor element of the Digital Millennium’s Copyright Act.
But what if Youtube conceded and wanted to be properly licensed? “We wouldn’t be able” to provide them with an easy solution for mass synchronization licensing, he said. That’s why its time to revisit the SIRA Act.
He made the point that in revisiting the SIRA Act, other music publishing issues might also be resolved. For example, music publishers don’t think it is fair that they get only 9 cents from a $1.29 list-priced downloaded song while the master rights owners get 81 cents.
Later, Israelite told Billboard that the NMPA was working with record labels and digital companies on how to draft such legislation. “We are far along in concept, but there is nothing on paper yet,” he said. The industry won’t even reach out to Congress until everything is negotiated and ready to go. “This shouldn’t be controversial [legislation],” he said. “We will all come together to support it.”
Earlier, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton opened the meeting with a keynote address that began with the admission: “I am here because I feel your industry is under assault from IP thieves and counterfeiters,’” Morton said. “We haven’t done enough about it.” But that has changed with the current Obama administration he said.
Among the steps the administration has taken is the creation of an IP Center in Arlington Va., which includes not only ICE staffers but personnel from Interpol and other agencies from countries like Canada and Mexico.
In one of its more controversial actions, ICE has been targeting infringing websites and seizing the assets.
As a result he said a lot of other sites came down just because they thought we were going to go after them. When ICE started putting seizure banners on sites, it had an unanticipated reaction. Even more people went to visit the sites to see the seizure banners. What ICE started doing was putting up educational messages about copyright infringement.
Ken Feinberg, the managing partner of Feinberg Rozen lawfirm, gave the other keynote address. He was appointed the special master of the administration of payout from the pending-and-unmatched funds. So far, $161 million has been paid out, to over 1,200 music publishers, he reported to NMPA members.
He called the pending-and unmatched settlement that he administered unusual because very rarely is he presented with a negotiated solution on the front-end.
There was one big problem, he conceded. That occurred when he realized there were over 2,350 songs with “conflicts”, where ownership claims in each of those songs added up to more than 100% ownership. But today, through privately held negotiations, that has been reduced to 52 conflicts, which he labeled a tremendous achievement.
Finally, beyond the settlement, Feinberg noted that while there are thousands of trade associations in Washington very few have more input than the NMPA.
Brian Godshall has handled music clearances and/or licensing for over 15 years for many dozens of independent films including the more recent movies PLEASE GIVE and JACK GOES BOATING as well as past films such as TOWELHEAD, BORN INTO BROTHELS, GARDEN STATE, GUNNIN’ FOR THAT #1 SPOT, KINSEY, THE NAMESAKE, SONGCATCHER and many others. He looks forward to new ideas and changes in the independent film industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: bgodshallcleamusic.com;
Ted adds: “By the way, I don’t usually give out this sort of blanket endorsements, but: HIRE THIS GUY. You won’t be sorry. He’s worth his weight (and rate) in gold.