Post Production

Page 3

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The Editing Page

Music Tells A Story



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Fairly early on in the editing process we began our search for a composer for Cherry.   But they were way ahead of us: by the start of production we were already getting unsolicited CD's and tapes.  Some may have read about the film in Variety, others may have stumbled across our website.   Some, I think, just knew.

In our ongoing effort to avoid stepping on one another's toes by logically dividing the duties of the director, Jon and I decided that working with the composer would be my job, while he would concentrate on conceiving, writing and recording ADR (additional dialogue recording) for many of the actors and voice-over for Aleksa Palladino, who plays Darcy in the film.

The first step in the process was to buy and listen to as many scores for romantic comedies that I could lay my hands on.  In this endeavor the internet was a useful tool (see, it's not just a big waste of time!).  A search led me to numerous sites listing scores and places to buy them (and also, inadvertently, to the Land of oZ -- a good place to waste time).  Once I found music that sounded right, we did a temp score which I knew would  prove invaluable in the initial conversations with our composer; it allowed me to express in music what I didn't have the vocabulary to say in words (although it was never about imitating someone else's music, it was about getting the tone right).   And all the while, the piles of unsolicited music grew taller.

By the time I was prepared to actually sit down and listen to all the material that had been sent to us, there was a stack of 45 submissions (which included about 15 CD's that we had requested from agents, etc.).  As I surveyed the mountain of cassettes, CD's, videotapes and brochures, it became clear that composing scores for films is a very competitive business.

The presentations ranged from cassettes in a jiffy bag with a hand-scrawled note to custom-made CD's with 4-color labels mounted alongside slick brochures in molded plastic cases.  But, none of that mattered.  The most unsophisticated packaging could contain the work of a genius, just as the most elaborate presentation could not mask mediocre music.   It was time to listen.

Weeks went by, the stack grew smaller, and my notes grew longer.  I figured out pretty quickly that I would not have a prayer of remembering what any of the music sounded like unless I kept detailed notes on what I heard.  And throughout the process came the endless calls from various composers and (for the lucky ones) their agents.   "No, I haven't made a decision yet."  "Yes, you can send an updated CD."  "No, please don't call again, I'll be sure to let you know when we decide" (and they'd call again anyway).

Finally, it came down to two or three from the pile.  Each had a CD of really good music, but none was exactly what we were looking for in the score for Cherry.   But how could they be?  All of the music was written for other projects.  Interestingly, almost all of the finalists offered to score a scene for free, an offer which I gladly accepted -- what better way to find out what they could do for our film?

The choice was easy in the end.  Joel Goodman not only demonstrated through his musical choices that he understood the film, but in the course of several telephone conversations and meetings, he proved himself to be an easy guy to get along with.  And, when he watched the film for the first time, he laughed.  Frequently.  So, Joel got the job.

You can visit Joel's website by going to www.hifiproductions.com.

- Joseph Pierson
 
2/02/99

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