Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fascinating Four

Film Scores/Incidental Music
The art of incorporating music into a motion picture is fascinating for me because of the ability to evoke highly intense emotions in the audience. Music is used to enhance the moods of different scenes and it connects the viewer to the story so that they almost feel they are part of it. The music is meant to be subtle so that it does not distort the idea behind the film but at the same time directs the feelings of a viewer. This is why one of my favorites for the 2014 Oscar Original Score nominees is John Williams for the movie The Book Thief. He has composed music for movies such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Saving Private Ryan, and most recently Lincoln. This being his 49th nomination, he has won five Oscars for Schindler’s List, Star Wars, Jaws, Fiddler on the Roof and The Extra-Terrestrial.
It is surprising to learn that at first, background music was used to drown out the noise of the projector and it became a standard practice to have musician play according to the script during a screening. With my interest in the music industry, knowing how to integrate music and film gives me a wider perspective of the opportunities for potential clients.

Voice acting
It is interesting to me how animated movies come to life through voice acting. So much so, that I find it fascinating to watch those little snippets of the voice actors in studio recording their lines. Casting is so different in this case since no one cares how you look as long as you sound perfect for a role. The actors are usually videotaped while recording for reference during other production stages. Voice actors are expected to be aware of the way they sound to others otherwise, artistry will be limited since there is no change. Change is necessary in order to adapt to different characters and situations the goal being to sound believable as a character [VAM].  
Few realize that voice acting allows one to play roles that they would probably have very little chance of playing in live production. It is also a form of acting that lets you do what you love while maintaining some privacy and anonymity. Actors rely on the social skills developed over their lifetime to bring believability to their performances.
I learned a fun fact, that several DreamWorks Animation directors lend their voices to Madagascar characters. Megamind director Tom McGrath plays the lead penguin, Skipper; Shrek 2 director Conrad Vernon voices Mason the monkey; and Puss In Boots director Chris Miller gives voice to Kowalski the penguin. Chris Knights, associate editor for Shrek Forever After, gives voice to the cute and cuddly penguin, Private.[DWA]

Hollywood Movies in Kenya
Movie libraries in Kenya are the business of the day. High grossing and enjoyable, it has become one of the most lucrative ways to make fast money. But what is interesting to many foreigners is the fact that Kenyans, especially in Nairobi can walk into a movie library a day after the release of a major film in Hollywood and get themselves a copy. All it takes is a business permit and a license from the Kenya Film Classification Board. Unless a Hollywood director walked down the streets of the city, no one would stop a vendor from selling as many copies of the same movie. When it comes to the Kenyan produced films, the fine on piracy is so steep, that it takes months before you would get a copy. It is my opinion that, at least someone benefits from digital piracy. Michael Moyer refers to a study that establishes that people turn to digital piracy when that is the only way to view the content. This is mostly because going to the movies is expensive and is considered a luxury among the middle class of the country and secondly, it is a business that seems to be growing the economy.[Ebsco]

Social Media
Self-promotion has become the norm on today’s social media. The essence should be to inspire others into action and to have hope. However there is a fine line between self-promotion and self-glorification, which more often than not is crossed creating opportunity for criticism. According to Emily Dreyfuss, humility is out. Self-advocacy is in. Although this is unconventional, it works for the entertainment industry and quite well. For upcoming artists, social media is where they spread the word about their talents and hope their music reaches an important ear so to speak. I learned that directed self-promotion is more effective. It works because once you tell the world to watch out for you, they actually do. Tell people to listen to your music or watch your video, they will.
It is essential to learn how to do it right and use social media to your advantage and not just for keeping up with friends, family and embarrassing photos.
Social media is especially important in the entertainment industry to grow a fan base maintain relevance.[Cohen]

Artist & Repertoire 101

On this blog post, I explain some of the things its entails to make a successful A&R rep in today music industry. The ability to identify new creative talent and developing it into a strong voice in the music business can sometimes be taken for granted. Some of the best-known A&R executives had to use different approaches to make it to where they are now. Chris Anokute, founder Young Forever Inc. believes in passion, mentorship and research were some of the basics that helped him grow in the business. He found a mentor by chance in John Houston, Whitney Houston's father early on in his life and used the chance to learn everything he could from the theatrical manager. He was passionate and prepared.

In the music business, building contacts and having an effective team working for an artist is key to success. Aaron Bay-Schuck, Senior VP of A&R at Atlantic Records believes this is an important aspect that often gets overlooked. Having a reliable team will definitely ensure creativity is fresh and new ideas are brought to the table.
For most of the artists who have had successful careers, they are typically involved with a team that has been with them from the get-go and this nurtured loyalty and an honest perspective in their development.
Many of the A&R executives start their careers at entry-level positions while others collaborate with artists early on before getting them signed. Commitment to your ideas will often bare fruit. The ability to realize an opportunity and being ready for it is important. Being rather an informal industry, your first impression determines your future in the business.

An A&R representative understands who an artist is, who they want to be and they facilitate this process. It takes a long time to gain success since it takes a long time for the project to come together.

Aaron also swears by networking as the key. Having great relationships is the most important thing to build trust. You build this by spending time with the artists and the team, in studio and out. Networking also broadens the spectrum of potential clientele.