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October 22, 2009
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I tried to take this week off of my new project in a way. I’m a little burned out, at least creatively, so I wanted to take a break before delving into the sound mix, plus I needed a score and finding the right composer was eluding me.

Part of the problem for me is that this is the first project I have ever made that I did not already know what kind of music I wanted. I was completely and totally without a clue as to what I wanted for music.

I am a former musician. From the time I was 5 years old and began tinkering with the piano, and later saxophone, guitars, keyboards, drums, and virtually ever instrument on the planet (sans the harmonica that ultimately defeated me as the one instrument I could not even begin to get a real note out of), I only wanted to write film scores. The first 45RPM I owned was STAR WARS MAIN TITLE and a B-Side of CANTINA BAND. Until my late 20’s, this was the singular goal of my entire life to write music for movies. I gave it up when I started writing and directing and I do NOT miss it, not even a little.



Every movie I’ve ever made, I had some idea or notion as to what I wanted musically. Even if I gave up my preference for that of the composers, I at least had a starting point that could always fall back on. Now, this movie stumped me. The tone of the film is odd enough, but I was without even a single direction to go with. I tried several temp tracks, and nothing worked. I even screened the current cut at Indie Club Columbus this past Monday with temp music. That made it evident that I needed just the right music more than anything.

Since last week I started talking to Bill Wandel (www.billwandel.com) the composer who did the action music for HORRORS OF WAR. He’s a pro and does this as his sole income, so I generally don’t pester him for my low to no pay shorts, but this is the introduction to a new feature film. I need to pull out the stops and make this as good as I can. The music needs to match Greg Sabo’s cinematography and all the actors’ performances, all of which are top notch.



Bill got the chance to see the cut, placed ever so secretly online sans any temp music; don’t want to influence any compositions with outside music, plus I wasn’t 100% sold on the temp music (hence the term “temp”). That’s not to say the quality of the temp music isn’t good, but it wasn’t written to match the mood of MY movie.

I wrote out my spotting session in an email. That means I wrote down the time codes of where I felt the music should start and stop, and also places where I thought if Bill wanted to try something musically, to go ahead and try it. He said he only had 2 days to get this done, but he’d try.

Yesterday morning I got the email with a link to music files and that was a mere 16 hours later. What I wasn’t prepared for was the perfect score. The style was modern and familiar, and yet I never would have thought of it. The moods and melodies are perfect. Basically, he says with the music what I wanted to convey to the audience about how to feel about the movie I have. Because of how complex and strange my story is, Bill Wandel’s score set the tone right from the start and it will be hard for the audience NOT to be in the right frame of mind that I intended.

My aforementioned aspirations to be a composer aside; sometimes music still knocks me on my ass. If ever I needed proof that I never need pick up an instrument ever again, Bill Wandel’s music is my proof. We share a love of several film score cats, and his talents equal any one of them.



Sound is 50% of the experience of any movie. Music is 25-49% of that (variables on the scene, dialogue, and other sounds of any given moment of a movie). This is how important music is to a movie. This music has me so freakin’ jazzed; there will be no time off. I foresee some late nights and weekend hours working on audio mix and finishing this sucker off ASAP. Also, I have found many film festival submission deadlines that I intend to make this month.

It’s amazing to me how much this reinvigorates. The music has generated a lot of creative juices and now I have to change my underwear.

Too bad I also booked a shoot Friday for two new podcasts, one a general helpful film tip version, and another set of short film specific video podcasts featuring my shorts past and present. I have cast My Sexy Girlfriend Veronica ™ because let’s face it; people would rather look at her than me. I have to put my ego in check and think of the greater good.

Has anyone else noticed that I’m getting really good at using the semicolon in my blog?

- Peter John Ross
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