One day, while I was digging through my library for source musiccandidates for a film project, an event in Nashville was brought to myattention by Andrea Pizzano, the person who keeps all of the projectcraziness running smoothly in this office. It was the 5th AnnualNashville Screenwriters Conference. I knew that Andrea wasseriously working on a TV show treatment and I wondered why she thoughtthat I might want to check it out. Then I spotted a few music-relatedpanels. The one of greatest interest was simply titled “Music andthe Movies,” assembled by music supervisor Anastasia Brown. Itwas held at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The panelists included music and film industry impresario MilesCopeland (The Copeland Group, Firstars Management); musicsupervisor/consultant P.J. Bloom (HBO Films, and projects with JohnFrankenheimer, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison, Ridley Scott, etc.);screenwriter/musician Les Bohem (Steven Spielberg-produced SciFiChannel series, Taken); music supervisor/artist manager EdGerrard (projects with Wes Craven, Steve Miner, et al; his ImpactArtist Management clients include Dr. John, Angelique Kidjo, Olu Dara,Gipsy Kings); composer/musician Terence Blanchard (film music creditsinclude Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, MalcolmX, etc., and a jazz artist on Blue Note Records); and musicattorney Don Welty (senior counsel for Music for Buena Vista MotionPicture Group). Brown — whose music supervision/consultingcredits have included Charlie's War, Taken and the featuredocumentary The Dance — moderated. Brown also previouslymanaged country artists Keith Urban and John Berry, and functioned asA&R for Ark21, signing Waylon Jennings and Leon Russell.
The high turn-out clearly demonstrated that there are many people inNashville who are deep into working with music for film, either placingsongs or scoring compositions.
“Les [Bohem] really had the vision to do this panel, becausethere are so many great songs written in Nashville, and Les sees themlike they are mini-screenplays,” says Brown. “He felt thatmany of these songwriters in Nashville have the talent to be greatscreenwriters and they don't even know it.”
Bohem, who once played bass in the band Sparks, feels that Nashvilleis ripe with talent for film. “I think people in Nashville forgethow good everything is there. There are so many great songwriters andmusicians, and people get immune to it because you see it all of thetime,” says Bohem, who started the conference five years ago withbusiness manager Gary Haber and film producer Karen Murphy (whosecredits include This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best InShow and A Mighty Wind).
One of the points that emerged in the conversations concerned theamount of film-related work already happening in town, likeCharlie's War, which is directed by David Abbott for TenaissanceProductions Inc. and stars Olympia Dukakis, Lynn Redgrave, IsabellaSteele, and Nashville native Vernon Winfrey, father of Oprah Winfreyand a local barbershop owner. Another film where the music was createdand produced in Nashville is The Dance, a documentary aboutLouisiana boxer Billy Roth and his years as a volunteer boxing coach,referee and mentor in the infamous state penitentiary at Angola, La.The film was produced by Eric A. Geadelmann of Haynes/GeadelmannPictures with producer/director John Darling Haynes. Award-winninglocal composer/arranger/producer and musician Scott Brasher handled themusic supervision. The music in The Dance ranges from raw,acoustic, Delta-style blues and black gospel to that of local hip hopartist Baby Low Ki. Country singer Trace Adkins narrated TheDance and his track was cut at Paragon Recording, located south ofNashville. The bulk of the music tracking was done at IV Music, withDan Rudin engineering and additional engineering handled by DanielNoga.
The IV sessions were done through Digidesign Pro Control and ProTools 5.2 MIXPlus/24-bit Apogee converters. Rudin monitored through hisBlue Sky System One 2.1 system. “I used KEF C55s for 15 years,which I love, but I was wanting to have a little more accuracy down lowand in the very top stuff. I didn't want anything harsh,” saysRudin. “I could never find a modern loudspeaker that was anythinglike that, until I found the Blue Skies.
“We wanted everything to be real roots-y, acoustic, frontporch-y-sounding,” Rudin continues. “We miked everythingreal loose and let them play it all live. Even the background vocalistssang live. We did choir stuff there and some foot stomping andharmonica things just to kind of create the mood of a real southernLouisiana thing. Scott [Brasher] came in with the cues mapped out andwe recorded them. Some of it was improv. It was actually a very goodcreative process for the music. Scott took a lot of this back to hishome studio and did some music editing there.”
Brasher edited on Logic. “I did a chain-gang version of thatold song ‘John Henry’ and recorded that at home, prettymuch just recording myself yelling into a microphone about 10times,” Brasher says with a laugh. “I added a bunch ofnoise in the background, pulling up samples that sounded like hammershitting spikes. Phil Keaggy did a lot of stuff for me, and then therest of it was all done at IV.”
IV owner Chris Parker looks forward to more film-oriented projects,particularly with Haynes/Geadelmann. “It was a really neatsituation, being introduced to Eric [Geadelmann] and being involved inthe project, because The Dance is a very inspiring film. It's agreat story. We're beginning to get involved more and more in the filmcommunity locally, and that is something I am very committed to. We hadan L.A. presence for a few years and it was difficult. But for TheDance, all of the music and the audio were done in Nashville. Thereare not a whole lot of films out there floating around that you can saythat for. I know that Eric is committed to staying here in Nashvilleand making it work, and we're excited to be a part of that down theroad with him and see where it leads to.”
Brown is equally excited about the emergence of Haynes/GeadelmannPictures as a serious film industry player to stimulate the localcommunity. “Eric is setting up a really amazing entertainmentcompany,” she says. “It is good for our city that he ishere. Eric has optioned some amazing properties to do feature films;people like Ron Meyer are knocking on his door.”Haynes/Geadelmann Pictures is currently working on another documentarycalled Kiss the Soldiers: The Mauthausen Liberation. Brasher hasbegun creating the music for this project.
Finally, when I asked Abbott, the director/producer for Charlie'sWar, about his sense of Nashville as a place to do music for film,he says, “There are quite a few composers that have greatcredentials who reside in Nashville. Most of the record labels andpublishers here are great to work with, and you can imagine, with allof the studios and world-class music producers and musicians that livehere, there is no reason why filmmakers can't benefit from all of theresources here.”
Send your Nashville news toMrBlurge@mac.com.