Happy Holidays to all. Spread out more this year than often, with Hannukah seeming early and with lunar new year still off in the future.
Visual arts have always been a personal interest, and even as a musician I have always associated images with music. When Lennie Moore brought to his SFCM class a member of the Scary Cow film collaborative in 2016, it gave me an opportunity to connect my musical composition skills to filmmakers. This resulted in my developing opportunities to score and record music for a half dozen films. (Some are viewable online.)
In 2022 I began filming my own story — what I call “Coming Home to Music” — after 50 years in Computer Science. As a teen, I was a pretty good pianist, and when I went to college I had made a choice between studying engineering (and then computer science) or enrolling in the American Conservatory of Music to study piano performance. I chose computers. Then in 2015 I came back to music full time at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2022 I decided to commit this story to film, and as luck would have it, found three other SFCM alumni who had stories of a similar trajectory — and were really perceptive and willing to tell their stories. The four stories are now woven into one single feature film Play It Again — Coming Home to Music and How It Changed My Life. (online) It’s great how the stories dovetail and how each of my co-stars is able to tell their story in ways that are clear and deeply insightful.
Both film and music businesses are so completely disrupted that it’s a constantly changing landscape. Streamed music pays almost nothing at all (roughly a sixth of a cent per play) and only the megastars make an income on streaming. And mostly the money is in performance, not recording. In film, blockbusters are the big news and tiny independent films pretty much never get seen. So the trick here is to break the mold and find other ways of paying for a film, not just ticket sales. Workin’ on that.
If you’d like a peek behind the scenes at a music recording session, take a look at this 2023 short I produced. Making the Music of Happy Goat (online). We filmed this in 2022 and much of it is included in Play It Again.
Now for a preview of 2024, we will be spending much of our time at Ensō Village in Healdsburg, where a community based on Zen and Quaker values is being formed. Over 200 living units and many interesting people with fascinating stories. Next year’s report will certainly cover a lot of that ground. (Current online sources of information are limited, and I recommend you wait for my future report.) The people are the attraction.