I’ve already outlined a few technical thoughts on delivery and “finaling” (whatever that is) in my Weekend Provocations this month… and I’ll continue to do so in the weeks to come.
As I began to write today’s article, though, I realized that our April focus itself is built on some assumptions. Those assumptions, and their ramifications, after the jump.
First, we’re assuming you actually have a gig. In other words, you actually succeeded in convincing a filmmaker that you’re worthy to collaborate with them on their project. This seems to be the toughest step for a lot of people, and we devote a significant amount of time here on SCOREcast to helping you achieve this goal. This month, though, that’s a given.
Second assumption: You’ve successfully threaded your way through the various pitfalls that accompany a typical scoring assignment. Anyone who’s been around for any length of time will tell you that’s not the easiest thing. You’re to be congratulated. Seriously.
I’ve worked on a fair few projects that ended without any sort of closure—either the filmmakers decided they wanted to go in a different direction, or the show simply tanked. Either way, the process of “delivery and finaling” didn’t just grind to a halt—it ceased to exist altogether. And that’s something you should be prepared for, mentally and emotionally. This is a business, and no one in the executive ranks cares whether you achieve a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the workday.
Those are two big assumptions for us to make here at SCOREcast. And thanks for bearing with me through this tour of the obvious. Here’s the point—what can’t we assume?
The part we can’t assume is that what is being delivered—i.e., a musical cargo so precious, we’re spending an entire month just talking about how to deliver it safely, securely and properly organized!—is, in fact, worth anything. I mean, some of the procedures we’re outlining here are fairly involved and time-intensive… is your stuff really so good that it’s worth the time and hassle?
In order for you to consistently do a professional job of “putting the project to bed,” you have to believe, with passion and conviction, that the answer is yes. This phase of the game is no different than any other in that regard. If your score is “mailed in,” you might as well just… mail it in.
Just upload some mp3s to your iDisk. The guy cutting on the AVID (what’s his name again?) will figure out any formatting problems. 2-pop? No 2-pop? Who cares? They’ll probably move the cue around, or cut it up, or dump it, anyway.
I spend a lot of time and effort in my articles talking about our process, our mental and psychological state as composers. Getting your inner game in the right place to do the job in all its phases.
In the particular phase we’re focusing on now, I think you can see all that airy talk actually starting to become useful (!). If you’re not convinced of the worth of your product, you won’t take the fussy-but-critical steps necessary to see that that product reaches its destination intact and in perfect shape.
And the bigger the project, the fussier and more critical those steps become. And so the more you have to believe. It’s your energy and commitment that drives the project to completion. As vital as your music team is to the success of a project, it’s ultimately you who has to be the impetus. If you want to change the world, even in the sometimes small and indirect way that’s within our power as film composers, you have to assume that burden.
So… with all that in mind, here are some final thoughts:
1. You can start making a difference in the world any time you think you’re ready.
2. If you believe what I just wrote, and if you believe in yourself, it’s generally better to start taking risks too early than too late.
…the rest is details. Granted, there are a lot of details (!), and a big part of what we’re about as a community is amassing the collective wisdom in order to get through those details in a smart way… but the Big Picture (and, despite the nuts-and-bolts title of my monthly column, I am at heart a Big-Picture kind of guy) is that we’re all playing for stakes.
Most people’s jobs allow them, at best, the opportunity to affect only a few grains of sand on the beach that is humanity. Maybe they can change those few grains profoundly… I’m not denigrating the importance of anyone’s chosen field of endeavor. But as partners in the storytelling enterprise, I think it’s important for us to keep in mind that we’re playing for the entire beach.