A Networking Event for Visual Media, Music & Sound Artists.
Building on our inclusion of game and other visual media industries from last year, this year’s Connecting Sound & Picture Networking Event spanned three days and two campuses. The opening on Thursday, November 1st saw a film screening at the Bright Family Screening Room at Emerson College. The screening featured collaborations from past year's events Impressing the Critic, Heartbeats and Christmas Trees, and Measuring Matthew. The event continued on Friday and Saturday at Berklee College of Music featuring presentations by industry professionals including Matthew Weise (Narrative Designer, Harmonix Music Systems) via Skype, director Yves Simoneau (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, V) via Skype, film composer George S. Clinton (Austin Powers, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), Matt Birch (president of the Montana Artists Agency), the Scoring & Sound Design Contest Showcase & Awards Ceremony, and the Connecting Sound & Picture Expo.
The new Chair of Film Scoring at Berklee, George S. Clinton, delivered the keynote presentation for the Connecting Sound & Picture Networking Event, in collaboration with director Yves Simoneau. Joining the event via Skype, Simoneau discussed with Clinton the many collaborations they have worked on, focusing on the multiple emmy-award winning film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Relating stories on incorporating Native American flute player John Two Hawks into the score, Clinton and Simoneau discussed the importance of creating music that helps tell the story in a way that it is essentially another character in the film. Clinton also stressed the importance of trying new things as a composer. "My best inspiration comes from the periphery", he recounts, urging Berklee composers to "think sideways", and explore new types of music and different cultures. Clinton relates a funny story while working on Austin Powers, where Mike Myers couldn't decide whether to use the composer's original cue, or use the temp music for one particular scene. Myers put it to a vote, including everyone in the room from the engineer to his driver. Clinton says it went his way by just two votes.
Game Development, Narrative, &
Interviewed by Berklee Film Scoring Associate Professor Michael Sweet, Narrative Designer at Harmonix, Matthew Weise urged Berklee students, and aspiring sound designers and composers to focus on completion. He stressed the importance of having finished portfolio pieces, warning of the fine line between obsessing over perfection and bringing a project to a close, even if imperfect, advising that game studios want to hire people that are able to complete projects. Touching on what makes for good narrative design, he brought up one of his favorite games, Demon Souls, discussing aspects of the game where the player is rewarded for making humane choices. Weise likes the recent shift in games back to being difficult and challenging, rather than instantly gratifying, likening it to real life, and the satisfaction of working through a frustrating dilemma. When asked if it is important to be able to write code in order to work in the game industry, he says that not being able to code forced him to learn to communicate to other people, and that communication is one of the most important things about working in the game industry. Advising to be confident when creating any kind of art, Weise reminded that it is much easier to negatively analyze someone else's work, than to create something yourself, saying "Creativity is not analysis in reverse".
Hollywood Networking, Agents,
& the Film Industry
Urging students to take a few tools from every job they have, as each is a paid education, Matt Birch, President of Montana Artists Agency Skyped in for an interview by Berklee's Michael Sweet during the Connecting Sound & Picture Networking Event. Discussing the universal lack of a clear path into the industry, Birch never planned to become an agent. A Boston University alumnus ('91), Birch wore many different hats in the film industry before becoming the president of Montana Artist Agency. He advised treating everyone you run into with respect, saying that the old adage in Hollywood is "The intern or production assistant you hire will be hiring you in five years." On the financial model of a film production, Birch said that roughly 10% to 15% of films now are based on a post-release shared profit system. In this model, each member in the film production shares the risks but also the rewards, and notably Jason Bloom of Bloom House works this way. Birch's day-to-day involves a great deal of phone calls, face-to-face meetings, lunch and dinner meetings, and screenings, and he notes that it is an incredibly relationship-driven industry. On the issue of receiving rejections, Birch's advice is to grow thick skin, as rejection is the least of your concerns if you want to succeed in the industry, citing that the politics involved in LA are enormous. He also advised not to worry too much about rejection, recalling that his mother, a printmaker, used to pin up all of her rejection letters as a reminder to be humble, and to remember that "you are not everyone's taste". When networking, being genuine is key, and never pretend you know something that you don't. Birch urged students that being the person who says "I don't understand that, explain that to me" will resonate as everyone likes giving advice.
Scoring & Sound Design
Part of the Connecting Sound & Picture Networking Event was the first ever Scoring and Sound Design Showcase and Awards Ceremony. Each of the finalists (or pair of finalists), whose scores and sound designs were premiered, shared with the audience their interpretation of the game clip from God of War and creative process when composing their scores and sound designs. The winners were chosen by our judging panel, which included: game and film composer Lucas Vidal, Berklee professor Eric Reasoner, Senior Music Manager at Sony Computer Entertainment America Clint Bajakian, and Berlkee alumnus & Sound Designer Matteo Stronati. See full details on the Scoring and Sound Design Contest page.