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    Hollywood Composer seeking new Directors. Update w/Pictures from Malcolm Mcdowell sc
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    Hello Everyone!

    My name is Jonathan Hartman and I am a film composer here in Los Angeles. I am a graduate of the New York University masters program in film scoring, where I studied music editing with Tim Starnes (Lord of the Rings) and music composition with Ira Newborn (Naked Gun, John Hughes pics, etc).

    After graduating in '08, I came up with musical arrangement concepts, orchestration and music mockups for Oliver Stone's "W". I moved to Los Angeles in August of '09 worked extensively with composer John Ottman (Superman Returns, Valkyrie). I also began a fair amount of freelance commercial ad work, before breaking into feature films.

    At the end of 2011, I completed scoring the feature film "The Employer" starring Malcolm McDowell, Paige Howard, and Billy Zane. We're mixing in January 2012 for a release later this year. We just had a Red Carpet Screening in Hollywood, with the full cast, crew and 800 people. Wonderful night, and a great response to the film.

    In 2011 I also scored the short film "Oysters Rockefeller" starring Hale Appleman and written/directed by Charles Rogers from NYU. I'm going to score his short "Autumn Whispers" in early 2012. Next big project coming up are two films I am negotiations/attached to, a large comedy and a sci fi film.

    I'm always interested in building great working relationships with up and coming professional directors. If you have any interest in original music for your project, please feel free to email or call me to discuss it.

    My website has a large number of samples of my work. Looking forward to working with all of you- all the best,

    Jonathan Hartman
    Composer

    general emails: FilmScore@JonathanHartman.net
    website: http://jonathanhartman.net/
    Last edited by JonathanHartman; 04-08-2012 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Updated Management Team and Film Release Info


     

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    One more thing- We all tend to know our areas of expertise the best. And filmmakers, by and large, know film, cameras, lighting, editing backwards and forwards!

    i know that there are a LOT of beginning filmmakers who haven't had as much experience with music on the post-production side.

    So, if anyone ever has any questions, on formats, sync, technical issues, etc. Please ask.

    I'm more than willing to share information and tips.
    Last edited by JonathanHartman; 04-01-2010 at 12:03 PM.


     

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    Hi Jonathan

    Had a listen at your site - I really liked some of your work, particularly Recruit. I have some questions about what the workflow is like with a composer in film.

    In an ideal world, how soon would you like to be involved in a project? Do you like to get involved at the pre-production level working from scripts/storyboards to work on concepts, or do you just wait for footage?

    Once there is footage, when do you start actively writing the music - do you wait for picture lock? I could see a lot of timing issues arising if not.

    What are some of the funny/odd/scary things that can happen as a composer working on a film?

    Thanks for chiming in here, I look forward to hearing more of your work.


     

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    Thanks for the kind comments re: my site. As for the questions, like all things, it varies!

    I think most composers would like to be locked into a film early on- it's good to know it's a go, less stressful. I know some people really like early work. i like getting scripts and reading up. I work a lot with John Ottman (superman returns, valkyrie) and I know he reads scripts all the time.

    Realistically, though, if you get involved early, it's more to get a sense of what the picture is really about. emotionally, story-wise, character development, etc. it's trying to establish tone. Also, in cases where you work with a director and producer for the 1st time, it's great to build trust and repport, to get a sense of how they really like to work.

    Unfortunately, with production and post schedules the way they are these days, as composers we are usually coming in later and later.

    As far as the writing process goes- we start writing when we have footage. sometimes beforehand (with main themes, etc). There's no wait for lock. A lot of contracts say, start upon delivery of locked picture, but that just doesn't really happen.

    There's a lot of re-writing. There's a lot of conforming the music to picture edits. Sometimes it occurs in the MIDI stage, sometimes through audio editing if the music has even been recorded in the studio already. Most of that tends to be done by capable music editors. On lower budgets, by composer assistants. Major re-writes are done by the composer, obviously.

    I find it a lot easier to write to picture, even if it will change a bit. You get a better sense of tone, of the speed of the scenes, where the dramatic beats lay. That doesn't happen in a script the same way- things change for better (sometimes worse! ) when they get filmed. I'd rather approach the actual thing, rather than the concept of the thing before it has been shot.

    As for funny/scary/odd things. Hmmmm I could say a lot, but I don't want to incriminate myself or others on stories I have seen/heard/experienced. Yikes!

    As a general rule, I would have to say that it can be scary when no one is sure of basic technical specs. How the thing is getting delivered. I get this ALL of the time in advertising. I am often handed material to score that has no timecode on it. And the person isn't sure what the frame rate is. Or the frame rate they give me is wrong. Or it's right, but there's no way that the film is going to be shown in that frame rate!

    That's particularly true with television ads, because the final broadcast rate is often different than the way it was shot. Which is totally cool. For example, I see lots of 23.98 these days- I think because of all the HD cameras out there. but TV isn't broadcast at 23.98.

    not a big deal, but I have to set up my sessions to sync with the picture. And if you change the rate later....the sync changes also!

    As for scary things- a lot of confusion arises when people don't have the important basic conversations first. being clear about delivery specs. how to label things. etc

    It sounds so pedantic, but organization is such a key element to making an original score work, especially if you are going to record with live players in the end. When you have all of those things in place, you can focus on writing great music that complements the film, instead of putting out fires. I've seen very scary moments on recording stages when a picture comes up, the orchestra records, then the producer/director in the booth realizes that the picture version is not the same. Very scary. Especially if studio people are there and every minute costs a lot.
    Last edited by JonathanHartman; 04-01-2010 at 07:19 PM.


     

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    Senior Member refocusedmedia's Avatar
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    This may be a dumb question, but is the director "allowed" to direct the composer? Can he say things like I really want the music to swell here, or I really want pounding, driving drums there, or please for the love of God take that flute out! (Hopefully you get the idea). Is this common or is it basically that youre presented with footage, write your score, and then the editing adjusts to any director demands? Or a happy (ideally) medium?

    Also, I'm curious how one goes about finding local composers.

    Thanks for you time and insight


     

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    This tends to be an area that is challenging newer directors, because music is the one area where they generally aren't as comfortable. Everybody thinks they understand and know music, and has an opinion on it, so it can be hard to extend the trust to the composer to do what he/she does best, what they know better than anyone else in the room. It can be hard to hand over some control to another person, but it's really important to remember that the composer does have your best interests in mind!

    Most of these discussions happen during a spotting session, usually the director, composer, music editor (sometimes also film editor or producers) sit down and watch the film a few times. they talk about it, where the music should start/stop, the tone of it.

    Music editors (sometimes film editors) will also often put a temp track to the rough cut. That often informs the overall music direction for the picture.

    Obviously, composers will change things, as needed, based on director's requests, especially if there are major issues. But the whole "directing" music in extreme detail doesn't happen that much. Sometimes, but it's not common. Or better put, its only common when a picture has problems and producers /studios think that the music can fix them.

    It's mainly because it's a slower process- you can direct a scene and shoot it, re shoot it several times. As a director, your revisions can be done really, really fast.

    But music works in such a different way. Average work-flow, most composers can be expected to write up to 2 minutes of music per day. So your 60 minutes of score can reasonably take 30 days of work, give or take. When you consider that, you can see how drastic changes are avoided at all costs when the post schedule is small- or shrinking- or non-existant. it takes awhile to make major changes-

    That's why the early conversations are SO important- you avoid expensive time consuming fixes later if everyone is clear from the beginning. Composers don't write in a vacuum- this is a very collaborative process.


    As for finding local composers, it's funny, because so many composers are trying to actively meet filmmakers! In Los Angeles and New York it's easier. Outside, can be harder. Look at groups like the Society of Composers and Lyricists. The SCL hosts events in Ny and LA all the time, which are great places to meet musically minded folks. Also call universities- New York University and USC boast AMAZING filmscoring programs. There are always the next major talent working their way into the business, and they often attend these prestigious programs. Same goes for Berklee school of music in Boston and UCLA.

    Or you could always hire me.
    Last edited by JonathanHartman; 04-03-2010 at 10:07 AM.


     

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    Senior Member Matt Sconce's Avatar
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    Great to see you on the boards. Thank you for your helpful comments! -Matt Sconce


     

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    Senior Member randin's Avatar
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    Hey Jonathan, stop telling these guys how things work in the real world. ;-) We have the chance here to tell indies how to do it better than the studios do. Here's what you say...

    Filmmakers, you hire the composer during pre-production. You deliver a final, locked cut to the composer, and you don't touch the edit at all after that. You have a spotting session where you make choices with the composer and music editor to make decisions about the music. You give the composer feedback along the way, but don't micromanage. Trust him/her, be open to ideas you didn't consider, but make sure the composer's serving your vision.

    Most of the rush issues Jonathan talks about are more on bigger studio projects. For most low budget indies like people on this forum would be doing, you don't have anybody breathing down your neck with tight deadlines or nitpicks, so you can take your time to get things right.
    Randin Graves
    film composer & didjeriduist for all occasions!
    http://www.randingraves.com
    http://www.facebook.com/randinmusic
    http://www.imdb.me/randingraves


     

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    That's good advice Randin. You are correct; my perspective is definately one that has been influenced by bigger studio projects. Everyone I have studied with or worked with has been doing large mainstream commercially released films.

    I agree with most of your summation/advice. As for the "don't touch the edit" advice, I don't feel as strongly about that one. It's the filmmaker's project; I am there to serve that project. If they feel compelled to change the picture and tighten up edits after music has started, that's really their choice and decision.

    Granted.... I'd love it if things stayed the same and nothing changed. It certainly makes our job easier. But, in this era of digital editing, it's become a fact of life that things are going to change mid-stream. I'm ok with that.

    I still think it's a good idea to have everything clear, even without a studio deadline on you. Truth is, as much as I want to write for your shorts (and I really DO), I have my own work schedules and deadlines, as well. In my case, I'm not only scoring your short, but juggling commercial advertising, working with a major A-list composer, tv pilots, etc.

    I feel that it shows a lot of respect to your composer when you go through the trouble of trying to keep a decent post schedule- it shows them that you recognize that they have to keep working, as well.

    I have to schedule out a job, how long it goes for, and how much it will pay over that time. So even in the indie/short world, time is an issue. We all have to work, support ourselves and families.

    So deadlines are not really a bad thing. Frankly, it's good to sometimes put a deadline on your own work, as it gives you incentive to finish the thing! Too often I have met student filmmakers (back when I was at NYU) that almost obsessively overworked a project. I think it's GREAT training to create under an established timetable.


     

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    Senior Member randin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanHartman View Post
    As for the "don't touch the edit" advice, I don't feel as strongly about that one.
    Yeah. I started writing that post tongue-in-cheek, then realized - hey, there's no reason this can't be serious advice! So there's probably a little bit of both tones left in my message. It's true that if a happy composer were the first priority for a filmmaker, then they shouldn't touch the edit. But I have a feeling the first priority is going to be the best possible film instead! And we're all professionals working together for the best result - even if the composer does curse the director under his breath for a new edit once in a while after he's spent many hours getting the music to fit just right with several hit points in the film. Comes with the territory.

    [QUOTE}So deadlines are not really a bad thing. Frankly, it's good to sometimes put a deadline on your own work, as it gives you incentive to finish the thing! Too often I have met student filmmakers (back when I was at NYU) that almost obsessively overworked a project. I think it's GREAT training to create under an established timetable.[/QUOTE]
    Ha... that's true, too. I was just on a low budget 6-minute film for about 8 months after being given a nearly finished cut. What a nightmare!
    Randin Graves
    film composer & didjeriduist for all occasions!
    http://www.randingraves.com
    http://www.facebook.com/randinmusic
    http://www.imdb.me/randingraves


     

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