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There is a very distinct “X” factor that distinguishes an ordinary composer from a great composer. We are downright positive that Ryan Taubert has cracked the intangible code. Ryan was drawn in to making music initially through visuals. After teaching himself to compose by reproducing scores from movies as a kid, he is now a highly sought after Composer making some of the most captivating pieces of music for film…ever, we’d say.

It takes a lot of people to make a film, but only a handful of them get much credit. Director. Cinematographer. Editor, if he’s lucky. The end credits go on and on, but few people understand what all of these people even do. For example: the producer. It’s a nebulous, seemingly catchall term for someone who does the nitty-gritty work of putting a production together. But while the title might be ambiguous, it requires a very specific type of person. A mix of optimist and realist. A relentless self-starter. A serial entrepreneur. A person like Jens Jacob.

e week after graduating from high school, Cale Glendening drove his mom’s car 1,465 miles from Oklahoma to Los Angeles to begin his career as a filmmaker. He didn’t have a plan, a job, or even a place to stay. He’d taken one video production class (and got a C in it), and he would soon be rejected by USC’s film school. But as you’ll see from our conversation below, discouragement has a sort of reverse effect on Cale. It makes him work harder.

T. S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” It’s as true in life as it is in creativity. Like in any great story, we only find out who we really are when we’re put to the test. The catch is, as filmmakers we often have to put ourselves to the test. Nobody else is going to do it for us.

Learning a craft is never easy, and there aren’t any shortcuts. As we’ve talked with filmmakers over the past few months, one question we always ask is “How did you learn how to do what you do?” Sometimes it feels like that’s the only question that really matters, and yet it’s usually the most difficult one to answer. While only some of the people we interviewed attended film school (and even fewer finished), all of these filmmakers are self-taught in their own way. Meaning, filmmaking is something they internalize—they’re constantly learning, discovering, and working it out for themselves. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve compiled a smorgasbord of insights into the benefits of a formal versus a not-so-formal film education. Salud!

Since launching the Musicbed Community, we have interviewed dozens and dozens of filmmakers and artists from all around the world. We’ve flown to Paris. We’ve Skyped to South Africa. We’ve G-Chatted to Spain. And during all that time, we’d like to think we’ve not only gotten better at interviewing people, but that we’ve learned a few practical lessons along the way. We’ve written them down here.

Failure is always fine in retrospect. It’s when you’re in the middle of it that things can get dark. You wonder if you’ll ever make anything good ever again. It’s a common fear of creative people: We’re worried we’ll wake up one day and all our creativity will be gone. And yet, there’s not a single creative person out there who hasn’t failed miserably at some point. It’s going to happen, and then it’s going to happen again. What makes someone a pro is how they deal with it — how they move on.

You realize pretty quickly in life that you are working with limited resources. Limited time. Limited money. Limited talent. One way or another, we are all forced to make the most of what we’re given. We invest what we have and hope something pays off — and every once in a while, something does.

You can always tell when someone makes something simply for the love of it. It has this quality that can’t be manufactured. That’s been our driving idea since the beginning of Musicbed: Let musicians make music they love, and filmmakers will want to license it. And also since the beginning of Musicbed, we’ve wondered how we could do the same thing for filmmakers.