Hello everyone. I want to share a very recent experience (sorry for the length). I recently wrote a score for a short film--about 14 mins--for a first-time director. It was a freebie. I didn't have the film very long, probably only a couple of weeks (I have a day-job, so my composing hours are limited), when it was suddenly decided that the final mix had to be in a week. This put me into a terrible time crunch and I lost a lot of sleep, had to take time off work, and truly worked my darnedest to meet the deadline.
Well, I made it by 8AM and handed the stems to the music editor at 8:30 who was due on the stage by 9:00. I had no idea how anyone reacted to the score. I was so exhausted, having only ten hours of sleep in a four-day period, that I wasn't able to attend the first day of the mix. So I went on the second day, during notes and fixes.
As I sat there on the mix stage, I began to notice that some of the cues were faded out, ended early. Another one faded in later and also ended early. The final big cue, which had taken me the most time to write and program to get just right (and was clearly the most impressive--it was the finale, after all!) was not even in the film.
Um... yeah, there appears to be a drop-out in the music... that lasts for the entire duration of the cue!!!
I was very upset at having the cue thrown out. After all that work, and for free! The nerve! I sat there in silence, fuming about it. Such a slap in the face! Such an unprofessional, typical, first-time-director thing to do! With no apology or anything. This was the finale, for gods sake! I announced that I had to leave, made some lame excuse about dinner plans, and exited quite abruptly. At least I kept my head and was careful not to do or say anything I would later regret. It was very difficult to show restraint.
I went home and drank a large martini. I spent a lot of time composing a large email to the director explaining my point of view, how he should have called me to discuss removing the cue from the film. I mean, as a composer, I have a tendency to overdo it from time to time, meaning I love to write music, and sometimes, I honestly over-cue. But this was perfect for the scene! It fit the mood exactly! He was completely off base!
I tried to word my email in such a way as to let him know that I was upset, but also was sincere in my desire to explain the proper protocol in dealing with this sort of situation. After I thought about it a lot, and after the fiftieth revision to my novel, I placed a call to the mixer (who had recommended me for the job).
The mixer, wise in his young years, offered much insight. First of all, he told me the director LOVED the score. He wanted to use it all, but for that last cue, he just couldn't make it all work with the FX he wanted for the scene and the overall tone he was after. Further, he told me the director just raved about me and already talked about using me for his next project. The mixer also understood my situation, having poured his heart into sound design for an earlier project only to have that director say, "No I want to hear only the score here." He finished our talk by mentioning that the low/no-budget projects are rarely about credit and a copy, or even the minimal payment you get, but the true reward is the relationship. The truly talented ones are going to make features soon, with real money, and when they do, if we play our cards right, they will call us.
After I thought about it, I ultimately came to realize: this is the director's film. Just because I'm an artist, doesn't mean it's all about me. I had done my part to give him everything he wanted and more. I actually received a call from him earlier in the evening, thanking me for my hard work and reprising his desire to work with me again. I told him, that what was most important to me was that he was able to get the final product that he wanted. And as I think about it, it's not just lip-service. It's the truth.
I don't have the music from the film posted for your listening pleasure yet, but when I do, I will edit this post.
Do any of you have war stories about rejection? Do any of you have tips for dealing with it? I can't say that I am new to film scoring, but having only worked on short films with little or no budget probably keeps me in the amateur category. Anyway, it took me a full two days of thinking, a lot of gin, and running on the treadmill (though not at the same time) to get over the anger and hurt. It was truly at the 11th hour that I felt enlightenment, and was able to reconcile the situation. I'd love to hear about your own experiences.