When it comes to my Colorado adventure films, one of the many questions I get asked is “how do you choose the music?” This is something I really wanted to touch on and share my heart with you. It is a very involved piece of the production process, and it is something I take great care in selecting.
This does require a little storytelling, so grab a small bag of popcorn, and welcome to the history of me!
I started playing piano when I was three-years-old. I was in Children’s Music Academy which was essentially 15-20 kids under the age of 5 all trying to play the same song in coordination with one another. As you could imagine, our poor parents were probably sitting there cringing as Sarah’s little boy started throwing his fists at the bass keys and Kelly’s daughter decided it was high time for a solo.
I don’t remember much, but I do remember my teacher, Ms. Candy and my friend Elise. and the musical games that we played to disguise the fact that we were indeed learning. We played the piano, percussion, guitar, recorder, and the odds and ends of percussion. I vaguely remember the recitals, but I remember the little trophy that I received after graduating the class.
I loved it, and I remember latching onto the piano from an early age.
Enter – Lord of the Rings. For some reason, my parents thought that an 8-year-old should watch the mighty trilogy. I was hooked immediately. During the Two Towers, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn rode up to the Golden Hall. That song moved me. I stopped – wide eyed, and asked my dad what instrument was playing that melody. He told me it was the violin, and I asked if I could learn to play it so I could learn that song. Surprisingly, my parents said yes, and a few weeks later, I began lessons
I picked it up fairly quickly, and I also started playing piano again during this time.
Middle school, for me, and many others, is when you really first start to compare yourself and self esteem goes out the window. Approval and acceptance is everything, and when you don’t get that, you’re lost.
My songwriting didn’t come from a deep understanding of theory and how different cadences work together. It manifested from lunches spent alone in the piano room trying to hold back tears. It came from trying to find someway to scream without letting everything fall apart.
Every note in every song I wrote was felt deeply in my soul, from my head, to my fingertips, to my toes on the piano pedals. I have cried, I have laughed, and I have gnashed my teeth while I played and threw every inch of myself into the songs I wrote.
I wrote music all through my high school years.
Songwriting, the discovery of photography, and my faith, is what pulled me through. I still spent most of my lunches alone in the piano room or on the stage lit only by the workshop lights. I also listened to a lot of music, everything from Metal to Classical. By this point, music was everything. Music defined me.
Music has and always will be more than just background noise. It’s a driving factor. It moves you. It is a part of your being.
Music is powerful, and it’s universal language.
When I started making my first films in Colorado, I had to search for copyright-free songs. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I couldn’t justify spending that much on the songs I wanted. I became extremely frustrated with the lack of care put into the songs I found. It sounded like the composer slapped it together because they could. It is passable. It’s ok. But just OK, is not good enough for me. The last couple years I’ve spent more time to find the best music sources so that I can give my clients what they deserve.
When I dive into a project, the very first thing I do is look for the right song. This process can take anywhere from 1-3 hours as I sift through hundreds of tracks. I look at the footage from the session, play your vows, and remember how the day felt. What vibes did I get from the day? Was it deeply emotional, or nothing but giddy laughter? Are you serious, intimate, and expressive people, or are you more lighthearted?
I do not settle on a song until I find a song that moves me.
My adventure films are about the connection between people. My goal s to have a unique connection beforehand so that on the day of, I’m not sure a bystander with a fancy rig. Instead… I cry with you, laugh with you, and enjoy the day as a new and unexpected friend. My passion for song selection comes directly from my desire to connect – to the music, and to my clients.
Scroll back with a little nostalgia as we look at my bad, blonde, hair dye, and I realize how much time I spent playing the violin.
Frequently Asked Questions about Music
Q – Can we pick the song?
A – Yes, and no. I want you to have a say in the type of music I choose. If you don’t like atmospheric cinematic scores, let me know! If you can’t stand acoustic guitar, let me know! The biggest problem I come across with the song that you might want for your film is licensing. If it’s on the top 40 lists, it will almost always be a no on licensing. Song licensing is expensive. The top 40 hits usually end up with me not even getting a response from the labels, or the license is anywhere from $200-$500 or more for a one time use.
Q – How long does it take you to find a song?
A – Generally 1-3 hours total. Sometimes I have to step away for a couple days because there is a lot of music, and not all of it is great. Things start to sound similar, I can’t remember if I’ve heard that song before or not, and then I’ll find a great song only to find out that I’ve already used it…
Q – Do you use songs multiple times?
A – No. I will never use your adventure film song for anybody else’s film. As far as I’m concerned, that song is yours as soon as I license it for your adventure film.