I recently had the pleasure of writing / scoring the music for a film that was being done to promote the new Nikon D810 camera - Every Moment Counts. The film was shot buy a good friend Preston Kanak with whom I have worked with before on 2 previous music videos ( 101 & Coast Rain ).
I was very fortunate to get creative freedom on the project. The creative process I followed on this project was unique and resulted in something that I am very proud of.
From the start, I knew a few details about the project based on what was outlined in the proposal and from talking to Preston about his goals for the project. I knew that the film was based around a fisherman from the east coast and I also had an idea of the overall of the tone that Preston was going for with the film.
After several conversations, the process that we had decided to follow for creating the music for this film was centered on the idea to fly me to Nova Scotia while the team was on site finishing the project, and I would write the music while I was at the location of the film. Basically, I would arrive and then get a rough cut of the video and have 3-4 days to get the music completed.
In the conversations about the music and consequently musicians, Preston and I had talked in detail how strongly connected east coast music is tied to the culture, people and everyday life in Nova Scotia. So from those ideals along with my initial thoughts on the music, we decided that I would utilize my network of musicians from that area and find 2 musicians from Nova Scotia to be a part of the music for the film. Utilizing musicians that were from Nova Scotia – that play at the local square dances regularly, that live and breath that culture – was a decision that complimented the story of the film as I knew it at that point, and as a result I knew was the right decision.
I have been playing the fiddle for 28 years and over that time have traveled all across world playing music. Consequently, finding musicians that fit my preconceived mold for what I wanted on this project was not much harder than some phone calls, emails, and schedule coordination with friends I already had. Through that correspondence I was lucky enough to lock down two fantastic musicians and friends – Kimberley Fraser (piano) and Seph Peters (guitar). In correspondence with both Kimberley and Seph, I let them know about how the music was going to be completed and we went from there.
Fast-forward to me arriving in Nova Scotia and then getting a rough cut of the video. Before watching the rough cut, I knew that a piece of my music was used as the music in the rough cut of the film, so I understood that there would be a certain connection to that music with the film. This fact presented me with basically two options to start my creative process: either (A) try to create / re-create a piece of music that was similar to what was in the rough cut, or (B) let the video guide my creative decisions for the music and see what comes of it.
I was aware that choosing to let the video guide my creative decisions for the music was far more risky for me as a member of this creative project. Despite being given creative control on the music, I still needed to create music that the team was happy with and added to the project. And I knew that connection to the rough-cut music would be tough to remove. It would have been a lot easier to go with option A, however ultimately before watching the rough cut and in spite of the risks, I knew that I had to be true to my creative ideals and let the video guide my musical choices.
The things that stood out to me while watching the video for the first time (and all times moving forward) was obviously how strong of a character Manny was, how powerful his story was, how important family and friends were, and simply how beautiful the landscape his life story took place around. He is a fisherman bound to the land, sea and culture his whole life.
Ultimately I made the decision to have the music for the film be a soundtrack to his life, as I felt it watching the film the music should not be just be sounds that amplify the tone, mood or feeling of the video. It should have its own melody that builds just as Manny tells his story and his character grows. A unique and recognizable melody that is so much more than simply music set to match and amplify the moods and feelings of the film. I could have done that – but that is not what I felt was right with this film. I decided to take the risk and do things my way.
Like I had mentioned previously, music and specifically fiddle music is such an integral part of the culture in Nova Scotia, I felt that the music had to be a continuous melody in the background of his story.
Off the top of the film, the story of Manny has not begun and thus the piano off the top is a more ambient mood sound. When Manny starts to tell his story, the music itself starts off with the melody being played on the fiddle with piano backup. Moving thru the piece of music, it builds in instrumentation and arrangement, as we get deeper in Manny’s story. Ultimately, the key tone change of the film happens when Manny talks about death and there is a brief departure from the melody and the story. This is really a time when the story is not solely about Manny’s life. It is about the bigger picture of life and death and the music builds that tension of the unknown. Although it is a departure from the main melody, the music keeps going – just as his life just kept going through all of those hard times.
Manny then talks about family and continues his story until the line and title of this film “Every Moment Counts”. The music flows jointly back to the melody that has been built behind his story. It is his story and his melody. Unique, original, and identifiable. Simple and complex at the same time.
I really thought a lot about the title of this film – Every Moment Counts – and what that means in the context of the music I wanted to create for the film. The moments that we have in our life create our life story, our unique melody. Every moment of that melody is important because there is a definitive start and end to everyone’s story - everyone's melody. Those moments make the continuous melody of your life.
I hope you enjoy.