3 years ago I decided I was going to concentrate on composing music for film and I came to know about Stage 32 recently. I had been concentrating on classical pianists before that, trying to get my solo's performed by touring concert-oriented performers, and had some good luck in getting noticed by Henry Fogel, whom has been the President of both the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).
But his advice to me was simple. I was good....but for every possible commission in the classical business, there were at least 1,000 composers trying to get the commission. Still, I am a determined man, and simply moved my concentration to the love of mine, movies. My family, friends and acquaintances all thought I was crazy and gave little or no support for my endeavor.
Perhaps the glittering stories of “possible success” just seemed to far out of reach for any of them. But not to me. I only have one life on this earth, and a belief that what I do helps create peace and joy for people. 2 years into the 'move to film' I was still out of work living in a $500 a month ‘room’ on the North Side of Chicago near Wrigley Field.
Having left a fruitful career as a visual artist I thought I could make enough to get the equipment I needed for scoring films. I managed to put together an art exhibit and surprisingly all the works in my art fair exhibit sold, and with the proceeds I bought a MacBook with GarageBand, and a keyboard controller. I went into the woodshed and simply started conjuring scene ideas and scoring them musically. I let the family hear the pieces. They thought me daft and could not fathom what I was trying to accomplish.
One day, as I was on a bus going to the grocer, I passed a location shoot taking place at Ann Sathers on Broadway in Chicago. I hopped off the bus, as I always do when I see a film being made, and introduced myself to the crew. Before long, I was standing next to one of the producers and getting a little insight into the film and the production frames. Telling the producer I was once a Music Director in The Second City certainly helped. And it got me 2 minutes with the very busy Director and star of the indie film Landline, Matthew Aaron (starring Tom Arnold, James Dumont and Betsey Brandt from Breaking Bad, Tom O'Heir from Parks and Recreation).
He apparently liked what he heard, though I can't imagine him liking what he saw, I was in tattered koolots carrying my groceries, with two days growth on the face, and unkempt hair. But he gave me his email address and he sent me a script.
I began writing music and recording it with the mind set that I was already hired. I would send the director little 2 and 3 minute pieces of music, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. I did this everyday........for two weeks.......nervously wondering if I would get a call back. Finally, he did request I come to a location shoot, where Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) was in a conference room in a downtown Chicago hotel site. I sat around in the crew meeting room all day, hoping to get to pitch my music.
“Too busy today. Come back tomorrow.”
All the while, I heard whispers from the crew that I would never be hired to write the tunes for the movie. I came back the next day and just before lunch the PA gave me a word that the Director would like to see me. We shook hands and sat at a lunch table, and he began to talk about how he loved this movies' score or that movies’ score and told me about his vision for the film and what he wanted from me. I looked at him startled, but confident, and asked "does this mean I got the job?"
He said “yes!”
……and sent me quickly to the production lawyer to begin signing contracts and negotiating my price.
I am 57 years old now and my insides were that of a 25 year old jumping up and down for his favorite team having won the grand prize game. I had my first "big break" into the business of scoring films. It is now almost exactly one year later. The film did very well with it’s target audience.
I have come to know some folks on Stage 32 and with my film Landline in my arsenal, I have now been fortunate enough to be requested to score another film for a member here. This one is out of Brooklyn, NY and is a comedy drama 30 minute TV Pilot. I am totally thrilled to be able to give my all to this new project and am busy in my studio. Once I got paid the money for Landline I was able to move up in the world and have state of the art equipment. The new project is called "Pigs in a Bowl" and I am grateful and blessed to be doing this.
It would never have happened had Stage 32 not been there. There is no such thing as a 'small' project' in this business. Each film means a lot to the Creators, Directors, Cinematographers, Actors, and everyone, giving their all. They can make even the smallest film something memorable, substantial, and vernacular. It is not 'glitter' to me. It is a love for the craft, and a helpful environment for all those involved.
Thank you Stage 32 for helping keep my burgeoning career going.
See some of Wesley's scores from Landline on his profile here:
About Wesley Lawerence Curry II
Former Music Director in The Second City (Red Co, Chicago)
Live improvisational composing to improvised comedy sketches, worked with Neal Flynn (The Middle) Horatio Sanz (Saturday Night Live) Kevin Dorff (Writer: Conan O'Brian Show) Scott Adsit (30 Rock)
Composer (LANDLINE) Indie Comedy Feature Length Film : Betsy Brandt (Life in Pieces, Breaking Bad) Jim O'Heir (Jerry in Parks & Recreation) Tom Arnold (Comedian) Nick Searcy, Jim DuMont (Jurassic World, Trumbo)
Currently working on my own musical film and a commission for a concert orchestra for the Lunar Eclipse Festival in Central Illinois.
Love to travel, and meeting you face to face is important to me, even if it needs to be Skype.
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