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Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

sowingcirclegroupsmallA few weeks ago Jeff Seckendorf and I were interviewed at the Cinema Innovators Event by the PixelHead Network.  We talked about Unconventional Media and our commitment to New Media.  I also discussed the video streaming we’ve been doing at Unconventional South.  I can’t tell you how excited I am by our upcoming event  on Saturday February 28th at 8:30 PM,(Central Standard Time), 6:30 PM (PCT) presenting Billy Falcon and The Sowing Circle live on a national video stream.

There has been some great recent posting including Mashable.com and Dorkmuffin on the best outlets on the internet for new musical artists, definitely worth checking out.  However, neither mention live internet streaming, which gives the opportunity for anyone in the country, and sometimes the world, to be part of an audience seeing and hearing a performer live.  I enjoyed the last stream Unconventional South uploaded of Billy and the Sowing Circle so much, I was hung over the next morning.  That’s how real it felt, just like I was sitting at the Blue Bar in Nashville from my living room in LA.

This time things will be a little different, it’s an informal house party.  Since we are still experimenting, Michael Catalano of Unconventional South, will be flying solo with camera and sound.  It will be an intimate, uncut live performance.  If you read my post on “Stone Cold Sober in Music City” you know one of the things I love in James Szalapski’s film, “Heartworn Highways,” are the scenes of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and others sitting around the living room, playing music, drinking, smoking and espousing the importance of back-to-basics country.  I hope this video stream Saturday night will evoke that same feeling.

The “Sowing Circle” is a conceptual night of music Billy Falcon started two years ago.  Billy is a well established musician and songwriter, mostly known for writing over 12 songs for Bon Jovi, including most of the hits.  To Billy, the Sowing Circle is “at its worst a lot of fun, and at its best, it’s something tribal.  Unplanned and unrehearsed; it’s gifted singers, songwriters, violinists, guitar players, sax players, trumpet players, percussionists… coming together for the love of the music and nothing more.  Audiences are not merely spectators, they become part of the experience, with musicians sitting next to them and microphones set up for them to join in at will.”

Mix in some Dead, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Hank Williams and Phish and you only begin to understand the Sowing Circle.  Tune in for this is a rare opportunity to not only hear, but see some of today’s most prolific and talented songwriters and performers including Billy’s wonderfully talented and beautiful daughter, Rose Falcon, present their music in the most honest and direct way possible.  Join Billy, Rose and all their visiting guests this Saturday, February 28th, 9:30pm EST, 8:30pm CST, 6:30pm PCT by following this UStream link.

This weekend, on the West Coast, the fun doesn’t stop there.  On Sunday, March 1st at 2:30pm, the short film I produced “The Sacrifice” is playing at the Beverly Hills Shorts Film Festival.  Written and directed by Diane Namm, “The Sacrifice” recounts the gripping tale of 13-year-old Esmee Johnson on the day in which cult leader Rev. Dobbins comes to take her as his wife.

The Sacrifice” was shot on Super 16 film, the multi-talented cast includes: Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield, Friday Night Lights, X Files); Darby Stanchfield (Mad Men, Jericho); Jon Lindstrom (Must Love Dogs, Right on Track, and General Hospital); Richard Riehle (Office Space, Grounded for Life) and Molly Quinn (Castle, A Christmas Carol, directed by Robert Zemeckis) ).  Ivy Isenberg was the Casting Director.  I’m so glad to see the film continue to get festival play.  A great weekend ahead, indeed.

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rippedbannerThe music/reality television pilot “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” is picking up steam and it looks like we’re headed into production later this Spring.  I’m excited because this is a project I’ve really wanted see get off the ground ever since Michael Catalano introduced me to Brian Adams and Jared Blake over six months ago.  In fact, it was my trip to Nashville to meet these guys and the band, The Levees, last summer that I decided to open Unconventional South.  I’ve always loved the music energy of Nashville, ever since I was working there doing music videos with Think Pictures (Martin Kahan and Venetia Mayhew) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  I’m glad to be back.

Check out the Stone Cold Sober Music website and you’ll hear what an amazing roster of musicians creator Brian Adams has gathered for this series.  Anyone that has seen my film “Travelin’ Trains” knows my love of Americana roots music and with this show, we plan on delivering not only the music, but the stories of the struggles to get the music heard.  When talking about “Stone Cold,” I keep referring to documentarian James Szalapski’s late 70’s film, “Heartworn Highways,” which followed artists like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young and Steve Earle before any of these guys were household names.  They’re all so young, sitting around the living rooms and small studios, smoking cigarettes and drinking, playing music and espousing the importance of the back-to-basics movement  in Country.  This is intercut with performances by the Charlie Daniels Band and David Allan Coe in sparkly outfits.  I think of “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” as a retelling, but now it’s thirty years later.  The show will touch on all the dramatic aspects of a musician’s life— including the secrets, challenges, competitiveness, successes and failures.  The struggle to get your music heard has not changed, only the musicians.

Brian Adams has been the catalyst in keeping the momentum of this project moving forward.  Unlike so many good ideas that fall away without a champion, Brian has lead the charge and continues to ignite interest in the possibilities of the show.  Adams comes from a financial background and has always specialized in managing projects from the development stages, but I’ve worked with many that call themselves “producers” and I truly believe Brian has found his calling.

Brian recently brought on Jennifer Rachidi, Owner and Brand Developer for TRUST, to provide promotion and branding.  The plan now is to line up shows throughout the Southeastern United States for Spring 2009.  The reality tour series targets a wide range of venues, sponsors, and fans.  As Brian said in the Press Release, “I felt drawn to expose the public and fans to the secrets and developments of a singer/songwriter on their way to a star career. It’s the untold and unseen sides of a performer that will be exposed.”  Audiences will be able to watch clips and interviews via online streaming, adding comments and ideas, during this phase of the production.  Public involvement at this stage will be the key to the success of the completed show.  Check out the MySpace site to hear the music and become a Friend.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

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In a follow up to Monday’s Blog, seems the battle between the factions within SAG have dimmed the chances of a Strike.  Yeah!  According to Richard Verrier, writing for the Los Angeles Times Business section, Monday’s SAG board meeting to discuss the divisions over the Strike referendum became a “tug-of-war” over Doug Allen’s future with SAG.  Allen was hired by the union as chief negotiator for the new contract.  His role was to bring a new toughness to the negotiations, but it has only caused a growing rift between the membership.  After close to a 30-hour meeting on Monday into Tuesday, a majority of the board failed to oust Allen, but they did succeed in neutralizing him and his principal supporter, SAG President Alan Rosenberg.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, the meeting included allegations of voter fraud and an eight-hour debate on extending the meeting for three hours.  Yikes!  As I stated in my previous Blog, SAG must reconcile their own huge divisions before they authorize a strike.  That’s what they did at the WGA and that is why that Strike had the support, including SAG, of many of us in other positions in the film and television business.  As our concern grows with the deteriorating economic situation of the Country, it comes as a relief to know that there won’t be a work stoppage in our business as well.

On the other hand, in the same section of today’s LA Times, Verrier writes that feature film production in Los Angeles County is at its lowest level since tracking began in 1993.  Now part of the 2008 falloff was due to the Writer’s Strike and concern on the walkout by the actors, but with a 46% drop in the fourth quarter of 2008, we must begin questioning California’s competitiveness in the marketplace.   The film permit company, FilmLA President Paul Audley is quoted as stating, “we should stop talking about runaway production.  It’s ran-away production.”  We’re feeling the effect at Unconventional Media, with more production in prep in New Orleans and in Nashville, then here at the Los Angeles office.  We’ve got to figure a way to bring back the big dollar film productions and high end commercials that generate thousands of jobs and revenue instead of losing them to the incentives offered in Michigan, New York and Louisiana.  According to the article, only Reality TV, with an 8% increase has risen in Los Angeles production this last year.  That’s a bit of reality I’d rather not hear.

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A very nice interview with Michael Catalano of Unconventional South in the recent issue of Nashville Music Guide Magazine.

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Yesterday, I finally pulled myself away from “Need for Speed:Undercover” on the XBox.  I’m having a terrible time making it past the early levels so that I can see more of the live action footage that I produced for the game.  It’s not the game, it’s definitely the player.

I had been asked by the Coalition of Southern California Music Organizations (COSMO), Just Plain Folks (JPF) and the Los Angeles Women in Music (LAWIM) to serve on a couple of panels regarding music and film.  I begrudgingly put the game controls down and found it to be an interesting experience, with a couple of nice surprises.

I must admit I’m a bit of a snob with my work in Nashville and our company there, Unconventional South.  I always figured that was the only place to be if you’re a serious songwriter.  However, I met some very talented writers and musicians at the all day conference held at the Professional Musicians Union, Local 47 on Vine street in Hollywood.

Just like in Nashville, a lot of the musicians wanted to know how to get their music discovered, past the little access of radio.  You already know my opinion, the internet, not only websites like Pandora and OurStage, but the simple things like making sure your best stuff is up on a MySpace site, also have your own promotional website.  I’m now using my own MySpace site as a place holder so that I can quickly access musicians and songwriters that I like and may want to use for future projects.

On the panels, I talked about developing relationships with upcoming directors and producers.  I warned that you may have to do the first project cheap, but if you can develop a long term relationship, it’ll pay off in the end.  I also promoted the idea of webisodes and a music web series.  I was very impressed to meet Jannel Rap and hear the Country rock sound of her band, Clementine.  They’ve just returned from the Squeaky Wheel Tour with a mission to help find missing persons.  They have handouts and information to various hotlines and weblinks at each performance and at 411Gina.org.  They’ve found over 300 missing persons so far.  Jannel’s sister, Regina, went missing after her own concert in 2000.  Jannel hasn’t stopped looking.

What I really found impressive was they’ve been putting up episodes of “Finding Gina” on YouTube of the tour.  This has generated interest in the cause, the band and the music.  It has lead to radio airplay.  This is a worthy cause, but it wouldn’t sustain if they didn’t have the music to back it up.  Other songwriters and musicians can follow this formula, creating a web series that showcases their music, be it documentary, reality or experimental.  This is what Unconventional Media is all about, new ways to get the message and music out there.

Okay, back to the XBox.

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Michael Catalano and Eric Mofford greet guests at opening.

Michael Catalano and Eric Mofford greet guests at opening.

Last Tuesday, October 14th, Unconventional Media, in conjunction with PLA Media, officially opened the Southern office, Unconventional South.  Pam Lewis, a public relations and marketing guru with over twenty years experience, opened her doors at the PLA Media building on Music Row to welcome my partner Michael Catalano and I to the agents, music publishers, record executives and other dignitaries of Nashville, Tennessee.  Fun was had by all, or at least by me.  Pam served a home cooked meal and “Unconventional” Sangria.  Videos from UM’s most recent production “Need for Speed:Undercover” and the first film Michael and I worked together on, “Travelin’ Trains” played in the background accompanied by the music of jazz maestro, Denny Jiosa.  Unconventional South is a full service production company handling the small corporate job to the large New Media production.

Most of the talk at the opening was about discovering new ways to build audiences and sell music.  There is so little independent radio these days that artists and labels are finding it difficult to get any airplay.  I’m a firm believer that if you build an audience, they will buy the music, but how to build that audience was a topic of much debate.  I think the right approach is to use the many internet networks available like MySpace, FaceBook, etc and add music documentaries, music videos, viral videos.  Everything about the artist should have a music soundtrack.  The songs are associated with the musician.  This will lead to downloads and purchases.

I also like the idea of virtual cafes, Cafe Sonique is just one of many.  The idea is a band or singer performs live at a certain time in a virtual world.  Anyone in the world can get on the internet and see the performer live.  Just like any other performance, CD’s (and in this case, downloads) are made available for purchase at the show.  The hardest part is getting an audience to discover the musician in the first place but the same holds true for independent films and documentaries.  It takes marketing and word of mouth.  Part of any budget these days has to cover the costs of getting the word out virally on the internet and in the press, because otherwise the money spent for the videos, documentaries or for a virtual live performance is wasted money.

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