Scoring films is such an interesting, almost subliminal art form (The score is the music that plays under the scenes). In a way, when a score is at its best, you don’t notice it consciously. But it sure can move you on a sub-conscious level.
Working on films is such a collaborative process, you have to be in sync with the director, writer, and producers working toward a shared vision. I feel my background in theater and improv has helped me in this area, and given me a good sense of scenic structure; how music can work with dialog, heighten the underlying emotions of the scene, or serve as a transition from scene to scene. Sometimes musicians find it frustrating to write music for films, because serving the scene must always take precedence over purely musical considerations. To me, that’s the interesting challenge. Plus, I just love the collaborative process.
SLICE OF PIE started out as a cd made by my husband, Rick Hall, of stories he’d written, inspired by growing up on a farm in Central Illinois. Our friend, Tim Reischauer, heard one of the stories and knew it would make a great film. So Rick wrote the screenplay, and in the fall of 2008 they went back to Rick’s hometown to shoot. It was big excitement in Carollton, Illinois! Tim directed, Rick played the lead, and Kelly Macleod (my partner from The Sweet Potatoes) was the female lead. With a tiny budget and a skeleton crew, they made a beautiful movie.
When I scored the film, I wanted the music to have the down home sort of feel that the movie has. I’m very pleased with how the score turned out. (And I stayed within our budget!) Norm Macleod (Kelly's husband) did the sound design, mixing, dialog editing, sound effects, you name it. If it had anything to do with the sound, he did it. I got to work closely with him, it was a great opportunity for me to learn about how all the sound elements work together in a film.
The movie has been in loads of film festivals, and won lots of awards. I’m very proud of everyone who was involved with the project. And, it was during the making of the film that Rick got the idea for Kelly and I to do music together, which was the birth of our band, The Sweet Potatoes.
Visit the Slice of Pie website
Swimming in Auschwitz
In 2006 I was approached by director/producer, Jon Kean, to compose music for this amazing documentary about Holocaust survivors. After viewing a rough cut of the film, I was deeply moved and knew I wanted to be a part of this project.
Jon interviewed six Jewish women who were all Auschwitz survivors. Each was an excellent story teller, able to make their experiences come to life for the listener. I was especially touched when the women talked about the ways the "camp sisters" helped each other through such a difficult time. They survived because they took care of each other.
It was a somewhat overwhelming experience to score this deeply emotional and disturbing story. I had so much compassion for these women; at times it was hard for me to distance myself enough to compose the music.
Jon suggested I write the score for a string quartet. I wanted it to have an Eastern European, Jewish feel, but I also wanted it to be personal and emotionally connected to the women’s stories. Using a string quartet was a great way to accomplish both those goals. I worked closely with a great arranger/orchestrator and dear friend, Luke Hannington, who helped take my ideas and make them work for real, live string players. He also conducted the quartet at the recording session.
I am very proud to have been part of this
remarkable documentary. It's won many awards and screened on Public Television stations across the country. If you'd like to learn more about the movie,
or order a copy for your school, temple, church, etc. please go to www.swimminginauschwitz.com