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A national association of professional music composers and producers for film, television and media

Cue Notes

Vol.8 No.1 – Spring 2020


View From The Podium: Inspiration from Europe

by John Welsman, President

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“Artists and creators are our crown jewels. The creation of content is not a hobby. It is a profession. And it is part of our European culture”.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, 2016

Recently, 8 music publishers and 8 screen composers were invited to be part of a trade mission and attend the Berlinale Film Festival and European Film Market at the end of February. Six of our board members, Tonya Dedrick, and myself went representing Canadian screen composers. We received support from FACTOR for this trip, and Music Publishers Canada Executive Director Margaret McGuffin was instrumental in making it all happen – we are very grateful to have been invited.

Over the course of five days, we had many opportunities to network with filmmakers, but for many it was our meetings with our fellow European music creators that featured largest in our experience. We learned how a ten-year campaign to change copyright laws in the European Union was fought and ultimately won, resulting in the EU Copyright Directive.

That Directive changed a lot of important things for creators. Perhaps most significantly, it ended the ‘Safe Harbours’ that have allowed large Internet companies to be exempt from the responsibility of tracking content and compensating creators for the masses of copyright content that flow through their internet pipelines day in and day out. Safe Harbours have generated huge income for these Internet companies. Article 17 of the Directive requires websites that “automatically reproduce or refer to significant amounts of copyright-protected visual works” to “conclude fair and balanced licensing agreements with any requesting rights holders”. (I encourage you to read more about this Directive when you have the chance.)

We heard some of the leaders of that campaign tell their stories about how it all went down. Key presenters included Alfons Karabuda, President of European Songwriters and Composers Alliance (ECSA); Marc du Moulin, Secretary General of ECSA; John Phelan, Director General of International Confederation of Music Publishers; and Helga Trüpel, former Member of European Parliament, who was a pivotal force in the creation of the Directive.

A panel entitled ‘Coercion in the film music business – finally illegal’, was particularly powerful: EU lawmakers, including Helga Trüpel, made it clear that forcing composers to give up their copyright and publishing rights in order to secure scoring commissions is in fact coercive.

As in Canada, filmmaking in Europe requires much government support, including grants and tax incentives. Europeans do not look kindly on those receiving such incentives who take advantage of their fellow citizens in their contractual agreements, and we assume Canadians would feel similarly. This assumption is key and will assist us in Canada in our pursuit of fairness in the marketplace. Members of the SCGC executive have already had follow-up meetings with Karabuda and Trüpel and they are strongly aligned in support of our cause here.

We also learned much about five key Articles in the Copyright Directive and the issues they remedy. The most important one for music creators is Article 13, (which became Article 17 in the final Directive,) which addresses the Value Gap. YouTube pays out 20 times less per user per year than Spotify, yet YouTube has 1.9 billion users compared with Spotify’s 100 million paid subscribers. And 1 billion of those YouTube users use it for music.

Article 16 is also hugely important – it provides for remuneration transparency, contract adjustments over time, a redress mechanism, and a revocation right. It’s all about appropriate remuneration for one’s copyrighted work and the ability of a creator to revisit the terms of their original contract if their remuneration hasn’t been commensurate with the success of the project. This process has already been successfully used by the composer of the score for Das Boot – the sequel.

There was a fierce and expensive campaign waged against Articles in the Directive by Google and those who believe in an ‘Open Internet’ where everything should be ‘free;’ they spent over 200 million euros on that campaign. What we learned about this unprecedented lobby operation had the makings of a John le Carré spy novel. There were phone campaigns that overwhelmed the phone lines of Members of the European Parliament, email campaigns that flooded their inboxes, even death threats that were received by some of our people fighting for these changes. Google spent over 31 million Euros on their campaign in Germany alone. We heard about the spread of misinformation by the ‘Against’ side, and the myth busting work done by the ‘For’ side to clarify exactly what was true and what was false.

47% of Tweets in the #censorshipmachines campaign and 30% of tweets in the #saveyourinternet campaign originated as bots from the USA (sourced to companies from Seattle and Vancouver). Before each vote, Wikipedia shut down its homepage in several European countries – despite express exclusion from the scope of the law. This coincided with Google announcing additional funding of $3.1 million to Wikipedia.

We were also reminded of the importance of creators’ actions, the world over, in mounting a video petition campaign asking the MEPs to please ‘do what’s right, and vote FOR the Copyright Directive’. That was a campaign many of us took part in, and we can be proud of that contribution.

The discovery of some of these underhanded tactics and the campaign of misinformation must surely have influenced MEPs away from the ‘Against’ and over to the ‘For’ side. In the end, after huge effort on the part of many, the EU Copyright Directive was passed. As big a victory as this was – and it WAS an incredible victory against very well organized forces with very deep pockets – the job isn’t finished yet. Each country in the EU must now put these new terms into their own laws, and that’s not a simple process. So the work continues for those who badly want these changes put in place.

The job is not finished in Canada either: Google and others employ people in every country to fight for a ‘free internet’ – in Canada we have Michael Geist whose anti-copyright point of view must be exposed for what it is: copyright theft.

Europe has led the way updating laws that allowed rampant use of copyright works on the Internet without fair compensation for the creators of those works. It is up to the creator community here to follow in their footsteps and work diligently for similar and necessary changes to our copyright laws in Canada. We’ve all come away from the Berlin experience inspired to create something here in Canada that’s as wonderful as what the Europeans have been able to do.

Along with our Board of Directors, I want to assure you how committed I am to this mission. We want changes that will make the digital space a fairer one for all creators, without whose valuable works NONE of our very prosperous entertainment industries would even exist!

I can’t sign off without a parting thought about the challenge we all face with the COVID-19 virus. We’ve never experienced anything like this in our lives. As our lives have changed so much, and we may find we have more time on our hands than usual, I encourage us all to look for inspiration wherever we can find it. That may be to study something new, to take bigger chances creatively, or to focus energy on our own art, independent of AV projects, in new and different ways. I wish you good health in the coming weeks and months.

John Welsman,
President

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All It Took Was A Pandemic
By Neil Parfitt

 

All it took was a pandemic.

My mom called the other day, bored out of her mind, and stated with exasperation: “I’ve watched the entire internet!” Being behind on many of my favourite shows, this was worrisome, as I didn’t want to become a potato!

I’m an introvert by default, so the social isolation has been no big deal. For many composers, working solo or in small teams is the de-facto mode of operation: a little island! We have the luxury of staying somewhat at arms-length from the more considerable ruckus of production. However, as I discovered very quickly, this also makes us very vulnerable. We’re like the telepathic mutants in Total Recall relying on Cohaagen for our air supply!

Within two days I’ve seen two of my three long-term contracts postponed, (with no resume date,) and the other is hanging by a thread. So here I am, just having sunk megabucks into a studio revamp to be ready for this next wave of insanity… and… nope!

Suddenly, I have more free time than I’ve ever had in my life. What is there to do without seeing friends and family in the flesh?

It turns out there are a million things one tends to put on the backburner when forever busy: the ignored “I’ll do it later” list.  Now, they didn’t stand a chance; I dove in!

Surprisingly, this took less time than anticipated to complete, as there were no outside interruptions while tackling these tasks. My shed, garage, furnace room, kitchen junk drawers, closets, and documents: ORGANIZED! Of course resulting in a heap of items destined for a probable social relic: The Garage Sale. I can see my future self telling my niece a story from yesteryear: “I remember back in the day when I’d sit on my porch dealing with hagglers over some junk… and still make more money than my Netflix Royalties!”

I was feeling great! And then, without warning, I was struck with what a musician/hoarder dreads most: sorting out the “music stuff.”

Oh, we all have it in one way or another: that tub of old cables and mystery wall warts, those sample library folders in disarray that “you’ll get to,” those messy wires under the desk that could use tidying, hard drives with “sort” folders, random notes and papers, nooks full of legacy gear, cables and defunct software that “I’ll deal with one day.”

This past week, I’ve hunkered down and organized and sorted through ALL of it. And honestly, it feels fantastic!  Hey, I have to latch onto something positive in these bleak times right?  Even if it’s the pinnacle of mundane!

So, if you’re sitting around going a little stir-crazy, I recommend taking this time to go through all those things that tend to get shoved to the side for later.  Audition those random patches from sample libraries you’ve barely skimmed through and catalogue your favourites. Tweak those DAW templates. On and on it goes, and for once, many of us will have the time!

All it took was a pandemic.

On a serious note, having a parent with a compromised immune system has made this an even more challenging and stressful time. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to be in contact with everyone in our support circles. Be safe out there!

The Awesome Music Project

 

 

 

During this time of great uncertainty and concern, when many of us are coping with the mental effects of self-isolation, social distancing and quarantine, we at the SCGC felt it was a good time to highlight some of the inspiring efforts of members within our industry. For this Cue Notes issue we would like to feature the work of composer Rob Carli, who, along with Terry Stuart, co-founded the Awesome Music Project.

The Awesome Music Project (AMP) is a not-for-profit organization that explores the powerful force of music through stories, with the goal of raising money for mental health research, programs and awareness.

Mental health or addiction affects 1 in 5 Canadians in a given year and is the leading cause of disability in Canada. Despite growing bodies of research that have been done to show the positive effects of music on mental health, music therapy is still not recognized as a proven protocol in treating mental illness. AMP is funding groundbreaking research at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which aims to examine the effects of music therapy on brain chemistry and further validate music therapy as way of treating anxiety and depression.

Below are links to AMP’s website, as well as a handful of stories from AMP’s book “The Awesome Music Project: Songs of Hope and Happiness.” These stories were written by Canadians from all walks of life and describe their various experiences with the transformative power of music. The ones below are from comedian Rick Mercer, Shekhar Gothi of the Canadian Armed Forces, and singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan. The book, which was released on October 10th, 2019, World Mental Health Day, immediately reached best-seller status on Amazon and is still available for purchase.

In addition to the book, AMP has mounted two sold-out concert events that presented storytellers reading their stories, singers performing songs from those stories, and scientists sharing some insight into what happens in our brains when we hear music. Since the fall, they have raised over $100, 000 and have fully funded the Music Therapy program at Grand River Hospital in the Waterloo Region.

All proceeds from the Awesome Music Project go to fund research at CAMH. Further donations can be made through AMP’s website, but if you are interested in becoming involved in a more hands-on way, please reach out to Rob Carli at rob@robcarli.com.

https://www.theawesomemusicproject.com/

https://www.theawesomemusicproject.com/rickm

https://www.theawesomemusicproject.com/shekharg

https://www.theawesomemusicproject.com/sarahm

Composer Spotlight: Peter Chapman

Home Base: Toronto, ON.

Instruments Played: Keys, guitar, bass, MPC, and turntables. I own a vibraphone, but that doesn’t mean I can play it.

DAW of choice and favourite feature: Logic, solely because I had two other friends using it when I bought it in 2002. Lately I’ve been exploring the Environment a lot, making custom controls and layouts that make my workflow faster.

Favourite score and/or composer, and why: Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the Goonies soundtrack by Dave Grusin. Specifically, “Fratelli Chase” is one of my all-time favourite cues. It encapsulates everything that was awesome about 80s coming-of-age adventure film scores. It also makes me drive very erratically.

Most recent accomplishment: Nominated for two CSAs! Achievement in Music: Original Score and Achievement in Music: Original Song, both for the film Riot Girls. I’m up against Howard Shore in both categories, which feels insane to me. I was hoping to get a high five out of him at the ceremony before it got postponed due to COVID-19. Now I’m on a strict “no high fives” regiment as part of my social distancing efforts.

Other Fun Facts – Hobbies and Pastimes: I have an 18-month old, so at this point, hobbies and pastimes are but a distant foggy memory. I have however become extremely passionate about napping.

Best piece of advice: Nepotism and networking are basically the same thing. It just depends on what side of the gig you’re on, but “networking” is also awkward, weird and uncomfortable. Just build genuine friendships with cool people, so you can have beer buddies regardless of what opportunities they may offer.

Alternate career path, and why: If I weren’t doing this I’d probably be slinging donuts at Coffee Time. Seriously! This is the only employable skill I have.

SCGC at Berlinale 2020

Member News
Nov 30-April 6
Compiled by Elizabeth Hannan

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Events & Appearances

-Adrian Ellis hosted an ‘AMA’ with Martin Mayer in our Facebook Group.

-Charlie Finlay hosted an ‘AMA’ with Joel Schwartz in our Facebook Group.

-Tonya Dedrick met with MP Yasmin Ratansi to discuss Copyright Term Extension, Broadcast Telecommunications Legislative Review, Canada Summer Jobs and MPC’s Women in the Studio Program.

-Elizabeth Hannan and Charlie Finlay teamed up with Murray Diagle and Arun Chaturvedi (SAC) to present at Humber College.

-Representatives from the SCGC went to Berlinale to build connections abroad. Sound Diplomacy, Canadian Music Publishers, the Canadian Government, and FACTOR Canada facilitated the trip.

-The SCGC sponsored a two-day conference entitled “Digital Media at the Crossroads”.

-Stephanie Hamelin Tomala attended the Los Angeles Film conducting intensive.

-The SCGC hosted multiple ‘Score Study Sessions’ in Vancouver.

-The Orchestral Reading Session and master class was held with the help of CFC and the UofT Symphony Orchestra.
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Awards and Recognition

-Janal Bechthold scored ‘Brave Little Army’. The short film was nominated for ‘Best Music Score’ at the Oxford International Short Film Festival.

-Rose Bolton was nominated for a Juno award. ‘Classical Composition of the Year’ with ‘The Coming of Sobs’.
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Canadian Screen Awards Nominations

Achievement in Music – Original Score – Film

-Stephen Krecklo (with Ian LeFeuvre) for ‘James vs. His Future Self’

-Robert Carli for ‘Life Exposed’

-Peter Chapman for ‘Riot Girls’

-Howard Shore for ‘The Song Of Names’

 

Achievement in Music – Original Song – Film

-Peter Chapman (with Leslie Seaforth) for ‘Riot Girls’

-Howard Shore for ‘The Song Of Names’

 

2020 Best Original Music, Fiction (TV)

-Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner for ‘Anne with an E”

-Todor Kobakov for ‘Cardinal’

-Ari Posner (with Ian LeFeuvre) for ‘Carter’

-Tom Third for ‘Coroner’

-Trevor Morris for ‘Vikings’
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2020 Best Original Music, Non-Fiction (TV)

-Ken Myhr for ‘The Accountant of Auschwitz’

-Michelle Osis for ‘The Corporate Coup D’Etat’

-Todor Kobakov for ‘The Guardians’
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2020 Best Original Music, Animation (TV)

-Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner (with Chris Tait and Kris Kuzdak) for ‘Let’s Go Luna!’

 

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Premieres

-SCGC member Amritha Vaz composed the music for ‘Mira, Royal Detective’. The show premiered on Disney.

-SCGC member Lora Bidner composed the main theme and school song for the BBC/Family Channel series ‘Malory Towers’.

-Suad Bushnaq scored ‘Hockey Mom’. The documentary aired on CBC and GEM.

-Steph Copeland scored “The Wedding Planners” with co-composer Sean Nimmons-Paterson. The series premiered on CityTV.

-Season 4 of ‘Workin Moms’ premiered on Feb 18th. Peter Chapman scored the series.

-Peter Chapman and Robert Carli scored ‘Fortunate Son’. The series premiered on CBC.

-‘Secret Nazi Bases’ had it’s Canadian premiere on CBC. Adrian Ellis scored the documentary series.

-Tom Third scored season 2 of Coroner. The series premiered on CBC and NBC Universal.

-Elizabeth Hannan scored ‘See You Tomorrow’. The short film had it’s television premiere on CBC.

-‘Pandora’s Box’ premiered internationally at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Janal Bechthold scored the film.

 

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Screenings

-‘Her Story In Three Parts’ (a short film trilogy) screened in its entirety at the Female Eye Film Festival in the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
David Federman scored Part 1 of the anthology ‘A Simple Act’.

-Medhat Hambali scored “The World According to Amazon”. The documentary was broadcast on CBC.

-David Federman scored ‘Haru’s New Year’. The film screened around the world as a part of the Global Migration Film Festival.

-Medhat Hanbali scored the opening number of the Oliver Gala for Radio-Canada. The gala was broadcast live.

-‘Pandora’s Box’ screened at the Whistler Film Festival. The film was scored by Janal Bechthold.

-‘Unidentified Woman’ screened at the Whistler Film Festival. Timothy Mann scored the film.

 

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Other Releases and News

-Erica Procunier was featured on the podcast ‘Women On Screen’

-Adrian Ellis was featured on “The Cost Of Living” on CBC radio 1.

-The score for ‘Anne with an E’, by Ari Posner and Amin Bhatia, was released on Apple Music.

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Editor’s Pick
with Virginia Kilbertus

As various productions have been halted or delayed due to COVID-19, this is a very distressing time for many screen composers. Below are a handful of links with more information regarding available financial assistance, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. A big thank you to all of the SCGC members who have been active in sharing resources through the email discuss list.

A list of resources compiled by the CBC:
https://www.cbc.ca/arts/here-s-where-canadian-artists-and-freelancers-can-find-help-during-covid-19-shutdowns-1.5503360

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit:
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy.html

The SOCAN Emergency Relief Fund:
https://www.fyimusicnews.ca/articles/2020/04/02/socan-announces-2m-emergency-relief-fund

A list of resources compiled by SOCAN:
https://www.socanmagazine.ca/news/socans-daily-covid-19-updates/

 

In Other News…

Discovery, Netflix and Epidemic Sound in the spotlight as the debate around audio-visual royalties gains momentum
https://completemusicupdate.com/article/discovery-netflix-and-epidemic-sound-in-the-spotlight-as-the-debate-around-audio-visual-royalties-gains-momentum/

Music community in mixed mood as new North American trade treaty gets closer to ramification
https://completemusicupdate.com/article/music-community-in-mixed-mood-as-new-north-american-trade-treaty-gets-closer-to-ratification/

Women Directed Fewer Top-500 Grossing Films in 2019 Than the Previous 2 Years, Study Finds
https://www.thewrap.com/women-female-director-fewer-top-grossing-films-2019/

Female Directors Behind Record Number of Films in 2019 (Study)
https://variety.com/2020/film/news/female-directors-record-films-little-women-hustlers-the-farewell-1203454878/

How Authorless Music’s Rise Will Bring Authorful Music
https://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2019/12/how-authorless-musics-rise-will-bring-authorful-music.html

Young musicians create new music from hundred year old recordings
https://completemusicupdate.com/article/young-musicians-create-new-music-from-hundred-year-old-recordings/

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We welcome your suggestions for story ideas!
Email the Guild: info@screencomposers.ca

Cue Notes:
Virginia Kilbertus
: Editor
Nicholas Stirling: Layout, Web
Tonya Dedrick: Admin

“Taking Possession” is screening at the International Short Film Festival SHORT FORM, in Serbia! Congrats @federmusik! #composer @TakPo_1883

@SCREENCOMPOSERS • about 2 hours ago

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