Last summer I composed a film score for Buster Keaton’s silent film classic, Sherlock Jr.
I first heard about this project on June 8, received confirmation on June 23 and was booked for four performances on Sept. 26 at the brand new TIFF Bell Lightbox. In the meantime, I traveled to Barcelona from June 25- July 6, then was off to Halifax from July 14-18. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to start writing until the last two weeks in July. Even so, I had a few days booked in the studio to mix my new CD, Two Kites, plus three performances including a solo concert at the Burlington Jazz Festival.
I was told that TIFF wanted the score to have a lot of klezmer music. Therefore, I decided that I’d score it for a klezmer/jazz sextet consisting of accordion, clarinet/sax, violin, piano, bass and drums.
I had a deadline, a stylistic guideline, instrumentation, plus an absolutely brilliant 44 minute long silent film.
Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like real parameters!
I often think about the fact that it’s so much easier for me to complete a project when there is an external deadline. Internal deadlines are way trickier. I can slip, get distracted, abandon projects and leave unfinished compositions and arrangements buried in my notebooks or in my digital recording device. (I use a Roland Edirol R-09. Love it!) Or other external deadlines pop up which demand my complete attention, and as time goes by the urgency to finish an earlier project starts to diminish…
Deadlines are crucial for an artist. They really help focus creative energy, keep you moving forward, and give you something concrete to work toward. They also help you keep your priorities in place and say “no” when necessary. When I don’t have a clear goal in mind, I can waste a lot time.
I love deadlines!