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Topic: Common practice or unethical?

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  1. #1

    Common practice or unethical?

    Here\'s my question.

    For those aspiring film composers (like myself) who need to build a demo reel showcasing their creative talents, is it acceptible to use small sections of someone else\'s movie.

    For example: Take a 2:00 - 3:00 minute section of XXX film, remove all the music, then write your own piece. If one is creative enough and has the time, even add sound efx, dialog etc. to add authenticity to the piece.

    Have some type of disclaimer with something to the effect...

    \"This film is sole property of so & so director / producer. This is intended soley for
    demonstrational purposes and cannot be used for any other purpose etc...

    Or something to that effect.

    Is this a common practice, legal to do or is this considered unethical?

    Any thoughts on this subject?

    Regards,

    Mark Dalzell

  2. #2

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    I would have thought this is fine (sure I remember recommending doing this in some book - maybe Jeff Rona\'s), as long only for demo purposes. In fact, producers would probably react favourably to seeing well-known actors on screen with your music - just make sure the music lives up to the original (in case they have seen the original film)!

  3. #3
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    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    I think it\'s a waste of time.... (and I would guess that most industry people would find it amateur)


    I mean, chances are the original music is better than what you\'re doing. So what\'s the point? It\'s a little bit like a new filmmaker using Thomas Newman\'s music to kick up their flick, Thomas Newman would never do their flick. No one is gonna hire you to do LOTR so it\'s pretty pointless IMO, and in fact my come off as presumptuous to place your music along side a great film. I would be willing to bet that it\'d come off to an industry person as \"Hey I\'m ready to do these types of films, even though I don\'t have any experience with them\".

    Someone out there will let you score their flick based on just your music alone. I doubt anyone will ask you to \"see\" a reel.


    Although it\'d probably be good practice --- if you don\'t know the music and film front to back. I bet that is what the dude (Jeff?) in the book meant.

  4. #4

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    [ QUOTE ]
    For example: Take a 2:00 - 3:00 minute section of XXX film...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Now that\'s something I\'d never thought of. Scoring for a XXX film! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] Although I doubt it would showcase your scoring tallents much. All you have to do is toss in a little \"chicky-boom, chicky-boom\" with a bit of funk. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Seriously though, I agree with kid-surf that it might appear presumptuous. But I don\'t agree with the negative unambitious view that nobody is ever going to ask you to do LOTR. Believe in yourself at all times and never be discouraged.

    Now while I have no idea if using other\'s films is a common practice in demo-reeling, an interesting twist might be to take a known mediocre film and see if you can take what was a box-office flop and turn it into a masaterpiece (or as close as you can come to it) with your score. The fact that it\'s a known tanker might have a negative impact, but if you presented it from the beginning with the premise that you can take a piece of crap and make it seem like art, then that might actually look impressive. That way, it doesn\'t look like you\'re depending on someone else\'s creativity to elevate your own material, but rather your material is capable of elevating someone else\'s trash. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img] And isn\'t that what most filmmakers really want and need these days? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    I agree with Brady. Plus it\'s cool when you hear music only and it\'s loud and clear. Visuals can really help the effectivness of the musical cue, especially the first time you hear it.

  6. #6

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Is this a common practice, legal to do or is this considered unethical?

    Any thoughts on this subject?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I have several books and have taken a few classes where it\'s described as common, accepted practice. The idea is that you put proper attribution as to source, and state that the material is for private viewing only. In the strictest legal sense, cutting or changing the form or content of a copyrighted work is a no-no except in certain circumstances, but for this purpose it is often overlooked - just as is the practive of using copyrighted music as \"temp\" score for a feature film that is in development. As long as things stay within the bounds of industry common practice, things are relatively OK, or at least passed over as not worth the trouble.

    Where things get tricky is with the new DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), which disallows any decoding or decrypting of material from DVD or other protected media. This means that if you grab a scene from a DVD that you are technically contravening their copyright - even with the presumed right to re-record for private use, as with video tapes. There currently are efforts on-going to reverse this and restore individual\'s rights to fair use, but the jury\'s out. The technical claim used to be that if you\'re not charging admission to see your work, and the amount that you\'re using does not represent a substantial portion of the original, then it\'s O.K. -- but now it\'s much more murky.

    If you\'re smart about it and select good scenes, you should be fine. I\'ve had people tell me that they can\'t go back to some of the scenes I\'ve scored without hearing my music as the \"proper\" score, so if you choose wisely you can make a good impression.

    Best,
    Houston

    P.S. When I deliver a spec demo, I always send two discs - a DVD+R of the video and an audio CD, unless they specify one or the other. It\'s the best of both worlds and they get to choose to view once on DVD and then put the CD in their car and \"roll it around\" while stuck in L.A. traffic, etc.

  7. #7
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    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    Whoa....

    No negativity. Just saying, you aren\'t gonna do LOTR for your \"first\" flick (or even in the first ten). Not saying it shouldn\'t be a goal, not at all. Just that it seems many people would love to do these HUGE 200 mil flicks. You\'re kidding yourself if you think anyone would even consider you for that type of thing. So my point was, it\'s pointless to \"demo\" for a huge flick. Because by the time you get that job, your demo is previous blockbusters. That\'s all I meant by that.


    I do think it\'s a good idea in theory what you described, but why not learn by working on original stuff instead --- stuff you don\'t have to \"disclaimer\", stuff that may win an oscar, or get distribution, or build a relationship. None of that stuff happens with this other scenario. That\'s the problem as I see it. And who\'s there to say \"that\'s not the vibe I wanted\" (surprising how much of this music would be keeper stuff huh. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] ). Know what I mean? The collaboration... or more so \"trying to please people\" ain\'t there. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    I guess I\'m curious if anyone here has been asked for a \"video\" reel in recent times. I\'m submitting to some pretty up there people (to me) and not one has asked me for any \"video\" reel, all they want is a CD. But scoring an entire film that\'s already been released? Honestly, no one will watch it. So then it just becomes a learning tool. Which isn\'t bad, but to me the alternative is just getting real gigs, even though they\'re small.


    I honestly don\'t think directors give a crap about seeing your work with other films, they are about \"their\" films. Those are the only films that matter to them... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]


    But--how would you get any work done scoring \"XXX\"? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  8. #8

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    [ QUOTE ]
    No negativity. Just saying, you aren\'t gonna do LOTR for your \"first\" flick (or even in the first ten).

    [/ QUOTE ]

    That\'s a fair point.

    [ QUOTE ]
    I do think it\'s a good idea in theory what you described, but why not learn by working on original stuff instead

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Of course that would be ideal. But some of us unfortunately don\'t have access to much original, unscored film material. But you\'re probably right, depending on the segment of the industry you\'re talking about, a lot of prospective clients may just want to send you a few seconds from their project for you to do or something. But it wouldn\'t hurt to have something to show - prefferably original material. After all, I think that\'s how alot of film scorers are chosen - the director hears a score he likes in another film and wants to reproduce that to a degree in his own. So in a way he defeinitely does go off of a composer\'s work on other people\'s films.

  9. #9
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    Re: Common practice or unethical?





    BTW--- I don\'t think it\'s such a good idea to \"try\" and elevate a bad flick. I don\'t think most non musical people can make the distinction. Even if you were able to elevate it (sure you might realize it, and other composers may, but would they.... I\'m thinking, not). It\'d be hard to make a dent in an otherwise trashed film.


    It\'s far easier to set a tone if none has been established... good or bad. It\'s the first time they\'ve seen/heard it. No preconceived ideas. which is probably for the best. IMO.

    Great film -- horrible film... either way it\'s an up hill battle IMO.

  10. #10

    Re: Common practice or unethical?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Great film -- horrible film... either way it\'s an up hill battle IMO.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Agreed. I try to target to genre and a cross-section of budget levels from various films I have on the shelf. It helps to have a wife that\'s a screenwriter and film buff. Not only does she help me pick out scenes from movies (in the catalog that\'s in her head) but she will also act in the \"director\'s role\" -- helping to spot the clip, as a checksum against my role as composer. Finding someone you can trust to fill that role may give your examples a better perceived balance.

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