A blog and podcast from silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model covering the techniques of creating and performing live scores to silent films, as well as a discussion of the language of silent cinema. Find what goes on in the mind of a silent film accompanist before, during and after playing for a show. Learn about the aesthetics of silent filmmaking and storytelling language.
Played for The Beggar Maid (1921, dir. H. Blache) this afternoon at the Met. The film preceded a lecture on Tiffany and the Tiffany estate, and the house was packed with museum-goers (plus a bunch of people I recognized from my e-list). The film was shown in a 16mm from Milestone Film & Video; Eastman House has a 35mm print, but the museum (this wasn't MoMA) can currently show only 16mm and video.
I had a chance to preview the film ahead of time, which was nice. I decided on a Debussy-ish, 1920's parlor music sound -- and this was one of those times when improvisation and the flexibility it allows you, came into play. As I started and as the film progressed I felt this "feel" was a bit too much. This came from sensing the vibe in the room and the way the audience was experiencing the film. I pulled back a little, and then gradually dialed it back up till the flava was just right. The audience was having a little more fun with the picture than I'd anticipated, and I was able to shift and adapt for their maximum enjoyment of this rare classic.
Played for Keaton's Our Hospitality at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY. Had a great house, and the film went over big-time. Pretty impressive for suburban Long Island on a Weds eve, but this theater has had a history of showing silents. I'll be back there in March for Pandora's Box (the new 35mm print!), and hopefully in April as well.
I've got two Immigrant shows at AMMI this week. There haven't been any since mid-Dec, but I suspect this will pick up now that schools are resuming field trips. Am also finishing up a DVD release for ReelclassicDVD, and will post again when it's released.