Thursday, February 21, 2008
Here's a trailer for the Houdini set:
Homework: review Langdon shorts, Wings, and Ben Hur for next week's shows. The Immigrant at AMMI will take care of itself (playing once on 2/28 and twice on 2/29).
Oh yeah, and...here are photos taken by Melissa Harris, Boise State Univ. Photographic Services, of me showing how the theatre organ works to attendees of the reception for the launch of the Nell Shipman Scholarship Fund at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise.
Will report again next week if/when I come up for air...
See you at the silents!
Sunday, February 17, 2008
- Feb - Wings
- Mar - The General
- Apr - Seventh Heaven
- June - Phantom Carriage
- Aug - Flesh and the Devil
- Oct - West of Zanzibar
Another silent film now "off the menu":
One odd snag that has come up is that in order to show It with Clara Bow one must not only license the film through Kino, but Kevin Brownlow's Photoplay Productions must be contacted for a license to have live accompaniment of any kind, regardless of who is playing and what the score is. This was to be our May program, but we will be picking something else. This is the first I've heard of someone having the rights to live accompaniment of a silent film, and it makes no sense to me. I can understand the Chaplin family's insisting on orchestral performance of Chaplin's own score as a proviso to allowing you to license a Chaplin film, but to charge extra just to be able to accompany a film is a new one on me. I don't think this condition existed during the silent era, and am not sure how this is possible now. When I find out I will post it here.
k k k k k
- recording a score for a Mabel Normand short for Kino
- previewing and preparing music for next week's shows of Ben Hur and Wings
- more to come...
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Seen below are, from L to R: me, Andrew Simpson, and Joe Yransky (the first "Y" is silent, BTW):
Coming up next at the MTMM series (Weds'es at 2:30pm in Feb) are Frederick Hodges (CA) and David Drazin (Chicago).
Have booked two showing in May (5/1 and 5/2 at 1:30) of a repeat of the Bert Williams program. It will include Fish, Natural Born Gambler, plus the first 10 mins of the work-in-progress assembly of the unreleased BW film that was shown in raw unedited takes at the Feb 2 show. Anyone who missed the Feb 2 show and is available for the repeats should come. The prints are incredibly sharp and, seen on a big screen at the right speed, really show Williams's talents.
Sunday's Silent Clowns show was a big hit...especially considering it was Chaplin. We've often had lite turnouts for Chaplin programs, but we had a pretty full house. Hopefully we'll do well with our next, a program of Langdon comedies.
Am looking forward to some downtime...have been performing almost daily for two weeks, and the Langdon show is Feb 24. Week of 2/24 finds me with 7 shows in 6 days: Langdon, Wings, and Ben Hur, plus 4 Immigrant shows at AMMI. Have some recording to do in the next week or so (more about that when I can talk about it).
See you at the silents!
Friday, February 08, 2008
Friday's sched is a little lighter (don't have to start till 12noon, and only playing for two films, one at noon (The Trail of the North Wind, 1924) and at the big evening event at 7pm (The Grub Stake, 1922). No spoken intros, just me and the Robert Morton...and Ms. Shipman onscreen.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Introducing the morning programs was Channel 7's meteoroloigist Rick Lantz (no relation to Walter), who also covers education and/or arts events. Rick greeted the kids then handed the mic over to me.
In three hours (at 9.30, 10.30 and 11.30 am) we showed silent films to 2,100 6th graders this morning. The 3 programs included both the Shipman and Keaton shorts; no time for me to use the organ. Kids were focused, even riveted, for both shorts. We opened with the Shipman, and even though it was a drama it really held the kids' attention.
The TVYS is seen setting up here -- you get a good sense of the Egyptian decor of the theater, and also can see the organ console.Seen below are photos of the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony performing my orchestral scores to The Light on Lookout starring Nell Shipman (score world premiere!) ---- and to Keaton's One Week (which the TVYS premiered in 2004).The kids sounded great at all 3 shows, and Dr. Saunders (the conductor) really had the scores in synch with the films. Tonight is the big "Musical Movies" event, where I'll talk about the organ and demonstrate it a little before running the Arbuckle picture.
KBOI radio. We did 5-6 mins talking about what I do and what the TVYS will be doing on Thurs night. Show is simulcast on teevee. Next up? Drive-thru breakfast and back on the road to Nampa for --
South Middle School. A gymna-torium with a couple hundred sixth graders, a digital keyboard, me and Buster Keaton in One Week. Big hit. Kids loved the film, and the show really got me pumped.
After that I was at the College of Idaho, doing a lunch roundtable with music composition students and then a one hour talk/demo (with BK One Week again) for a music history class. All went well. Talked up the Miditzer. Done yet? Nope, off to the Egyptian theatre for some getting acquainted time on the Robert Morton theatre organ:
Took a little bit to get my sea-legs on this, but everything clicked and I had a great time. After rehearsal, off to dinner at a local restaurant, then to the TVYS rehearsal. Hadn't heard my orch score ot One Week in a couple years (although I use the themes from it when I accompany it) and hadn't heard the Shipman Light on Lookout since I finished it, and certainly not with live musicians. The students are doing a great job, and the school group shows at the Egyptian tom'w should be great.
Afterward, before heading back for shuteye, I had a nice surprise on the marquee of the theater:
Tomorrow's gonna be another long day, but luckily I don't have to perform at the school shows in the A.M (9:30, 10:30 and 11:30), just talk a little. I play at the evening program.
More to report tomorrow!
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Well, I just flew in from New York and boy are my arms tired. Was picked up at the airport and taken straight to NBC affil KTVB to be on News at Noon, along with Dr. Paul Collins (seen above, with me and host Larry Gebert on set), Tom Trusky and Jim Ogle to promote the Nell Shipman events on Friday Feb 8. The segment went well and hopefully will generate some b.o. for the shows.
Tomorrow is a whirlwind: early am TV appearance, followed by a radio segment, then a presentation at a middle school in Nampa, then off to College of Idaho for a roundtable lunch with music students, and a presentation to composition students. After that I'll get a chance to play the Robert-Morton theatre organ at the Egyptian in the afternoon. Looking forward to getting reacquainted with the instrument. That evening I'll be at the dress rehearsal for the Boise Phil's youth symphony, who'll be putting finishing touches on their concert pieces and my orch scores to One Week (Keaton) and The Light on Lookout (Nell Shipman). Then I go back to where I'm staying and...will probably plotz.
Am weary right now, but am having a great time, and happy to help support these two wonderful projects. And so the silent film 'missionary work' continues...
Sunday, February 03, 2008
IDAHO'S MAID OF SILENT FILM
There are two people linking the Musical Movies Project and the Nell Shipman Film Festival: Shipman herself and silent film composer and accompanist Ben Model.
Let's start with Shipman (1892-1970), a little-known Idaho legend of silent film who eschewed the slapstick of Chaplin and Keaton movies for dramatic works featuring heroic women in the outdoor splendor of northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
"She was an indie before Sundance," said Tom Trusky, BSU English professor, Hemingway Western Studies Center director and head of the Idaho Film Collection. "She believed in local shooting, not studio back lots or soap detergent snowstorms."
A Shipman film, "The Light on Lookout," will be part of the Thursday's Musical Movies Project. So will Model, who also is performing at Friday's Nell Shipman Film Festival.
In both cases, Model, the Museum of Modern Art's silent film accompanist, will be playing the Egyptian Theatre's famed organ, one of a few original theater organs still in operation in the United States. Not even New York City, where Model lives, has an original working theater organ.
Model composed scores for three movies showing at the Musical Movies Project as well as "The Grub-Stake," which will be screened at the Shipman festival.
He will play the Egyptian organ during a screening of Fatty Arbuckle's "Love."
The goal of performing music for a silent film, Model said, is to support the on-screen action, whether it's the rhythm and flow of a physical gag or something with a more dramatic flare, such as Shipman's work.
In composing a piece, Model develops a few leitmotifs, or themes, that he weaves together with improvisation during the performance, being mindful of the vibe of the audience and careful not to draw attention away from the movie.
"Each silent film showing is a unique experience," he said. "The key is to take the film as seriously as the people who made it. When the lights go off, I'm working for them."