by Dan Goldwasser
From July 19-22, BSOSpirit held the 3rd Annual International Film Music Conference in Úbeda, Spain. This event brought together film music professionals from Hollywood, as well as fans from all across the globe, in four days of panel discussions, award ceremonies and meals, all culminating in a gargantuan concert event featuring numerous world premiere suites - some conducted by the very composers who wrote them.
The conference panels were held in the chapel at the 16th century era El Hospital de Santiago, beginning with a Tribute to Miklos Rozsa presented by Robert Townson of Varese Sarbande Records. This was followed by publicist Ray Costa discussing how to market composers in Hollywood, and then Spanish composer Pascal Gaigne held a panel discussing his work. Technical difficulties delayed the start of the Second Annual GoldSpirit Awards/Jerry Goldsmith Award Competition for Young Film and Audiovisual Composers, where awards were handed out for Best Short Film Score, Best Feature Film Score, Best Free Creation/Project in Development Score, and Best Young Composer.
The courtyard of El Hospital de Santiago is where the events would take place
David Arnold, John Scott, Richard Kraft and John Debney at lunch
The second day of the conference started with a John Scott and then John Debney holding panel discussions. Debney had visual aids for his panel, in which he showed clips from some of his films without music, and then with the final score. After a lunch break, Robert Townson of Varese Sarabande held a panel discussing the record industry side of the film music business, which was then followed by composer agents Richard Kraft and Laura Engel, who explained how they get their clients hired on projects.
Agents Richard Kraft and Laura Engel talk about representing composers
Javier Navarrete was unable to attend the conference as scheduled, and replacing his panel was the European Premiere of Finding Kraftland, the documentary about Richard Kraft's obsessions and his relationship with his son Nicky. The afternoon panels were held in another venue, as the Hospital chapel was being used for orchestra rehearsals for Saturday evening's concert.
Bruce Broughton practices Silverado
David Arnold practices Casino Royale
David Arnold watches as Pascual Oso rehearses Stargate
After dinner, the GoldSpirit Awards Ceremony was held in a local theater, the Teatro Ideal Cinema. Basically the "Best of 2006", video presentations were held for numerous categories including Best Action Score, Best Comedy Score, etc. Fortunately all of the guests in attendance won awards, whether through a "Best of" category (David Arnold got three, including "Best Song" for Casino Royale), or an honorary award (Bruce Broughton and John Scott). Also included in the ceremony was a tribute to composer Basil Poledouris, who conducted a 40-minute Conan the Barbarian suite last year, before succumbing to his cancer in November. James Newton Howard's score to Lady in the Water got numerous awards, and he was also named Composer of the Year. By the time all of the awards were handed out, it was 2:30am, and the show had gone on longer than the Academy Awards!
Richard Kraft gets his GoldSpirit Award (left) / John Powell accepts his award (right)
Saturday morning started off in the same theater as the previous evening's award ceremony, since the orchestra was still rehearsing for the evening's concert. Composers David Arnold (Stargate) and then Roque Baños (Alatriste, The Machinist) held their panels, followed by a lunch break.
David Arnold's panel discussion
David Arnold signs CDs for his fans after his panel discussion
After the break, John Powell (Happy Feet, The Bourne Ultimatum) held his panel, in which he played selections from his iPod, showing what music he listens to, and what inspires him. Nancy Knutsen, ASCAP's Senior VP of Film and Television Music, held a panel discussion talking about performing rights and while the discussion got rather technical, there were plenty of aspiring composers in the audience who were happy to learn the information presented.
John Scott, David Arnold, Nancy Knutsen, John Debney, John Powell and Bruce Broughton (with Elmer Bernstein's baton) just before the concert
The concert was scheduled to start at 10pm, but didn't actually start until 10:30pm, with John Debney (the Honorary President of the conference) kicking it off with his suite of music from the upcoming PS3 dragon-riding videogame, Lair. This was followed by his CutThroat Island suite, which sadly did not take advantage of the choir present.
The concert was held in the courtyard of a 16th Century Hospital
Although he was not in attendance, Javier Navarrete's suite from his Oscar-nominated score to Pan's Labyrinth was performed, conducted by the very passionate Pascual Osa. This was followed with music by Spanish composers Marc Vaillo, Pascal Gaine, and Roque Baños, the latter of which performed a new suite of music from Alatriste, which was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.
The audience applauds Roque Baños for his Alatriste suite
After a 30-minute intermission, the second half of the concert began (at 12:30am) with a Varese Sarabande raffle, in which Robert Townson drew the winners. The grand prize was a few dozen autographed soundtracks, making it an instant collection. Humorously enough, it was Townson's own brother who won the raffle, but graciously re-donated the prize for another drawing, allowing a delighted film score fan to collect his prize.
David Arnold took to the podium to conduct a new suite of music from Casino Royale. He explained to the audience that he was not a conductor, and to prove the point, he was conducting with a breadstick - which he ate after finishing the piece. It was well done, but the guitar player was not able to keep up with the orchestra, which made it sound a little loose. Osa took back up to the stage to conduct a new 15-minute long suite from Stargate, which was rousing and well done for the most part.
John Powell did not conduct his music, letting Osa continue to stay on stage, and premiered a new piece from the upcoming score to P.S. I Love You, a light and airy piece that was melodic and refreshing. Unfortunately, performance issues during the rehearsals resulted in the suite from The Bourne Ultimatum being scrapped, but they continued on with X-Men: The Last Stand, and the great cue, "Building the Crate" from Chicken Run - complete with kazoos in the choir!
Kazoos for Chicken Run!
John Powell congratulates Pascual Osa for conducting Chicken Run
Finally, Bruce Broughton got up to conduct suites from Young Sherlock Holmes and Silverado, the latter of which was a great showpiece to end the concert. When all the composers got up on stage to take their bows, it was 2:30am, and the orchestra (and audience) were all understandably tired. There was a private reception following the concert for the BSOSpirit team and guests, which ran until 5am - requiring that Sunday's CD signing event was postponed until noon.
Bruce Broughton conducts Young Sherlock Holmes
John Powell, Bruce Broughton, David Arnold, John Debney and conductor Pascual Osa take their bows
The signing ran for almost three hours, and everyone was able to get their CDs signed, and photos taken with the composers. This was followed by a gala luncheon, where all of the conference attendees were able to mingle with the composers, and in all have a good time.
Composers sign CDs for the fans
The fans line up to get autographs and photos
The afternoon's events included a composer roundtable discussion, in which there were some rather humorous responses to Debney's opening question "What is film music to you?" Bruce Broughton's panel followed, and then Robert Townson held a Varese Sarabande "Listening Party" where he played tracks from some upcoming fall releases, including Schifrin's Rush Hour 3, Elfman's The Kingdom, Doyle's The Last Legion and McNeely's I Know Who Killed Me, among others. After a dinner break it, was time for the closing Flamenco party, where the sangria flowed quite liberally.
Úbeda has been designate a World Heritage city by the United Nations, and has lots of history within the city walls. There's 13th century churches, medieval buildings (some used as hotels for the guests), and an amazing number of olive trees in the valley below the city. It's out of the way (about 4 hours from Madrid) and the municipality made lots of accommodations for the Film Music Conference to be held there. The people were welcoming, the food was pork-heavy but good, and while there were some technical difficulties (and some orchestral performance issues), everyone's heart was in the right place - it's all about the shared love of film music.
This type of conference wouldn't feel the same in a larger city like Los Angeles, London or Madrid - people would be able to vanish into the city after the panels had finished. By being contained, there was a kind of "Úbeda Spirit" permeating the conference, in which composers and fans were allowed to mingle, talk, interact, and overall feel welcome and accepted.
Over the course of this year's conference, Bruce Broughton was named the president for next year's event, and Varese Sarabande's Robert Townson was named Artistic Director. Hopefully next year's conference will act upon the lessons learned at this year's (at the very least, a shorter awards show, and an earlier start-time for the concert), and SoundtrackNet looks forward to bringing you more coverage then.
Very special thanks to Sergio Gorjón, David Doncel, José Luis Díez-Chellini and everyone at BSOSpirit for their exceptional work, dedication and support. Further thanks to Ray Costa, Richard Kraft, David Arnold, Bruce Broughton and Nancy Knutsen.