Festival promotes film-music compositions and composers
Ryan Summerlin August 19, 2014
Since 2003, the Park City Film Music Festival has promoted the art of film-music compositions.
That’s part of the mission of the Park City Chamber Music Society, which is the parent organization of the Film Music Festival and the Park City Beethoven Festival, which just ended its summer season two weeks ago, said director Leslie Harlow.
The Park City Film Music Festival will be held at The Prospector Inn and Conference Center from Saturday, Aug. 23, through Sunday, Aug. 30.
Harlow said she started the Film Music Festival for several reasons.
"One is that I record for film quite a bit and I enjoy doing that," Harlow told The Park Record. "It really requires you to be strong in classical music."
Harlow performed in many film scores, including playing the viola solos in the film score for Marc Rocco’s 1995 docudrama "Murder in the First," starring Christian Slater and Kevin Bacon.
"That was an amazingly difficult, but fun, thing to do," Harlow said. "The whole film score is filled with viola and cello solos. And I did all the viola solos."
The recording sessions took two days and the musicians didn’t get the music ahead of time.
"We just read it," Harlow said. "Every cue was performed straight through, without edits. I loved it. The music was very beautiful so it was inspiring to do it."
The other reason why Harlow wanted to establish the Park City Film Music Festival is because she is dedicated to classical music and music education in schools.
"When people tell me they don’t like classical music, I tell them they actually do, without realizing it," Harlow said. "I tell them if they go to the movies and like the film scores, then they like classical music."
The reason is because musicians have to be classically trained to record a John Williams score, or other scores written by Howard Shore, James Newton Howard or Alan Silvestri, to name a few.
"It is classical music, because you have to have the same amount of classical training to play in an symphony as you do to play on one of those scores," Harlow explained. "In Utah, there are maybe 150 players that are selected from a pool to perform on these scores."
Harlow also wanted to introduce the public to the artists who write the music.
"There are also some fantastic composers doing film scores," she said. "We want to promote that level of composition as well."
One of those composers is Hummie Mann.
Mann, who established the Pacific Northwest Film Score Program, is known for his scores for "Sister Act," "Georgia Rule" and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights."
"He will lead three seminars during the festival," Harlow said. "He’s doing one Saturday, geared to musicians and filmmakers. And the next two will be held on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. It is a great opportunity for people to learn how to compose for film and it’s also a great way to learn some more skills. I would like people to come, even if they don’t have a strong background in music, but are still musicians."
Of course, a major component of the Park City Film Music Festival is film screenings.
This year, there will be more than 100 films shown throughout the week.
"A lot of them will be short films," Harlow explained. "We get quite a bit of shorts, because filmmakers and composers hone their crafts with short films. Many composers pour their best work into short films when they’ve been asked by filmmakers to introduce themselves and have something in their resume."
The film categories this year will be short films, documentary, music documentary, feature films and performance or experimental films.
"We have received many wonderful shorts, that are real treasures," Harlow said. "We have also scheduled a series of documentaries and documentaries about music."
Selecting and scheduling the feature films proved to be challenging, because of time constraints.
"We only have a certain amount of time to screen these longer films," Harlow said. "I am going to screen two feature films a day. We have some really nice ones."
The Park City Film Music Festival has received submissions for the past year from filmmakers and composers from around the world.
"There is a great film from Turkey, called ‘Butterfly’s Dream,’ which is based on a true story about two Turkish poets at the beginning of World War II," Harlow said. "It probably has a more sophisticated title in Turkish, but I can’t even begin to pronounce it, but I’m excited to show it."
One of the festival’s more esoteric categories is the performance or experimental films. "They are kind of art films with mixed media that doesn’t fit in any other criteria," Harlow said. "Even a music video can be considered and experimental film."
In addition to Mann’s workshops and the film screenings, the Park City Film Music Festival will also feature a performance by the Salt Lake Pops Orchestra.
"It’s a smaller group who will perform film-score music," Harlow said. "They will perform the first Saturday of the festival at 8 p.m."
Harlow is happy to hold the festival at The Prospector Inn and Conference Center.
"The trick of the event is to make sure you have the right kind of venue to host the screenings and seminars," she said. "This is a window of opportunity, because the Park City Film Series will be at the Prospector this season starting in September."
The Park City Film Music Festival will be held at The Prospector Inn and Conference Center, 2175 Sidewinder Dr., from Saturday, Aug. 23, through Saturday, Aug. 30. Tickets and more information are available by visiting www.pcfmf.org.