Indie Inspiration

Indie Inspiration: Music That Inspires

As a director or producer you’ll need music for your production; theme music, credit music and more. But what about before that, when you’re in the initial stages of planning? Music can help you find the emotional themes of your script or the feeling tone and mood you’re looking for.

For today’s Indie Inspiration: Music That Inspires, I want to share three songs with you. Music is inexpressibly important to me. In my everyday life it makes it possible for me to perform otherwise unbearable tasks such as cleaning the house and doing paperwork. In my creative life, music provides vital inspiration for all aspects of filmmaking.

When I was directing theatre, I found it almost impossible to maintain a solid emotional focus for a play until I discovered a piece of music to serve as an emotional ground or touchstone.  I think each piece of really effective and moving art, be it a painting, a story, a dance, a poem, a play, a movie or whatever, always conveys a very specific and powerful predominant emotion or mood.

The sweaty desperation of Dog Day Afternoon, the anguished loneliness and longing of Midnight Cowboy, the innocent wonder of You, Me and Everyone We Know spring to mind.

Here are three pieces of music that you may or may not have heard, each of which has played an important part in both my everyday life, and my constructive daydreaming.

First, the exquisitely dark and sensual Milonga For Three by the immortal Argentine master of the tango, Astor Piazzola. I was fretting wildly about a wonderful play written by Samantha Swan that I was directing.  The play veered constantly from riotous glee, to playful sex, to violence and debauchery and depravity. I didn’t know which thread to hang on to. I started wandering the streets at all hours listening to piles of CD’s both familiar and unknown. Then this song started playing through my headphones and I stood paralyzed in an alleyway with my eyes closed until the final note. Suddenly I understood the primary tonal undertow of the play, and everything went smoothly from then on.

Suddenly I understood the primary tonal undertow of the play, and everything went smoothly from then on.

Next, a simple and circular piano piece composed and performed by Harold Budd, produced by Brian Eno and featuring his beautiful and subtle ambient treatments.
This piece has been with me since forever, and I can’t hear it without going into a trance accompanied by a shifting collage of childhood memories.
I often use this piece to induce calm, contemplative creativity, and it hasn’t let me down yet. You’re welcome.

Finally, a ballad performed by Miles Davis, It Never Entered My Mind. Passion, longing, vulnerability, drama. Miles can combine these elements better than anyone, with a power, concision, and control that is, well, genius. And I don’t fling that word around. I listen to Miles when I’m editing some aspect of my work,  because his playing inspires clarity of expression.

Each of these songs feels like it creates and inhabits its own world. I invite you to step into these three worlds and spend some time there.

Maybe bring something back to share with the rest of us.


Click to listen FOR FREE:
Astor Piazzola – Milonga  for Three (Reprise)

Harold Budd and Brian Eno – The Plateaux of Mirror – First Light

Miles Davis – It Never Entered My Mind


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