So, things have been crazy, as you know. And we have disappeared from the website for months, so sorry about that! We’ve been a bit overwhelmed. Lots of exciting things have been going on over here!
First of all, Splendid is looking sooo good!! We spent nearly two months on the hard fixing all sorts of things, with the help of our friend Carlos we sanded the bottom completely, fixed cosmetic blisters, painted the whole thing with epoxy and applied 5 gallons of bottom paint, we painted the hull and the toe rail, Alex did a lot of engine work with the help of a mechanic, painted the whole engine room, we also emptied and painted every cabinet and lazarette, I finished restoring the companion way, forward head and V-berth. All I have left is the main saloon area where the settee is, we have to varnish the floors and re-paint the cockpit and non-skid outside. I might make a brand new bimini too. We’d like to have a black one. Let me show you some pics, my camera died recently so I’ve been taking pictures with my crappy phone, sorry about that but you can get an idea:
Second, we have some new features on ProjectBluesphere as well! Alex has wanted the website to become a platform for you guys to be able to communicate with each other and share your own experiences, photos and ideas. Now finally we have software that might just allow us to do that so he’s been trying to set it up. When you log in to the page you should be able to get to your profile, choose a profile and cover photo (something a bit like Facebook) and start adding friends and comments. We also started a “forum” section where we can all discuss and share particular ideas beyond what we talk about in our blogs. I have to say I also love the idea of all of us being able to share things more privately, I know it can be a bit awkward or strange for you guys to comment publicly after the blogs, especially because Alex and I can be so intense sometimes.
I don’t really know how it all works yet, but let’s start trying! When you log in, update your profile. And then click on one of us and add us as a friend. That way you will automatically become one of the “active” members on the right side of the page. See if you can access the groups and forums we’re creating, even if you don’t want to share anything yet. Let’s have some fun, and see the new possibilities this creates!
Most of all we have been working on the movie, hard, everyday. It’s such an amazing project, but we are only a tiny crew of three at the moment: Joe is funding and starring; Alex is the writer, producer, director and main actor; and I am in charge of script revision, sound, music, some camera work, costumes and make up. The boys have worked in Hollywood for years, so they know what they’re doing, but for me, it’s all new. Actually it’s also new in many ways for them, because things have changed so much in the past decade with the arrival of the digital era, all the new gear, drones, etc. Alex has been researching for months (literally) now to choose the best equipment. There are pros and cons in every choice you make, so it requires a lot of reading and understanding features, set ups and software.
It’s exhilarating but a huge learning curve. Making and choosing music for me is fun and comes really easy, it’s something I feel I was born to do. I’m not a great musician by any standards but a very avid listener and kind of a specialist when it comes to movie soundtracks. I have always loved the dramatic effect music has on image and how powerful a tool it can be when used correctly. So that is the easy part. As soon as I started showing material to Alex I understood what he wanted and started searching in my hard drive for things he might be interested in. Also I immediately contacted musicians from Argentina who I thought might want to take part in the project.
Using published music can be a huge headache so indie, unsigned musicians is always a great choice. It’s easier for us, the movie can be a platform for them to be known outside their circles and the audience gets to listen to cool tunes they wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. I got to learn about many of my favorite musicians through movie soundtracks.
These Argentine musicians are good friends and so I knew right from the start that there wouldn’t be much trouble coming to agreements and drawing contracts with them directly: I want to offer them the best deal we can and I know they do too. We’ll figure it out as we go. But for the few published songs I’d like to use there’s a whole different ball game, and I’ve been doing lots of research because copyright is not simple when it comes to music, and contracts come with lots of variants, some of them quite tricky. When dealing with major labels and publishers, being an indie production, one has to know how to approach them, they know there won’t be much money changing hands, and so they might not even care to respond, many things can go wrong, and then you lose the chance to use the songs you want.
Just in case you’re interested, here’s what I have been learning about this. Acquiring copyrighted music has become very complex because it can now have many owners, all of whom need to give you permission to use it. In the past, it was nearly impossible for musicians to produce their own albums, making physical records was a very expensive process. Now, with the digital era, it’s quite easy to have a studio at home, and to later sell your own music online, through iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Big corporations do not own musicians’ rights like they used to, now when a musician approaches a label for promotion or distribution, they have more leverage when it comes to who owns the music and who retains royalties. For filmmakers, who used to only deal with the label before, now things are not so simple.
To use a song in a movie one must get a “synchronization license” (permission from the composer, writer, performers to use that musical piece synchronized with particular images). Since the label
does not control this aspect anymore, now the music producer of a movie might have to get clearance from two, five or ten artists, who might have chosen to be represented by publishers as well. This permission only means you can use that music and those lyrics to make your own version of it. If you want to use that song as performed by a particular artist, then you must also get a “master use license” (permission from the record company or person who produced it to use that particular recording of the song). If you want to have a soundtrack album then you also need to get a “mechanical license” later.
So, you have to track down many people, and agree on a few things with them: how you are going to use that track, for how long, where, how many years you’ll be allowed to use it, in which context, for what type of exposure -film festivals only, movie theaters, TV, internet, DVDs, etc-, and how much that’s going to cost you depending on how you’re planning to pay -a one time buyout, a step deal in which you pay increasingly as your movie gets more popular, what happens with royalties for the artists involved, etc-. You must be very careful when drawing up or signing a contract, to protect your project and to protect the artists at the same time. You want to be fair, which is not always the corporations’ main interest, as you can imagine. So this is one of the main things I’ve been learning about while I keep looking for cool tunes that might give the movie the impact we want.
I’ve also found out that music ceases to have copyright when the authors have been dead for over 70 years. There are huge archives of “Public Domain” music, which includes lots of folk songs and classical pieces. If we were to record a new version of any of this songs, we wouldn’t have to get permission or pay anyone, other than the musicians we hire to arrange or perform the song. Cool, huh? So now I’m also starting to look at lots of music in these libraries to see if I find stuff that we may want to re-arrange and record.
Another thing I have to learn about is drones and cameras. Since Alex, Joe (and Nacho) will be acting all the time, I will have to help out with camera work, which I know nothing about. Also I might be in charge of color-correcting in post production, because it’s something I am interested in and for which Alex does not have much patience, or time! He’ll be doing a million other things.
Joe has been really great too, every time he reads the script he comes up with a new brilliant detail that really makes the movie a lot better.
Love from Panama, I’ve missed you guys!!