On April 17, Pat McMakin, director of studio operations at Belmont’s Ocean Way Studios, opened the facility’s doors to a wide variety of musicians, engineers, composers and film directors, all with the task of recording the scores of four independent short films produced and crafted from local film departments at Watkins and Vanderbilt University. The event, the Student Scoring Initiative, brought together students, engineers, directors, musicians and composers at Ocean Way.
Scott Hallgren, a local multiple award-winning composer and producer as well as a professor at Tennessee State University and the Nashville Film Institute, was the organizer of the initiative. With the support of the Nashville Composer Association, Hallgren assembled a predominantly Belmont student orchestra to play the scores that Belmont students composed.
The Nashville Composers Association sent a newsletter to all student and amateur composer members inviting them to apply for the opportunity to compose scores for the four short films. Of the 29 applicants, four were chosen, including Belmont students Melanie Parobek and Christopher Gentle.
Hallgren recruited Grammy-nominated composer Carl Marsh to conduct the student orchestra and gathered four professional musicians to serve as mentors to the students and assist them with the techniques required in a professional recording process.
Belmont student violinist Danika Lukasiewicz said, “This opportunity has taught us invaluable recording techniques in a professional environment and has given us the chance to network with professional musicians.”
In the engineering room, McMakin led four Belmont student engineers through the tediously difficult process of recording a full orchestra. Hallgren said the most difficult part was syncing up the orchestra’s tempo with the actual content and movement of the film. In the studio, the film directors sat in the control room and viewed their films while listening to the orchestra play, making sure every note and measure aligned with their envisioned result. The entire process was truly reliant on collaboration.
Not only did Hallgren intend for students and professionals to collaborate in the studio, he aims to advance the practice of film scoring in Nashville. By providing a location and network where musicians, directors and composers can join forces, film scoring is brought out of the home studios into a multifaceted, collaborative environment. In conjunction with Belmont’s blossoming film minor, the Student Scoring Initiative could provide yet additional opportunities for students to participate in the entertainment industry.