Mittwoch, 19. Februar 2014

Day 39-40: Last Night

That moment in a movie, right towards the end ... where the plot takes a turn, that makes no sense whatsoever... and then suddenly the credits start rolling and you're left to wonder ... "What was that?"

The end of a trip should have a clear emotion right? Either you are really looking forward to getting back home soon again, or you're really sad about leaving. But I'm just sitting here, thinking ..."?" There's no brilliant lesson, there's no thought that sticks out, there's no idea behind all of this. There's just a motel room and a bunch of annoying emails. And my passport. And my ticket.

FYI: I started to see really pissed off emails in a different light now. It's like the person on the other end is communicating: "Don't stay in contact with me, I will screw you over, and treat you like shit." When you see it this way it's almost a friendly warning. How nice of this person to let me know that I should keep my distance and stay far, far, far away.

Big shadows underneath my eyes, because I couldn't sleep again. Weird taste in my mouth from the salad dressing of the food I ordered in ... and just a minute ago two kids were playing and screaming outside of my room, but now there's silence. While the air conditioning drowns everything in a white noise, I try to stay awake so that I can Skype with my family before I take off. They're still asleep, because it's 6:00 am in Germany.

I wish I could come back with a trophy of some sort, a physical sign that shows: "Yea, this guy has been there and done all that. Look he's got this shiny, golden, thing to prove it!" ... maybe I should dismantle the weird doorknob in the bathroom... I've been suspecting a hidden camera inside of it anyway (Why is there a hole in front of it??? It makes no sense!) After all it looks a little shiny and it's an awesome trophy... but then again it would probably cause me trouble at the airport. And the motel owner would bitch about it too.

Maybe I'll sleep in the plane.


Montag, 17. Februar 2014

Day 37-38: @.@

So these last two days I was at the balcony TV anniversary party, met with a composer, another director and spent 12 hours on a film set in Chatsworth. It's too much to comprehend, too much to write about it. I talked to so many people and had so many great conversations... so I spent my Monday in bed and the only thing I did today was order food. But here's what I have learned from everyone I've talked to these last couple of days:

- The music industry is like the early Wild West. Everything goes and you're completely on your own.
- If you ever make money, invest it. Resist the urge to buy a car, rent a mansion and go out to dinner every night of the week. It doesn't matter how much you make, one day it's gone, and the way down is less fun than the way up.
- The only thing that matters is that you stick with your passion, independently from all other circumstances.
- Happiness is independent from money, status, age or girlfriend. The mindset matters: If you strive for more, you will always want more. If you are generally satisfied, you will in general be satisfied.
- The quality of your work will only rise over time if you challenge yourself repeatedly. Leave your comfort zone, face your fears.

- Always be honest, always be straight with people. Support the positive in them, accept the negative.
- Have the courage to fail. This is a cliche and widely misunderstood. It means: "I know that I am human, that I will die and that I will either lose my health or my mind and I'm ready to deal with that, without lying, cheating, bitching or crying around."
- Mistrust confidence, trust in actions. Observe everyone around you closely. Details matter.


Donnerstag, 13. Februar 2014

Day 35-36: Void

I spend hours of my day approving songs, that have been inspired by (read stolen from) famous composers and songwriters throughout the world. It is an entire branch of the industry and it makes me feel very sick inside. I used to do it myself... I sometimes still need to do it, because the briefing for a scene demands me to stay as close to the reference track as possible. Composers upload collections of tracks to the database ... each track is built on a famous reference track of its genre ... be it Katy Perry, Zack Hemsey, Hans Zimmer, Kanye West... they calculate that these tracks are used very often as a reference track and therefore believe that rebuilding these tracks gives them a greater shot at a placement.

So where's the flaw in that logic? Is it ethically wrong? Is it morally wrong? Is there an entity in this world that demands originality from a musician? And by the way I'm not talking about being influenced or inspired by a style, I'm talking about downright stealing string and guitar riffs, including song structure, while changing juuuuust enough so that the lawyers stay away. I almost rejected a song today, because it was basically a copy and then decided to instead file it under "cover".

There's something fundamentally wrong with this and I can't really put my finger on it. It's almost as if our society built a musical Sodom and Gomorrah, where everything is OK, as long as it doesn't "suck". Something breaks my heart and I don't even know what it is. I wouldn't call it disillusioned, because I knew about this aspect of the industry beforehand. I'm not even surprised, I'm just ... empty. What a strange day.


Mittwoch, 12. Februar 2014

Day 33-34: LA Nights

It's funny how my mind sometimes decides when it's time to sleep. Apparently I have no say in this whatsoever. He wants me to sleep from 4:00 am until 13:00 pm, but unfortunately that causes a conflict with my working hours. Ever since last weekend (the weekend I slept for hours during the daytime) my day/night rhythm is completely off ... and it's starting to scare the crap out of me, because the work keeps piling up and I still have two weeks of work ahead of me.

So I'm just lying there, looking at the ceiling, listening to the air conditioning. And the hundreds of songs I heard keep ringing in my ears... it's not the first time though. One of the reasons I wanted to be a composer was the fact, that I could choose and switch my working hours based on a whim. No boundaries, no rules, no schedule, just a to-do list and lots of time.

We had a pitch with an 80.000$ budget today and that pitch killed me, because if I had brought my equipment, I could have easily worked on it and sent them a perfect track. Instead I was browsing the database for another lucky composer. When I went home I got Thai food from my favorite place again... I always tip the delivery guy 20%, but they keep messing up my order, sending it out too late or overcharging me. If the food wasn't so damn good, I could just go out and look for another place... but I tried seven different ethnic food restaurants in the area and these guys are the best...

I keep watching a lot of interviews at night ... Conan O Brien, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Cranston... these are all people I admire and they all had to work for decades to get where they are. But I sometimes wonder if it really makes a difference. I guess I just want to make a living out of it, so that none of this matters. Fall asleep at 4:30? Doesn't matter. Chose to skip a day of work? Doesn't matter. Chose to work 14 hours straight? Doesn't matter.

It is now 12:35 am. And I am wide awake. More awake than I was today at noon. A lot more awake. Beautiful.


Sonntag, 9. Februar 2014

Day 32: Sunday

I woke up back home. I could barely get out of bed, but after a couple of minutes I managed to gather my energy and so I went downstairs to have breakfast with my family. They were all smiling at me, but nobody said a single word. Something felt strange and so I tried to remember... what happened the day before? I had been in Los Angeles on a video release party for Maggie Szabo. They dropped me off at the motel and I fell asleep watching old House MD episodes ... so how did I get here?

Suddenly I was back in my motel room, staring at the grey ceiling. The white noise of the air conditioning drowned out most of my thoughts and I was grateful for that. 10:00 am ... "I should get out of bed and answer my emails" ... but as soon as I had finished the thought, a blanket of warm water surrounded me and I fell back into a white mist.

We were in a forest. The clean, cool air felt so amazing that I couldn't get enough of it. I heard the sound of a waterfall, or river nearby and since the lighting technicians had to prepare for the next scene anyway, it seemed like the right time to take a break and go for a swim. First I passed the truck of the set-designer, then the director's car in the parking lot. The closer I was to the water, the more comfortable it felt ... the atmosphere was very peaceful and it reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It felt so good and I became so tired, but I couldn't just lay down in the dirt. "What would the crew think? No, once I get close enough, I can wash my face. That will wake me up for sure." But I couldn't even stand upright and soon my muscles gave in and I just stared at the grey sky.

Back in my motel room ... 13:00 pm.

"Get up, just get up!" But I was too tired, too exhausted. Minutes turned to hours and nothing changed. Until I heard the noise of blow-dryers... hundreds of blow-dryers... and I was at a water park with my family.



Day 31: Maggie Szabo's Video Release Party

I was sitting very close to the sound engineer in the background of the club. I guess I was enjoying the dark, underground club atmosphere on some level, even though I'm not generally a fan of it. I had been invited to Maggie Szabo's video release party in the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood and when they started screening her video, I slowly made my way through the crowd. Fifteen " Excuse me" later, I caught a good spot near the bar, where I could look at the audience, as they were watching Maggie's video.

I had seen her video many times before, so it gave me a chance to focus my attention on their faces: 75% of the crowd loved her video, 10% were oblivious and kept staring at their i-phone, 5% frowned, hating it, another 10% had a completely neutral expression, and one person kept staring back at me. The ones that loved her video, were enjoying it in completely different ways: Some nodded along with the music, others just had a satisfying smile on their face. Some of the girls even looked a little jealous, but in a positive well-wishing way. They were all completely different human beings of varying ages, with different hobbies, different jobs...

After the concert I went outside and took a stroll around the corner to Hollywood Boulevard.

"Nice coat. You from New York City? You have that look."

I turned around to see where the voice was coming from: A middle-aged black woman stood in front of a parking meter, looking in her purse for coins. She smiled at me.

"Never mind me", she said. "I'm crazy. Just like this city and everyone in it."

I smiled back at her and said: "I'm crazy too. I'm from Germany ... but God... I miss New York City. I was there last year. It was amazing"

 "I know what you mean, boy" , she said. "It's like a different planet around here... but I guess we should be grateful just for being, wherever we are. Take care, kid."

"You too", I said. I was mesmerized.


Freitag, 7. Februar 2014

Day 30: The New Motel & The Feature

I woke up this morning and went to the bathroom, caught the cockroach on the floor in a glass and set it free outside. Then it was packing time ... Since the motel only had free rooms until February 7th, I had to move to the Nite Inn in Universal City. I took my backpack, both laptops (the broken one as well, I'm still hoping I can get it fixed in Germany) and went on my way to work. I took a detour to the deli around the corner and bought a bottle of milk and a muffin for breakfast. Afterwards I passed the huge houses in Studio City again. I must have looked incredibly weird, because several people stopped and kept staring at me.

After I had lugged all my stuff to Julius' I went straight to the approvals and that's what I did for the next 2 hours. Then I answered all the emails from the members and checked out the stuff they had sent in... 174 emails and another 75 song approvals later I was done. Literally. Completely.

And right at this moment I got a call from the boss. He told me about a low budget feature he was working on and apparently he loved my work so far. Now it looks like I may get hired as a composer for my first feature, which kind of puts me in a celebrating mood.

Yeeeha! Hard work pays off!