Friday, November 28, 2008

Update: Late November, 2008

Thank you so much to everyone that sent in birthday wishes yesterday, both through the blog and through email. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You all are the very best!

So it seems most appropriate that I return the kindness. How about an update, eh?

You’ll note I’m leaving the word “book” out above. This isn’t just a “book update.” Things are progressing on a number of fronts now. Believe me, we’re taking every imaginable advantage of the recent delay to create thing(s) like no one has before.

Take, for example, our long-established goal of providing “multimedia” material. That’s been one of the toughest nuts to crack, conceptually speaking. The rub? To maintain relevance within the confines of our overall approach, a documentary piece should be both procedural and analytical in nature. That’s great, but two risks arise: 1) We’d end up presenting material completely redundant to the book’s, thus negating the documentary’s reason to exist… or 2) If we specifically left material out of the book so that it would be unique to a documentary piece, we’d end up with a purposefully-incomplete book hardly fitting the comprehensive mold we’ve always envisioned.

We could always just plop ourselves in front of a camera and give you a 10 minute fireside chat, allowing audiences to put faces with the music and book, but that’s fluffy and insubstantial… and I can’t seen publishers being very happy about having to author and package a DVD that’s as useless as that.

So what happens? Should this “multimedia” idea be scrapped? No, not at all. We know that people respond to the personal side of things; we’ve seen it repeatedly in speaking engagements. And I think it’s important to show people that, look, all this music was created by a very real person.

We headed into last week knowing this—knowing that there was something of worth to be created, but unsure of what our angle should be.

A camera was set, we arranged a makeshift set, stashed away a few Altoids (talking heads are much closer in real life than they appear to be on camera!), and sat down to… just do some general work. It seemed the easiest way to find a piece was to let it find us. We had plenty of other work to tend to, so why not simply introduce the camera to the room. 

We started with a few book notes. As the text has moved from liners to full-fledged book, it’s become increasingly analytical. This means that there’s been more back-and-forth between Shore and me so that I can be certain I’m presenting his concepts as he imagined them. Example… I referred to recurring G-minor and E-minor chords as being a sixth apart. Howard actually thought of them as being a third apart. Same concept, different terminology, but it’s important to me that my language reflects his mind.

The book review only lasted a little while. We’d planned on managing the bulk of it the next day anyway. The Rarities were next on the docket. This was incredibly exciting for me. I’ve been rummaging through archives for nearly two years now, and though we’ve always discussed the findings, this was the first time we’d sit and listen through the music together.

And a funny thing happened here. In the process of reviewing this material I think we found our multimedia piece. Talking about the Rarities with Howard was incredibly interesting. Even though the conversation was ostensibly about a single topic, it proved a revealing way to touch on a number of subjects: the history of the project as a whole; Shore’s creative process, the collaboration with Peter, Fran and Philippa; alternate edits of the film; alternate musical concepts… we even found the very first mock-up Shore created for LOTR. Yes, the very first music he wrote for this project.

I suppose I should have known it would pan out this way. In order to discuss the unused music in the Rarities, we’d have to discuss the process at its deepest level. It’s the perfect device for these types of conversations.

And suddenly, everything clicked. By the next morning we were no longer just talking with a camera in the room, we were crafting a very specific piece. It would be something entirely different, something that, as far as I’m aware, no one has really tried before.

Now, don’t think I’ve gone senile in my newly advanced age! I’m not giving everything away here. Our plans for this video material are, as I say, anything but straightforward. I’m not yet ready reveal how exactly this will all be assembled. If current plans are realized, it’ll be very unique, very accessible, and (with a little luck) incredibly immersive.

The above also means we have some reconsidering to do. Obviously creating a piece around the Rarities is combining the Multimedia and Rarities concepts. This may mean that the book will not need a DVD component. (No fretting here… This doesn’t mean less material for you next year. We’re still talking all the same materials, simply bundled differently. In fact, this may mean you’ll ultimately see more content for less money!)

So within the next few weeks I should be getting my first glimpse of the footage from last week. We’re also very close to re-locking the book text with HS’ edits incorporated, and that needs to be in to the publishers very soon. Oh, and I also heard the very first ideas for the Master Box packaging, which should progress soon as well. Personally, I loved what I heard. It's a very sophisticated concept, much more than a cardboard sleeve!

In early 2009, I’ll return to NY to continue (and probably conclude) filming. Thank goodness the airlines didn’t lose my luggage since I now have to wear the same brown sweater every time we film so that it can be edited together. It began the morning of Nov 20 as a comfy pullover, and finished the day as a costume!

Oh, I almost forgot: We also discussed this past week how exactly to debut all this material next year… a long expected release party as it were. If current plans hold, I defy anyone to surpass what we’ve got in the works!

…That reminds me, I have a press release to assemble.

See you soon,

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