Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Hello fans and friends. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had occasion to write one of these. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve not been busy- just that I haven’t had enough to justify a post per se. As you’ll soon learn, there is a lot to discuss.

First, on a more personal note, a bit of an update on things going on in my life (part of the reason for my delay in updates). As many of you know, I was hospitalized back in September for pneumonia. The prelude to how that happened- as well as my story- is chronicled in a recent blog I posted on MySpace. I was in the hospital for three weeks, and was on medical leave from my full-time job for eight weeks after. The time off was nice- giving me an opportunity to get several things done creatively and critically- but also a bit isolating too at times. I’m back to work full-time now, and it’s been great to get back into the swing of things there (although the first week was a bit rough), even if it’s limited my opportunities for moviegoing and creative work.

My movie reviewing has been full-steam this year, and it’s been invigorating to work on. So many movies have fueled my geekiness and provided me great opportunities to not just look closely at the films but myself and why they appeal to me. I reviewed a lot of older films for the first time (including “Fantasia”, “Schindler’s List”, “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas”, and “The Last Temptation of Christ”, all of which allowed for some of my best writing I think), as well as the new movies I’ve looked at. And in the past year I’ve been approached by filmmakers to review their respective films (“Royal Faceoff”, “the 4th dimension”, and “imagination”), all of which I finally found time to review while on leave, and all of which were rewarding viewing in their own ways. It’s been a very rewarding year in movies, even though my hospitalization has had me playing catchup the remainder of the year.

My movie reviews aren’t the only things I’ve been writing this year. Inspired, in a way, by an inquery a friend of mine made online, the inspiration to write short stories took hold. I’d already had one started about the friendship I’ve shared over the years with my friend Dawn entitled “Unlikely Friends” that we hope to one day find the time to collaborate on (among other ambitious projects we hope to work on together beyond our past musical collaborations), as well as the two short films I’ve written (more on those later), but that inquery led to me writing a most unusual blog/short story entitled “Requiem for a Lemur: A Short Story of the Grand Lemur” that had its’ readers going “What the Hell?” but on the whole enjoying it as I recounted the origin story of my eyebrow-raising nickname from work. On a more personal note, recent emotional issues inspired “The Things He Feels, But Cannot Say”, the story of a man whose crush on a friend/coworker leads him to a lowpoint emotionally he finds it difficult to pull out of.

Emotional difficulties and odd nicknames weren’t my only inspirations for artistic expression of this nature this year, however. Recent discussions of a more, shall we say, risqué nature, as well as my frequent thoughts on the topic 😉 , led to me not only publishing a story written six years ago about a weekend of passion that takes a somewhat unsettling turn for the couple (“A Sunny Retreat”), but also inspired me to write a series of three short stories recounting an illicit affair between friends that starts off playfully, only to have more serious consequences for their friendship down the line (“Stimulating Samantha,” “Chapter 2: Correspondences,” and “Chapter 3: Action and Consequences”). It’s admittedly been a fun series to write as a way of enriching my fantasies and expanding my abilities as a storyteller, although some of the inspirations led to some real-life friction, though nothing that couldn’t be worked through in the end. It’s funny the ways life inspires art, and unfortunate in some of the ways it imitates it. Hopefully this form of storytelling will continue for me over the years and expand my abilities in not just the printed word but other forms of self-expression as well.

My work as a composer this year has been somewhat stagnant (of my many yet-to-be recorded pieces, only “Weightless Waltz in D” saw the light of day online), but there has been much to rejoice in on my part. It was another slow year for me artistically (my short film project leading to my only real composing this year; more on that later), but it was an exciting year in terms of getting my music out there for people. Early on in the year I commissioned a friend of mine from high school, with quite an eye of artistic design, to create cover art for my long-in-production third CD “Sonic Visions of a New Old West”, allowing me to make it available- for the first time- for sale online via CDBaby. My desire to finally release “Sonic Visions” also led to me having professionally printed CDs made of my first three CDs- “Creative Beginnings”, “Dark Experiments”, and “Sonic Visions”- which was also inspired by the first live performance of one of my compositions in six years at “Turned On: Electronic Music By Atlanta Composers”, a concert put together by local artists Darren Nelsen and Adam Scott Neal as a way of getting the word out on new music in Atlanta. My piece “In a Lonely Place” was performed at the concert, which was a modest success (and got a positive review in the Atlanta Journal Constitution), and has led to the formation of the Atlanta Composers Group, which holds monthly meetings to discuss plans for future concerts as well as different ways in which to create exposure for the new music being created by Atlanta artists. The Group’s second concert- the first of three showcases for the same electronic music program- is slated for Monday, January 28 at the Eyedrum. Entitled “Unseen Forces”, the free concert not only hopes to build on the success of the first concert but build momentum for future concerts and events- a CD with information on the artists, as well as music from both this and the “Turned On” program- will be given away to people in attendance. “Unseen Forces” will include many of the same artists from the first show, including my own composition “Synthphonic Poignancy”. I hope we’ll be able to have the same kind of success with this show we did the last one.

“Unwinnable Hand” Trailer #1

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Most exciting, personally, was the film work I’ve been able to do this year. Limited by not only our inability to get shooting days worked out (we only actually filmed one day this year), and the premium I’ve had for much of the year when it came to hard drive space on my computer, I was unable to get my short film “Unwinnable Hand: A Thriller in Two Movements” completed by December like I’d hoped. That said, work was done on the film nonetheless. In February I not only completed a rough cut of the first movement of the film, but also setup a MySpace page for Cinema Nouveau Productions, the production company I’m making “Unwinnable Hand” under, so that I could give updates on the film’s progress as well as release promotional videos such as the film’s first trailer (see above), my entertainingly quirky production diary, filmed after the first day of shooting (see below), as well as a massive blooper reel feature all kinds of craziness and blown lines with myself and my cohorts (see below). In December, I also began the process of writing music for the first movement with the hope of being able to put the first movement of the film online by the end of January. Among other items to look out for in 2008 from Cinema Nouveau include deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, more blogs on our process, as well as (hopefully) “Red Cup Mafia”, a comic vignette I wrote back in November of ’06 inspired by happenings at my full-time job at the theatre. The script for “Mafia” can be read at the link above, as well as on the Cinema Nouveau MySpace page.

“Unwinnable Hand” Blooper Reel 1

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Well, there’s not much else left to say about 2007 in the world of art for me. It’s been an interesting year with some unexpected inspirations to go with the continuing backlog of projects I’m accumulating. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some of that backlog taken care of throughout the year, and of course, you’ll find out about it as it happens. More to come in the New Year. Thanks for listening,

“Unwinnable Hand” Video Diary 1- 2/25/06

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Brian Skutle

Categories: News, News - Music

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