Sometimes, the kindness of a stranger comes from the most unexpected places.
As some of you may know, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to meet one of the greatest film scorers of all time, John Williams. The man is the most Oscar-nominated person alive, and deservedly so. Williams entered the scene when orchestral film scoring was becoming a "thing of the past" and the industry was moving towards a more synthetic and electric sound. Thankfully, Mr. Williams recognized the timeless charm and undying potential of the orchestral film score and managed to turn the tide with one of his most memorable scores to date: Jaws. The terrifyingly simple 3-note motif has sparked a generation of beachgoers second-guessing their decision to enter the ocean. That...is the brilliance of John Williams.
He is a man that knows and understands the ultimate purpose of movie music:
To assist the storyteller and enhance the emotion that is being portrayed on screen.
Music should never distract from or impeded on the story. If it does, the composer has, in essence, failed. Williams understands this and has found the perfect balance of being memorable, yet not overbearing. That, my friends, is a fine line that many composers spend a lifetime trying to find.
So, why do I hope to meet this man someday? To tell him how great he is? No. Plenty of people have already done that. To ask him for his autograph? No, but if he offers, I surely won't refuse. :)
I want to meet him so I can thank him.
He's the man who inspired me to become a composer and a film scorer.
As a small town boy from a river town in Iowa, my chances of a career in film scoring were (as you might imagine) slim to none. But my stubborn nature (my parents affectionately refer to me as their "strong-willed child") refused to let those slim chances to dampen my hopes and deter my pursuits.
After years of collecting and listening to Williams' scores, I finally had the opportunity to see him live in concert with Yo-Yo Ma. Simply put? I was floored. Overwhelmed. Moved. It was that night in 2008 that I knew I was going to become a composer.
Fast forward to today (after much prayer and a great education), I am now a composer and film scorer who has had the privilege of writing scores for people who have worked for Disney, Marvel, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., etc. Nothing one would consider a "major motion picture" (yet), but I'm so thrilled to be doing what I love.
Ok, so I know you're all thinking, "GET TO THE GOOD STUFF! WHERE DOES THE STAR WARS PRODUCER COME IN!?"
I'll gladly tell you.
Last year, for John Williams' 85th birthday, my brother and I produced a special video. A short film that not only highlighted his influence on the history of film music, but also the personal influence he's had on my own musical pursuits. I also composed a tribute piece to Williams' work on all of the Star Wars films to date. (I'll put links to both of those videos at the bottom of this post)
When I released the video on his birthday, I did everything I could to get it in the hands (well, eyes) of Williams himself. Naturally, such an endeavor is no easy task. I asked everyone I knew to share it in the hopes that someone who knew him might see it and share it with him.
Can you tell I'm a bit of a dreamer? :)
Although I received a lot of positive feedback from many, my aspirations of getting it to Mr. Williams went unrealized. "Oh, well..." I thought to myself. "There's always next year."
And sure enough...the next year was much more hopeful.
On December 30th of last year, I sent the video to Ram Bergman, producer of the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi. Suffice to say, I didn't really expect a response. I had sent the video to literally hundreds of major players in the industry with little to no response.
But imagine my surprise when I saw this response from Mr. Bergman waiting for me in my inbox about a week later in early 2017.
i sent it to his (John Williams') people. very nice piece. wishing you all the best."
Short and simple, yet extremely encouraging. Not only did he watch/listen to my work himself, but he bothered to pass it along to John Williams' "people" (whoever they may be)! Did he have to respond? No, not at all. He could've ignored it and gone on with his day, as many others rightfully had and would have done. But he took the time to read an email from somebody he didn't even know, noting the sincerity of my request. Needless to say, I was humbled and completely shocked.
Did the correspondence end there? No. Not quite.
After a short reply from me, thanking him for his kindness, he emailed me yet again to provide me with some tips regarding how to "get my foot in the door" in the film scoring industry. Again, I thanked him for his help and for going "above and beyond the call of duty" by corresponding with me.
It just goes to show you, you never know when someone unexpected will lend a helping hand to a complete stranger.
I still don't know if John Williams himself saw the video (I'll probably never know), but thanks to Ram, the video got as close as I've ever been able to get it to him in the past.
So Ram, if you're reading this...thank you. You da man.
And for everyone else reading this...thanks for reading this. :)
Below, you can view the two videos that were sent over to John Williams' people by Ram.
If you have time to watch them, I'd love to hear what you think!
In closing, I do have one favor to ask of you: Would you please share this? I can't really afford a publicity agent at the moment, so your help in spreading the word a bit would mean more than you know. And who knows? Maybe Disney will somehow see it and they'll help my dream to meet John Williams come true! :)