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Clear Music Sets the Record Straight

Clear Music Sets the Record Straight

by Amanda N. Nanawa

Barry Cole, the former President (and current Vice President) of Shooting Gallery Records (SGR), has created Clear Music — an independent music supervision and clearance company that has worked on soundtracks for “Sling Blade,” “Casanova Falling,” “Frogs For Snakes,” “Illtown,” and “Next Stop Wonderland.” Even though its roster is laden with Shooting Gallery films (and they share the same office building), Clear Music wants other production companies to know that this arrangement is non-exclusive.

The Shooting Gallery (TSG) is a production company that has contracted Clear Music to do music supervision on all their films,” says Cole. “We simultaneously go out to other production companies and ask them to do the same…We don’t want them to think that if they hire us, they’re hiring The Shooting Gallery. If they hire us, they’re hiring Clear Music. When we supervise films for The Shooting Gallery, they’re (TSG) hiring Clear Music as well.”

To add to the complex relationship between The Shooting Gallery and Clear Music, on October of 1996, The Hollywood Reporter stated that TSG had signed a three-album deal with Island Records to manufacture and distribute their soundtracks. It leads to the following question: Does Clear Music also have a deal with Island Records? Cole answers in the negative, “The Shooting Gallery, as a production company, had a deal with Island Records for their own pictures”. Clear Music does not want incoming producers and directors to feel that music must be released under one particular label; film projects which are non-TSG produced are not subject to exclusive TSG deals. Clear Music helps filmmakers find the right label for their film’s soundtrack.

There seems to be confusion over what exactly Shooting Gallery Records is in relation to Clear Music. The answer: Shooting Gallery Records is TSG’s in-house record label and Clear Music is a music supervision service which can look to Shooting Gallery Records for distribution. The company’s business aspect is handled by Gwen Bethel, Vice President of Business Affairs, who is an attorney with a music background. Cole stresses that through hiring Clear Music, you get Business with Bethel and Creative with Cole — all in one package.

Clear Music’s soundtrack roster is as intriguing as the films they support. “Chinese Coffee“, starring and directed by Al Pacino, has a collection of source music which includes Romanian folk, traditional Middle Eastern, and Mexican Mariachi with an original score by Howard Shore. Another soundtrack that carries an eclectic collection of music is “Frogs For Snakes,” directed by Amos Poe and starring Barbara Hershey and Robbie Coltrane. Musicians on the soundtrack include Barry Adamson, Patty Smith, Tipsy, Poe, Dinah Washington and original score by New York underground band Lazy Boy. The soundtrack will be modeled after Francis Ford Coppola’s film “Apocalypse Now” with full sound design and dialogue.

“That’s the interesting thing,” comments Cole, “when we start to talk about the best music for the film versus the best music to make a cohesive soundtrack project. Amos Poe is probably one of the most artistic directors that I’ve ever worked with and I didn’t realize that until I watched his previous work.”

Another lesson first-time filmmakers learn is that they can’t have everything. Clear Music’s staff works with the filmmaker from pre-production throughout post-production and acts as a liaison between the filmmaker and musician. The company’s primary interest is to help directors and producers conceptualize and license the best music for their films, while aiding in distribution.

Cole continues, “Basically, many of the major labels that we license music from have a bottom line. That bottom line means that you’re not going to get a song for less than this. So, if that amount is somewhere in the $5,000 range and you’ve got 12 songs to put into your half million dollar film, you’re already looking at a $60,000 cost and that’s just talking about master recordings and you have to double everything for publishing.

“Usually independent labels and publishers seem to be a lot more willing to work in conjunction with whatever the scope of the budget is, realizing that exposure for the band of the copyright is the important issue, rather than making as much money as the top paid artist.”

Clear Music also has an associate in London who offers the same advice and services but isn’t exactly a major factor in the New York-based films TSG produces.

“We do entertain submissions from publishers and composers from overseas but because we work with a lot of first-time directors, they mostly turn to people here in New York with whom they can actually sit down and collaborate. In terms of Clear Music projects, (the London associate has) come into play in a number of different ways, and not only by finding new artists but also because there is a growing film industry in Europe and Asia.”

Cole concludes, “From what my understanding a couple years ago was, it was the composers on the films that were hiring music supervisors in the United Kingdom. Our associate, who has spent some time out there, has been basically pitching Clear Music’s services and the response is, “Why isn’t there anyone else like you out here?”

SGR have just established a new deal with V2 Records to distribute Shooting Gallery soundtracks, the first being Bob Gosse’s “Niagara, Niagara” starring Robin Tunney and Henry Thomas. Musicians such as Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Lori Carson and Martin Sexton are featured, with an original score by Michael Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies.

Clear Music also has a number of anticipated projects in the works, including Trimark Pictures’ upcoming Michael Almereyda film, “The Mummy,” starring Christopher Walken as an man who digs up 1,000 year old Druid bodies from the bog marshes of Ireland and manages to bring one back to life. It’s the director’s feature follow-up to 1994’s vampire pic, “Nadja.” Among the films Clear Music is currently working on are Nancy Savoca’s “24 Hour Woman” starring Rosie Perez and “Strange Land” starring and written by Dee Snider of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, both of which were produced by TSG and will be released by TSG Productions. Although the bulk of Clear Music’s work is still with TSG, the budding company hopes to expand their clientele to other film projects.

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