"Case Study: Dorothy of Oz" panel (from left): Vicki Hiatt, Music Supervisor, "Dorothy of Oz;" Bonnie Radford, Producer, "Dorothy of Oz;" Dan St. Pierre, Director, "Dorothy of Oz;" Deborah Lurie, Composer, "Dorothy of Oz;" moderator Phil Gallo, senior correspondent, Billboard (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Get ready for a brand new animated Dorothy who "cuts like a knife."
Well, she isn't violent or anything. But she's armed with some veteran pop firepower.
Preceding panels on emerging platforms and building business relationships, attendees at the Billboard / Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference at Hollywood's Renaissance Hotel were treated Tuesday to a handful of scenes from the forthcoming "Dorothy of Oz," an animated musical featuring original music from Bryan Adams. The "Case Study: Dorothy of Oz" panel featured the film's director, composer, music supervisor and lead producer, who described a reverent indie feature that's simultaneously striving to offer a fresh take familiar characters.
Based on the book by Roger Stanton Baum, whose grandfather wrote the original source material, "Dorothy" begins the day after the events in "The Wizard of Oz" and features the vocal talent of "Glee"'s Lea Michele in the title role, alongside Martin Short, Hugh Dancy, Kelsey Grammer, Patrick Stewart, Dan Akroyd, Oliver Platt and James Belushi. Longtime Disney artist Dan St. Piere is directing.
"What a daunting task! I called my mom and asked, 'How was it when you first saw this movie?'" said music supervisor Vicki Hiatt. "She was like, 'Oh my God, you remembered every song when you first walked out.' That's been one of our goals - that you will see the movie and definitely be humming the songs afterwards."
The clips included Dorothy with Toto and some farm animals, the introduction of a new character named China Princess (voiced by actress and powerhouse singer Megan Hilty) and a romantic scene that follows the "big villain song" sung by Martin Short and the Adams-penned "Work with Me," featuring several characters.
"We're in year four" on the movie, Hiatt noted. "It's a labor of love. You have to like the process, because that's what you're doing most of the time: the process."
The 2012 and Beyond: What the Near Future Holds" panel (from left) Moderator, Bill Werde, Editorial Director, Billboard; PJ Bloom, Music Supervisor; Jumee Park, Director, Film/TV, Downtown Music Services; Amos Newman, Agent, WME Entertainment; Chris Woods, COO/EVP, TuneSat; Peter Cohen, Talent Producer, The Voice - Mark Burnett Productions; and Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music and Marketing, Electronic Arts: (Photo: Arnold Turner)
A love of the process is also crucial for the participants on the "2012 and Beyond: What the Near Future Holds" panel that followed. The assembled experts from music supervision, management, studios and NBC's "The Voice" engaged in a lively discussion about the ever-changing media landscape and the perils of monetization.
"It's a great time for anybody in a creative business whatsoever," noted music supervisor PJ Bloom, who has worked on "Glee" and "American Horror Story." "There are so many outlets for content [and] all of this content needs music."
Publishing expert Jumee Park agreed. "If you do your research [and] find the right people to help work with you and navigate the world with you, it's an exciting time."
As for making a profit from the newer platforms, that's still being figured out. "It really still is the Wild West," Bloom said. "A lot of copyright owners on the web still don't know enough about how to monetize. It is a great space for exposure and for some of the more exciting content. But the big question [remains]: 'How do you make money?'"
The panelists' vision for the future also included talk about the continued relevance of social media, the emergence of dubstep, and the prevalence of dance music. Peter Cohen, Talent Producer for "The Voice," lamented the lack of rock in the current landscape: "Big sellers? It's really about urban, dance and pop."
But Billboard's Editorial Director, Bill Werde, predicted that the low percentage of rock on the charts points to an inevitable pendulum swing: "I guarantee you that what we're looking at right now is the beginning of the return of rock."
Versatility was a recurring theme throughout the conversation. The panelists emphasized the importance of constant adaption: Why should "video game composer" be a distinct designation? And why is the Internet still called "new" media?
"20 years ago, I don't think we would have seen this convergence of non-orchestral music and orchestral music," noted William Morris Endeavor's Amos Newman, who pointed to the collaboration between Danny Elfman and T-Bone Burnett on the upcoming film adaptation of "Hunger Games" as one example.
The "My First Job" panel (from left:) Danny Benair, Music Licensing Expert & Owner, Natural Energy Lab; Gary Calamar, President, Go Music; Andrew Gross, Composer, Konsonant; VP of Film & Television Relations, BMI; moderator Jeff Jampol Manager, Jampol Artist Management, Inc; and Billboard's Phil Gallo. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Relationships of every stripe dominated the talk at the "My First Job" panel. As composers, songwriters and executives discussed their garage days, they continually hit upon the importance of relationships. It truly is all about who you know, they said -- and moreover, how well you develop and maintain those connections.
"Time after time, the guy that could hang, the guy that was the friend or the buddy, he got the job," noted manager Jeff Jampol, who handles the estates of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Peter Tosh, among others. "Friends take friends on tour."
Working on an old high school buddy's student films led Andrew Gross to score his first film, the 1996 Pauly Shore comedy "Bio-Dome." That experience included several months of pro bono temp music, as well, before the producers hired him.
"If you have an opportunity to intern or work for free for someone that's doing the job that you want to do, I would strongly recommend that you bite the bullet," said Go Music President Gary Calamar, who volunteered at LA's influential KCRW.
"There's a saying: your first one is free," said Jampol, who moderated the panel. "You get screwed on the first deal, the next deal you start to make some money."
Licensing expert Danny Benair started out in bands, including a group called The Quick and another band that toured with REM. He was quick to point out that his career path had no "blueprint" and that "sometimes that's the best way."
Building relationships, panelists suggested, can be a delicate art. Jampol advised attendees against shoving CDs or business cards into a stranger's hands. He recommended a more nuanced and organic approach - involving, say, running into someone a second or third time.
Benair told a story that ran counter, however. He's worked with a band who handed him a CD in the parking lot of a Supergrass gig. That band, The 88, has since written the theme song for NBC's "Community." He also recently signed a band that followed him on Twitter.
Calamar struck a tone somewhere in the middle. "I don't like having a CD shoved at me," he said. "I would just say go for it in a nice, friendly, professional way that hopefully won't turn the people off that you're submitting to."
"Having said that," he added, to much laughter," I'm not taking any CDs today."