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Nashville Film Festival Plays Matchmaker for Music Supervisors and Publishers at Annual Confab

The Nashville Film Festival, which just wrapped up in Music City over the weekend, has an extensive history of including music as part of its' program. After all, it is Music City. However, it's not…

The Nashville Film Festival, which just wrapped up in Music City over the weekend, has an extensive history of including music as part of its’ program. After all, it is Music City. However, it’s not singles and albums that is the focus of much of the music that has been heard at the Festival.

Because of the attention that has been focused on music, labels, songwriters and publishers have been able to get their talent in front of top music supervisors who pick the music in movies, TV, gaming and advertising campaigns. The resulting factor has been over a million dollars in sync placements for Nashville talent and companies.


Ask Randall Foster about Nashville’s focus on music placement and how it has paid off. As Music Committee Chair and Senior Director of Creative, Sync & Licensing at ole Music in Nashville, he has helped a band he works with by the name of MAKUTA play a Nashville Film Festival event. That exposure eventually led to their song “Feelin’ Good” being used in promos for CBS’s show Pure Genius. He definitely enjoys the challenges of what he does in terms of music placement – and the successes.

“Our success with MAKUTA is but a microcosm of the possibilities offered by the film festival. I believe our participation annually is the most important marketing move we make with regards to film, tv, games and ads. It affords us the ability to expose our talented writers and artists to supervisors, producers and studios in an intimate way that has proven to be effective.”

Music supervisors speak to a crowd about the best way to secure original music in film and television.
Music supervisors speak to a crowd about the best way to secure original music in film and television Courtesy of Big Machine

The successes of the Nashville Film Festival continue to add up, and helping to steer that momentum is Anastasia Brown, who is the President of the Nashville Film Festival board, who tells Billboard “As we expand the scope of the film festival in Nashville, it only makes sense to further build the music component, I’m so excited to have the best supervisors come to ‘Music City’ to explore the multitude of ways the film and music industries can work together in creating compelling factors that all contribute to the feelings viewers take from the most dramatic film and television scenes… In the last several years, these sessions have resulted in an average of forty to fifty music placements with leading film and television projects and we expect to exceed that number this year.”

The television industry has partnered with the Nashville Film Festival in 2018 perhaps more closely than ever before. Dawn Soler, Senior Vice President and Head of Music for ABC Television, is a longtime supporter of the Nashville Film Festival, and this year, she hosted an event titled “Binge Night” where she showcased the pilots of ABC’s Fall TV shows with hopes to find the right music to incorporate into them. Dawn also spoke on a panel where she details the best way to work with music supervisors. When asked why she chose the event to shine the spotlight on ABC’s hopes for 2018-19, she said she wanted to go where the heart of the creative community was.

“Music is a huge character for all of our ABC shows, so bringing our new pilots to Music City is a natural since most of the best storytellers are here,” she said. “And now with the growth of styles, you can get anything done here.”

big machine
Music supervisors join the Nashville Film Festival’s Music Committee at the 2018 festival. Pictured left to right is Deborah Mannis Gardner, DMG Clearances; Randall Foster, ole; Alex Hackford, Sony Playststion; Heather Cook, Peer Music Publishing; Eric Hurt, Black River Entertainment; Liz Rogers, Anacrusis Songs; Winslow Bright, SearchParty; Chase Casanova, Mark Woolen & Associates; Anastasia Brown, Format Entertainment; Dawn Soler, ABC Television; Claire Parr and Fletcher Foster, Iconic Entertainment; Jim Scherer, Whizbang inc.; Mandi Collier, Whirlygirl; Joseph Miller,  Rick Clark,  Joel Timen-Curb/Word Music Publishing; Katie Jelen, Warner Chappell; Jennifer Wolczy, Whizbang inc. ; Jane Heath.  Courtesy of Susan Berry

Soler stated that Nashville has a lot to offer the film industry. Specifically, she cited “talent, stories, and Nashville’s way of doing business. It’s always a pleasure to work with Nashville, and of course all of the music here. There is a passion here that is intoxicating.”

In addition to Brown and Soler, some of this year’s participants represented many avenues of the film industry, including Paul Logan from CMT / Paramount / TV Land, Whirlygirl’s Mandi Collins, and Rick Clark of Rick Clark Productions. This year’s panels included:

Sync and Be Heard – Discussion of the “how tos” of pitching for film, tv, advertising and game sync opportunities to learn the best practices for pitching music to music supervisors and also covering such topics as writing for sync.  The conversation included the types of songs and genres that really work for sync compared with the types of songs that are really difficult to sync. The panel was moderated by Eric Hurt of Black River Entertainment.

Case Studies in Sync – An in-depth behind the scenes look at the decisions that are made when selecting a song for a sync placement by dissecting specific examples of work by top music supervisors and music producers. The session covered ‘the brief,’ discuss how tempo, tone/feeling, and theme play a role, examine the reason(s) a song gets selected or not selected, the importance of context in a song, and the lines between the lines. The panel was moderated by Heather Cook of Peer Music.

The 2018 Nashville Film Festival kicked off with music integrated in film with Steven Tyler’s documentary Steven Tyler: Out On A Limb. Additionally, the festival featured a special screening of Colin Hanks’ acclaimed 2015 Tower Records documentary All Things Must Pass, exploring the rise and fall of Tower Records and its founder Russ Solomon, as well as other notable films featuring The Edge, Ronnie Van Zant, Johnny Van Zant, Brian “Head” Welch and many more.