Film Music Guild Announces 2009 Film Music Conference

Film Music Magazine • August 6, 2009

Dave Martina and a volunteer staff of nine other passionate and innovative students have collaborated to design the Film Music Guild Conference 2009, a one-day conference for student filmmakers and composers intended to bring together many of the necessary elements for future success in the film industry: learning from current industry professionals, networking with future filmmakers and composers, and practical tools for adapting to and succeeding in a field of perpetual forward motion and growth. The Conference will be held Saturday, October 3 at Biola University.

The initiative for the conference began in 2007 when Martina and his friend Jeff Swingle, both music composition students at Biola University, realized that there was a serious disconnect between filmmakers and composers. Undoubtedly, one of the most powerful tools of visual storytelling is the incorporation of music, but composers are usually asked to superimpose their creativity on top of a nearly finished product instead of being an integral part of the creative development of a film.

And the same proved true of student filmmakers and student composers. “We have a music school on one side of campus and literally across campus we have a film school, and they would never talk to each other,” Martina explains. “If I wanted to learn about how to write music for a film, I would have to go over to the film school and try to pick up projects.” While it taught Martina one valuable skill—how to network—he was not creatively satisfied with the results and thought there must be a win-win somewhere.

The solution? The Film Music Guild. Martina and Swingle founded the Guild to bring together Biola students from the film and composition departments to network, think about their respective arts in conversation with one another, and talk with professionals from the industry.

As the Guild has grown, it has begun to attract students from film and music programs around Southern California. Past speakers include Brian Tyler (Eagle Eye, Children of Dune), J.A.C. Redford (One Night with the King, orchestrations on Wall•E), and Randy Haberkamp (Director of Educational Projects, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

The Guild was succeeding in its mission to effectively equip students to face the challenges of Hollywood and also spark conversation on a deeper level about collective creativity and excellent visual storytelling, but growth and attendance had hit a plateau. Martina realized that something more was necessary if the Guild was going to be a lasting organization, and so plans were made to hold the first ever Film Music Guild Conference.

The all-student staff of the FMG Conference 2009 is firmly committed to the belief that collective creativity is the key to telling a good story and making a good film, and true collaboration between director and composer is an essential piece of the overall picture. The power of a group of excellent artists committed to true, collaborative art-making is both immense and under-realized. Martina explains, “The beauty of film is that you have multiple languages being spoken to you at the same time all of which you understand, many of which you don’t speak, but all of which you can resonate with.” The question is, how can a creative team draw on its members more fully and pull those elements into a stronger cohesion?

The Guild also recognizes that students today will be leaders in the industry tomorrow, and future filmmakers will be future culture-shapers; Martina comments “If we can get a whole generation of film students thinking about beauty and art and composing and why music is important, we can change the industry.” As the next generation of leaders in the film industry, film and composition students have the potential to create art that will shape thought and culture for generations to come, and the staff of the FMG Conference 2009 believes that it’s just good sense to bring them together now, before they enter the industry, so that they can dialogue with industry veterans and begin thinking together about how to best create meaningful art.

The staff’s vision is to make the conference an annual event, building credibility with excellent panelists and lecturers and turning out alumni that understand not only how to tell better stories with music, but how to tell better stories overall. Currently confirmed speakers include Pete Docter (director, Up, Monsters Inc.), John Ottman (editor and composer, Valkyrie, Superman Returns, X-Men 2), Christopher Young (composer, Spiderman 3, The Grudge, Ghostrider), Rob Simonsen (composer, Dollhouse TV show), Mike Watts (orchestrator on Passion of the Christ, Bruce Almighty), J.A.C. Redford (composer, One Night with the King, orchestrations on Wall•E), Allison Wright Clark (score coordinator, Pirates of the Caribbean I), Dan Savant (music contractor, Pasion of the Christ, Sin City, Sideways), and Anne Cecere (Associate Director, Film & TV Relations at BMI). Right now, they are in talks with Bear McCreary (composer, Battlestar Galactica) and Jon Burlingame (Film Music Historian, contributor to the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Hollywood Reporter).

For more information about the FMG Conference 2009 or to schedule an interview with members of the staff, please contact Danielle Yvette Howe at 808.358.8328 or visit

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