To commemorate The Stagg Do soundtrack going on (pre) sale - the director of the film - James DeMarco - has written this blog.
During the production of our first short film, Making Tea For The Mob, way back in 2002, I was intent on using Bobby Darin’s classic song, “Beyond The Sea” for the opening credits. As low-budget, indie filmmakers, we have all been warned about the perils of including popular songs in our films, and even a few seconds of a pop song classic such as ‘Beyond The Sea’ which has appeared in TV ads and Hollywood productions such as ‘Goldmember’ and ‘Finding Nemo’, could command top-dollar - a definite no-no for any low-budget production.
But I loved the song. It fit perfectly with what I was trying to do thematically. And it was my first short film. In other words, committed the egregious error of having my heart set on a popular song. Undaunted and naive, I pressured producer Zahra to find out just how much it would cost to use the song in the opening credits. Part of the problem with using well-known recordings is that not only do you have to obtain clearance the rights of the performance, e.g. Bobby Darin’s version - you also have to pay for the publishing license from whoever owns the copyright - in this case some French bloke called Charles Trenet (his version of the song, ‘La Mer’ was a hit in France in the 40s long before Bobby Darin’s version).
Warner Brothers Music label held the master usage rights for Darin’s performance, and after writing a letter to them explaining our financial situation and plans for the film, they surprisingly granted us a one-year license to use ‘Beyond The Sea’ in festivals for no charge. The synchronization license wasn’t so easy. The songwriter's estate wanted to be paid. In the end it cost us about £200 for the festival rights for one year. Still not bad. But what about the following year?
In retrospect it’s rather silly (and cost prohibitive) to fall in love with popular music for your indie film soundtrack, but this can easily happen when you choose temporary music with which to initially edit your film.
In the case of The Stagg Do, editor David Garbutt and I agreed upon an eclectic array of songs from well-known groups such as The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, The Kinks, The Stone Roses and a song by a guy whom we later learned wanted to charge us $30,000.
By the time we had completed our first rough edit of the film, David, Zee and I were all happy with the soundtrack - the soundtrack that we could never hope to afford. But then something amazing happened. Forced to seek out cost effective alternatives, Zahra discovered a wealth of fantastic, affordable music from unsigned/ unknown local bands and musicians, most of which were in the North East.
Using Soundcloud, Youtube and ReverbNation, she managed to locate replacements for our original songs from local, unsigned bands, and working with the artists directly, she was able to secure the rights to their songs for a percentage of profits on the movie soundtrack release. So now we have an exciting mix of genres, styles and performances that enhance the film more than any of the well-know tracks ever could.
I would even go as far as saying that I prefer the new songs more than the originals. We are very proud of the soundtrack which will be available online from 1 September 2014 and on CD before Christams.
Here is a listing of our TSD Soundtrack and the songs they replaced.
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.