Sunday, June 18, 2006

Let Me Guess. I Was Too Honest, Right?

When you're a songwriter and you want to make a living at it, you're constantly looking for opportunities to either play your songs or get others to sing your sings, or get others to use your songs in TV shows or movies or on stage. In other words, life is an endless series of job auditions. Most of the time, you get turned down. Either a singer isn't interested or your query letter gets ignored, or, as recently happened to me when I answered a craigslist ad seeking lyrics for a movie scene, "Sorry. This ain't gonna cut it."

So, last night, I was scouring the net looking for a certain movie producer because, in tandem with songwriter Paul Zollo, an old buddy of mine who wrote me a terrific new lyric about jazz musician Billy Tipton, this producer was just now making a movie about Tipton. (Billy Tipton was a jazz pianist and sax player who was well known in the 40s, married five times and had three adopted kids, and who was discovered, at his death to have been a woman).

(I had originally approached Paul about writing a lyric for me about Billy because I thought a song about him might be a great idea for my project with Alexandra Billings. A transgender singer singing about a transgender musician. Genius, right?)

So, Paul handed me the lyric -- it's called Brilliant Masquerade -- and I finished a couple of drafts of the demo, when, in researching Billy on the Net, discovered that a movie producer here in LA was currently in production with a movie about Billy Tipton called "Exactly Like You."

So, what the hell, I thought. I'll write an email and see if they'd be interested in our song. Even though Alex is currently in Chicago for the summer doing Suessical, at least they could hear the demo with my vocal and decide if the song is right or not, and then we could arrange to record it with Alex's vocal.

So, I wrote a query letter, explaining all this stuff to the producer, Effie T. Brown, and since it was unlikely she knew who I was (given the fact that theatre is invisible here in La La Land), I included some credits in the email, which read:
I know I'm coming to you from out of the blue, but I have extensive credits mostly in theatre, having won the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Score of the Musical twice now in he past few years. So, I assure you I'm an amateur.
Having copied Jim on the email, I suddenly hear a guffaw coming from downstairs. "I don't think you meant to say this."


"Alexandra is going to laugh so hard."



Oh, god. Just what a movie producer wants to hear. I didn't just let the credits speak for themselves. I had to ASSURE her that I was an amateur. Red-faced and humiliated, I turned off my computer and went to bed. Another job lost?

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Gabi Clayton said...

Maybe not a lost job Steve. Maybe she will be curious and check you and the song out. I hope so!

Steve Schalchlin said...

That's assuming I hear back from her at all. We'll see...

DavidEhrenstein said...

You never can tell.

Anyway you MORE than had every right to give it a try, Steve.

Wonder if this project will eer get made -- Hollywood being Hollywood and all. That Dusty Springfield biopic is alrady in turnaraound.

Christine Bakke said...

Actually, when I first read that, I assumed you were being witty, saying "amateur" with a wink. Perhaps she will too and think it's a refreshing display of humor and not having too big of an ego... :)

Steve Schalchlin said...

Hey! I like the way you think! That's it! I was being funny!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was witty and funny, too! :)


Anonymous said...

Although we usually think of amateur as being the opposite of professional, it really means someone who does something for the love of it. Therefore, you ARE an amateur.

Steve Schalchlin said...

Considering how much money I've made at this, I KNOW I'm an amateur.