Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mark's Mammoth Music Blog

Hi, I'm Mark Witsken, producer of "Ten Inch Hero." A lot of people have asked us about some of the music in our movie. Brace yourself for a long entry. I apologize in advance. [Note: If you are hyper-ventilating, frantically scanning for the words "Bethany Joy" to appear, you can skip to the middle of paragraph 4.]

The process of finding and creating songs for our movie has been a blast, and very important to me. Being a musician myself, I am thinking about it all the time; I kept a list of songs for a year that I wanted to use in the movie, in the end, -0- of them made the final cut! Which is cool because we found so many great new bands and artists, and produced a few songs for the movie ourselves. Director/producer David Mackay, Music supervisor Andrea von Foerster, and myself got together many times to exchange lists and listen to ideas.

Some other time I may write more of a blog on the new artists we discovered and their songs we chose for the movie. In the meantime, check this one out, the song is called "Blue" by up-and-comer Dave Lichens. Go to and listen to the track. Then watch "the BLUE recording session" video posted underneath the blogs – very cool!

As I said, we (myself and David) produced 3 new songs ourselves, along with composer Don Davis. Don is a world-class composer of many films such as The Matrix and Behind Enemy Lines. We were honored to have him score our film, and it was an amazing learning trip to watch him compose and record his music. He also takes criticism surprisingly well on his bass playing. He composed the original score for our movie, and he and Bethany Joy Galeotti wrote some new songs, sung by Bethany Joy, for the movie soundtrack. The 4 of us kicked those ideas around for months, sending demos back and forth across the country, until we settled on a few songs and recorded them.

But here is how the whole thing with Bethany Joy Galeotti (who is one of the stars of the CW network show, One Tree Hill) came about:

Last spring I was talking to my teenage pal Madison A. who is a really good friend, and she has great musical taste too, it turns out... I knew she was a One Tree Hill fan so I told her David & I were going to be meeting with Bethany Joy about the movie. Madison was excited and told me, "you know, she's a great singer too, I saw her at the One Tree Hill concert and she was amazing." Well, now I had to hear more....

So at the end of our meeting with Bethany Joy, (which went great and David and I have been fans of hers ever since), I asked about her music and did she have a demo CD or anything. She said she did in her car but needed to go burn me a copy... so she runs out and burns a copy on her laptop, comes back in like a half-hour and hands me this CD-R with song titles written on a piece of paper. I went home and listened to it, and I don't want to be melodramatic but I was blown away. And that happens very rarely. Amazing vocals, wonderful vocal style, very real and natural, great phrasing, and 100% natural real sound, none of that over-processed, auto-tuned to death stuff we're all used to hearing now. Two songs in particular grabbed me and would not let go, "Blue Sky," and "Never Gonna Be." (I have probably listened to Blue Sky now 50-100 times; it's a cover of a Patty Griffin song.) So I gave the CD to David and told him this is no ordinary singer, she's amazingly good. He listened and felt the same way I did.

At this point it looked like it would not work out for Bethany Joy to be involved in the film for various complicated reasons. And then she sent an email to us, which I can't get into the details... but just saying something to us about the movie, in her own special way... and it made such an impression on both of us. We both read it separately, and then I walked into David's office and we were looking at each other like, she HAS to be involved in our movie!

So we got to talking along those lines, and at first wanted to possibly use one of her songs on the CD in the movie but the rights were owned by major companies, and were difficult to license. So then we thought, hey let's see if she wants to record a new song for the movie. Well as soon as we told Don Davis about the idea, he was totally into writing something with her... so we all jumped into the project and she started sending us a few demos of ideas she had, and Don started writing the music for some songs, for Bethany Joy to add lyrics. In the end we used 3 songs from this process, 2 rock songs and an emotional ballad.

The songs were recorded at Don's studio in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles. Bethany Joy flew in while on a break from OTH filming, and she recorded ALL the vocals in basically a day and a half. I was very concerned to have her cram that much singing into 2 days, this was mostly new material, very little rehearsal time, and one of the songs had brand new lyrics, I think she just wrote them on the airplane or something! But she is such a pro and so in control of her voice that it was a piece of cake.

Her husband Michael came in too, he arrived late because he missed his flight, I think he hadn't shaved and looked like a terrorist, or maybe he forgot his license, I can't recall. But he flew in later to have dinner with all of us. Great guy, I am amazed to this day because he sat there, with the 3 of us blow-hards, (David, me and Don, not Bethany) pontificating and lecturing on all this and that, as people will do when creating anything by committee... and Michael sat there and didn't say a word, he just held his tongue even though I'm sure he had plenty of opinions on what was going on. He's a talented musician too, in a band called ENation. They are excellent, Bethany Joy gave me their CD. In fact, she made me listen to the whole thing on the long drive up from the L.A. airport. She's like, "Oh, hope you don't mind, do you? Check this out…" as she's putting the CD in and blasting the volume... But it was great, luckily. So check them out.

The 3 songs we recorded are titled "The Long Way," "Get Your Love" and "Something Familiar."

I don't know if they will be released before or after the movie comes out, that is a whole [business/ record company /soundtrack] scenario that is impossible to predict. But the one thing I do know is we feel blessed to have been able to work with Bethany Joy Galeotti and bring more of her talents to you! Hope you enjoy the results.

Thanks for being interested in what we do-
Mark Witsken


Chelsea and Brian said...

I CANNOT wait for the movie and the soundtrack to be released!!!! I watch the trailor all the time just to see the scenes and to hear Bethany Joy's amazing voice.

Anonymous said...

that is a great story. I heard "the long way" and "something familia" on youtube today. they sound great. amazing lyric and bethany joy's voice is awesome. I really want to see this movie.

steve_hourigan said...

Hey it your high school buddy-Steve Hourigan. Give me a call when you get a chance. I want to catch up and see how your movie mogul efforts are going.Give me your contact information.

Anonymous said...

i loved the movie! and ive been wrecking my brain to find "something familiar" ever since!! now i know... aloha! <3 dayna

Anonymous said...

the movie was awesome ... great work :D