Thoughts on Film Scores Video Contest

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in competition, music, video | No Comments

It’s been a couple of weeks since we posted the announcement of the Film Scores Summer Video Contest. Response has been amazing! 31 guitarists have registered and many others have expressed interest.

My work over the past decades has included plenty of solo playing, it is my first love. But singing in a semi-professional choir when I was at San Francisco Conservatory under the wonderful, loving baton of Jon Bailey changed my life forever. I pursued singing after college as a way of meeting people and sharing music, since guitar duets were about the only other possibility at the time. Little did I know how much this would expand my horizons and lead to a life of continually encountering new creative possibilities and an immense variety of musical and artistic pursuits singing, playing, composing, acting, writing, etc.

I have written songs and chamber music in many different combinations as a way of creating new possibilities for guitarists. Now I offer a video competition for young guitarists (or old) to explore avenues of expression besides solo guitar and music making as a sole expression. The roots of this idea started in 2007 when I accepted an offer to begin a concert series at the Roger Smith Hotel at 47th and Lexington, New York. It was known as the “Little Art Hotel.” The story of its own muse is amazing and long and I encourage you to explore their website. The short version is that my brother-in-law James Knowles is a great artist, but midway through life his wife inherited this small family-run hotel. Jimmy set about re-creating it’s image and infusing the space with vibrant color and life.

Besides Jimmy’s own sculpture and painting, the Hotel offered the Second Sundays Guitar Series, the Lab Gallery, and many artistic events. The in-house social media team was run by son John Knowles, nephew Adam Wallace and others. Their job, of course, was to document the events as well as create a buzz about the Hotel online. Much of that was video, which became a creative process itself in the hands of such innovative young pioneers. Samples can be seen at Roger Smith Shorts. Others are Homage to a Hero, The Talea Ensemble –  Adam’s later independent work can be seen at

Those were the early days of YouTube and Vimeo and millions of videos of all kinds have hit those venues since then. My hope now is to inspire more work in this direction that specifically encourages classical guitarists to be seen and heard in a variety of ways. My first draft of the Rules of the Film Scores Video Contest used three words to describe the project’s goal: movie, film and video. I opted for video, clearly the most common word for short moving visual with sound. Many times “videos” of musicians on YouTube do not even have moving photography, just an LP cover or other photo. So what is the difference and how can you use the word to guide your creativity in this competition. MOVIE is the real deal, it’s long, it’s expensive and tells a story. FILM might be the same, or might be a shorter documentary or independent work, but probably still tells a story. VIDEO is by far the most flexible, but to me implies short, spontaneous, energetic. That’s what I’m looking for in this contest.

My goal in writing these works was to be free and expressive, not bound by form or preconception. They are short on purpose, to allow me to quickly move on to the next idea. You can do the same thing. Or you can get together a team of collaborators, writers, director, cinematographer and go BIG. Your imagination is the only limit.

Some samples are at the Film Scores Gyre page and some of my own simplistic efforts are here:

  • First Snow –
  • Guitar Duets / Visit to Holland –
  • Vihuela –

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