On Monday, April 17, the first panel in “The Creative Process in 90 Minutes: Journeys in Filmaking” series connected students with lesser known aspects of storytelling as guest speakers revealed how artists’ ideas transform into beloved works of art.
Program one, “The Relationship Between Film and Music,” presented composer and musician Mauro Colangelo and multiple Emmy-award winning director and producer Erik Latek.
Colangelo has performed internationally with over 20 years of experience, producing music and sound for companies such as Sprite, Coca Cola, and Ferrari; he has also produced film scores and has worked with a variety of musicians on the keyboard and drums. Latek, voted “Top 25 New Faces in Film Worldwide” by Filmmaker Magazine, earned critical acclaim for his short documentary “Anna,” which aimed to “capture the soul” of his godmother before she passed away.
On Monday, Latek and Colangelo discussed their epic collaboration 15 years in the making: “Tiger,” an upcoming genre-defying documentary. “Tiger” is unscripted, but purposely projects a cinematic quality; Latek remarked that viewers of the trailer kept asking, “‘So who are the actors?’”
Latek and Colangelo discussed the relationship between music and the cinema in general before delving into “Tiger.” Although the process of creation usually remains unseen until events like this speaking engagement, audio is an invaluable part of film, Colangelo argued.
Latek smiled. “98 percent of our work relationship is us acting like six-year-olds,” he said. “It’s supposed to be fun, and I really enjoy that process.”
Colangelo added that music can add layers of emotion accompanied by just one visual.
“The movie doesn’t look good until it sounds good, including dialogue too,” he said.
The pair referenced “Jaws,” in which the malfunctioning mechanical shark forced Spielberg to use more general camera angles, allowing John Williams’ iconic score to entrance the audience’s imagination. Colangelo and Latek employed similar techniques of ambiance and musical intrigue in their previous collaborations, short films “Branch” and “The Shivoring.”
“[Filming “Tiger”] really taught me to go with the flow,” Latek said. He revealed that nothing went as expected because the film itself was so unexpected.
Colangelo detailed the difficulties of scoring a narrative-style documentary versus a traditional piece:
“The approach to music is usually in the background or generic, to support the ‘talking heads.’ You give priority to dialogues and hope at some moment that you can have music to change the pace or tone,” he said. “You don’t want to be distracted. You go to watch the movie, but not to forget the music.”
Artistic ambiguities aside, Latek had to adapt to filming his subject during difficult and intimate moments over the span of his life.
“Tiger” centers around famous Rhode Island Boxer Gary “Tiger” Valletto, who survived a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. Scenes from the film include moments between Gary and his family and Gary’s efforts to gain rights for boxers and disabled people. Latek played a scene in which Gary swims for the first time after the accident, to which Colangelo added a stunning score complete with the sound of a tiger’s roar.
Latek admitted that Gary was not who he expected; he was not an overblown macho fighting figure but a soft-spoken, driven family man eager to have his story told. Latek’s final advice?
“Landing the right agent whom you can trust is vital, especially for filmmakers,” he said. “You should work with people that you can have a good time with, and trust, trust, trust, because people can be evil in this industry.”
“Tiger” is coming soon to Netflix. This event was part of the Roving Eye Film Festival, which runs from April 17-23 at RWU this year.