Ever since we started our San Francisco video production company in 2003, our mission at Corduroy Media has included not only the creation of high quality content for our clients but also an active relationship with the community at large. Sometimes adherence to our mission shows up in the form of pro-bono work done on behalf of local non-profits. Other times, it shows up through our support of local talent in the Bay Area filmmaking community.
In fact, one of the reasons we wanted to build out our new video production studio in Oakland was to create a space where filmmakers, creatives, and artists can come together to share their work and discuss the filmmaking process. So we’re happy to report the success of our very first Filmmakers Forum, which we held here in our studio at the end of March.
For this first gathering, we screened The Art of Listening, a documentary film directed by Michael Coleman, a longtime friend of Corduroy Media. We invited a select group of about 40 people to view and discuss the film. It was an intimate and comfortable gathering that allowed for an open dialogue about the film’s content and the filmmaking process.
The Art of Listening is “a documentary film about the journey music takes to reach a listener’s ear, from the intent of an instrument maker and composer, to the producers and engineers who capture and preserve an artist’s voice,” as stated on the film’s website.
Whether you’re music obsessed or even just have a favorite song that you listen to over and over again, The Art of Listening will give you a deeper appreciation for the music you love. It’s recently available for online viewing and has already been viewed 300,000 times in just over a month.
Check out the trailer and then meet us below for a Q&A with Michael Coleman
Below, Michael Coleman shares some of his thoughts on both the film and the importance of community screenings.
Let’s start by talking about the importance of music, and what you intended with the film.
Music is a good friend. We like to have it around us. We like to put it on when we’re in the car. We like to listen to it when we’re at home, so music in and of itself can be something that we just turn on and play in the background. That’s fine, but the film is reaching toward the intent of the artist, the experience of having music as a priority in terms of giving it attention and spending time with it.
The first question we were trying to answer is whether or not people would care more about music if they listened to it in high resolution, but we realized that’s just a preference, and it’s also subjective. Like art in general. Also, technologies and formats will come and go. We have cassettes, we have CDs, and we have digital and streaming. We don’t know what the future is going to be like when it comes to ways that people are going to receive and experience their music, so we wanted to approach the film in a way that wasn’t grounded in just high-res, or format. In the end, we decided to articulate this message of the journey of music to the listener and to help emphasize the people involved.
Were you hoping to deepen or otherwise change the relationship people have with music?
Most people who listen to music, they already love music have had a relationship with it throughout their life. This film is just a friendly reminder, a nudge for people to think about music with a different perspective and to have a deeper appreciation for the art form.
One challenge is that now music is digital and there’s no physical relationship we have with it anymore. You don’t touch it and you don’t see it. I think the convenience of digital music is a great thing for exploration and the discovery process but the downside is not having the physical relationship, so detachment is easier because of that.
It was really important to me to put a face to the artists and the engineers and to show that for every piece of music, there are tons of people that are involved in that process that we’re not aware of.
We understand that part of your vision when you set out to create this film was a series of screenings and discussions in various cities. Why was that important to you?
I feel like this film is the beginning of a conversation. I think everyone has their own personal take and experience, which makes it great for discussions. Everyone kind of comes at it differently, whether you’re an engineer, an artist, a filmmaker, or even just a music lover. The screenings are meant to get people to think about the subject and to talk about it.
What’s next for you?
I’m in development on my next feature documentary, so I’m beginning that process again now. I can’t really share what it is quite yet, but it is sound related. I also continue to produce an audio and video series through Soundworks Collection. It’s a series that is focused mostly on the sound in films that are in theaters. I just did a piece on the sound in King Kong, and I’m working on a piece about the sound in Ghost in the Shell, the Scarlett Johansson film. Every week, there’s a what’s next, I guess.