Solo Keyboard Film Accompaniment

Presenting a silent film with solo accompaniment involves the following:

Each venue will naturally have its own requirements and interests, and we will be happy to work with you to develop the arrangement that will be the most convenient and cost-effective. For further information, please contact us at symphony@philipcarli.com or (585) 527-9632.

Even though 90% of silent film has been lost, there are still wonderful films available in wide variety in every genre from comedy to noir. Dr. Carli specializes in the improvised accompaniment of archival films that are not available for pre-viewing, and is therefore very comfortable accompanying film “to order” for a specific program a venue may be planning. With his wide experience of films, including print availability, condition and cost, and his expertise in suiting films to the audience and occasion, he can also offer any level of guidance that may be wanted in choosing a film that will look great and bring audiences back for more. Please contact us for references from satisfied venues!

Films may be available in 35 mm. or 16 mm. film format and/or on DVD. The rental/rights fees are generally the same for either 35 mm. or DVD; 16 mm. is generally cheaper, but is not appropriate for larger houses. Film purists prefer film, but projection logistics must be taken into consideration. Many silent films cannot be projected at normal sound speed (24 frames per second). Therefore, showing these films will require either DVD projection or projectors with variable speed settings. Small houses may rent 16 mm. projectors with variable speed, but rental of 35 mm. variable speed controls may be costly. Films made later in the silent period can run at sound speed, so this problem can be avoided by choosing one of these films.

Dr. Carli accompanies both on piano and on organ. If a piano is used it should be large enough for the sound to fill the house comfortably (a grand is preferable) and should be tuned the day of the performance. If required, he can bring with him a high quality portable electronic keyboard for an additional fee. Accompaniments are normally improvised in tandem with the film screening, and it is not normally necessary to schedule a preview of the film, though time on the day of performance to try over the piano or preset organ registrations will be necessary, and a pre-check of the print is advisable at this time. If a venue strongly prefers an accompaniment based on a cue sheet or incorporating particular tunes, Dr. Carli has experience with this style and will be happy to accommodate. However, this may involve extra fees (by prior agreement) for locating and licensing some of the selections.

There will be separate fees for the rental of the film and performance of the score. Since ASCAP (and, by extension, other performance rights organizations) was prevented by antitrust legislation in the 1940s from representing composers regarding film accompaniment in theaters, the royalty fee for the score will be included in the accompaniment package, but will NOT be charged by any performance rights organization.

Film accompaniments may appeal to different audience segments than other types of concerts, and images from the films are often available for use in promotion. Dr. Carli can help to locate promotional materials when needed, and also make himself available to meet with press representatives. In some cases press screenings may be arranged.

return to top

return to home