Interview with Ben Model about his “Laughter Restored” presentation
Ben Model
by Ben Model
1w ago
On Saturday May 18th I will be giving a presentation entitled “Laughter Restored: Discovering Rare Gems of Silent Film” at the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Restored and Rediscovered Festival. This will be a first for me, as I’ve not given this presentation before. I’ll be talking about how I became a boutique home-video label, without intending to. Undercrank Productions was born in 2012 via a coalescence of ideas I’d had: I had a stack of rare silent shorts in 16mm that no one could otherwise see, there was this new form of fundraising called Kickstarter that artists and creators were discoverin ..read more
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A (Wednes)day in the Life, in 60 Seconds
Ben Model
by Ben Model
1w ago
I’m posting this in May 2024, and I realize that it’s entirely possible that if you’ve found this post later in the year or some time in 2025, most of the embedded videos may be blank. For now, a brief story about how some TikTok videos I made after teaching class sessions led to my being invited to participate in the making of a video by and for Wesleyan University’s Office of Social Media. It’s exhausting doing social media posts, doing one’s work and then trying to step outside of yourself to document something about it to post that’s attention-grabbing or intriguing enough to survive the e ..read more
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Ep. 63: Scoring Decisions and Transitions
Ben Model
by Ben Model
2w ago
In this episode: Ben recaps his month’s activities in March 2024, talks about the subtleties of underscoring dramatic moments when a main character thinks through an important decision, a creative way to invent main themes for a program of 7 animated shorts, accompanying a 1914 “Italian Diva” melodrama, and picking up on something about the film from its spoken introduction that affected the score created during the show; plus live-performance excerpts from scores for “Shoes” (1916) by Lois Weber at NYU, a restored Koko the Clowns cartoon at MoMA, and “Sangue Bleu” (1914) at Casa Italiana Zeri ..read more
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An Ozu Scoring Clue from Joan Jonas
Ben Model
by Ben Model
3w ago
Last week, I had another one of those film accompanist experiences where a spoken introduction helped shape the way I played for the film. There is currently a major gallery exhibition at the MoMA honoring the work of artist Joan Jonas. In conjunction with this exhibition, the film department has organized one of their “Carte Blanche” film series to tie in with the galleries, in which Jonas has selected several films to be screened that are favorites of hers. The series’ opening night selection was the silent film, A Story of Floating Weeds (1934), directed by Yasujiro Ozu. Joan Jonas introduc ..read more
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Episode 62 show notes: The Silent Film Music Podcast
Ben Model
by Ben Model
3M ago
Episode 62 Show Notes: “Round-up of January 2024 shows, and more” Theme & Introductions Introduction Silent Movies are thriving! Increased restorations in homevideo; increased awareness of the importance of physical media Undercrank Productions is likely to have at least as many new releases in 2024 as it did in 2023 Live Performances of Improvised Scores Sky High (1922) starring Tom Mix at the Library of Congress Packard Campus Ben adapted his piano themes from the Blu ray to the theater organ at Packard Walker Digital Theater Organ With Buster Keaton in Cops (not Ben playing) The I ..read more
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Episode 61 show notes: The Silent Film Music Podcast
Ben Model
by Ben Model
5M ago
Episode 61 Show Notes: “Improvising Themes for Re-Use and Development” Theme & Introductions Ben and Kerr discuss the dearth of holiday movies from the Silent Era “There Ain’t No Santa Claus” (1926) starring Charley Chase (from ep. 97 of The Silent Comedy Watch Party) Ben talks about recording the new Podcast Theme on a grand piano at MOMA. The saga of the Chrome-Legged Steinway… Why being an itinerant pianist or theater organist is like playing baseball Playing for THE BIG PARADE at the Elmont Memorial Library, introduced by Philip Harwood Trying to find a steady tempo for the marc ..read more
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Ep. 61: Improvising Themes for Re-Use and Development
Ben Model
by Ben Model
5M ago
In this episode: Ben shares his experiences accompanying the silent era blockbuster “The Big Parade”, the rare Italian film “A’ Santanotte”, Laurel & Hardy shorts, and others; he and Kerr discuss the practices of creating leitmotifs on the fly during a show, and then repeating them later in the film’s score; there’s some deep info and history on the different pianos at MoMA, and how the feel of playing these pianos – and the many others Ben encounters in his work – affect his playing and live-scoring; Ben’s New Year’s resolution for his silent film accompaniments (with a nod to Akira Kuros ..read more
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Ep. 60: Music on the Road: Late Summer – Autumn 2023
Ben Model
by Ben Model
6M ago
In this episode: accompanying several films at MoMA in August of new restorations and a series of early color process silents; audience response difference between San Francisco Silent Film Festival and MoMA screening, and how this affected Ben’s score in NYC; Ben talks about pivoting when presented before a show with a change of running time or of musical instrument; audience laughs during the climax of Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last”; accompanying a film where only way to preview was by reading trade reviews; live recording excerpts from “Loves of Casanova” at MoMA, “Safety Last” in Schroon Lak ..read more
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Kickstarting and Pre-ordering
Ben Model
by Ben Model
8M ago
I’ve heard Kickstarting a home-video project referred to as, essentially, pre-ordering the Blu-ray or DVD. It is, and it isn’t. For the fan or consumer, in the sense of the definition of “pre-ordering”, backing a Kickstarted Blu/DVD project certainly looks like that’s what you’re doing. You’re sending in money for the product in advance of its actual street date or release. Way way way in advance. For the person producing the project, though, the math is a little different. When you pre-order a Blu-ray, what I receive is a per-unit royalty. Without divulging the specific amount, I can tell you ..read more
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Episode 59 show notes: The Silent Film Music Podcast
Ben Model
by Ben Model
9M ago
Episode 59 Show Notes: “The Dog Days are here (July), but maybe not in San Francisco” Undercrank Productions’ 10th Anniversary 10th Anniversary of Undercrank Productions Enthusiastic press/internet response Accompanying Edward Everett Horton shorts at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival Ben attends the 26th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival for the first time; many fans think he’s been there before, and here’s why. Performing for three Edward Everett Horton films; reviews the main theme for each film, e.g., for Horse Shy, a theme based on the bugle call to post. Why three two-r ..read more
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