Having a chance to collaborate with your daughter – priceless

Cara Clay, right, with classmate in Spain.

Cara Clay, right, with classmate in Spain.

On rare occasions the things you’ve loved most in life just come together in unexpected ways. Back in the 1980s I dated a woman who was one of the most special people I’ve known – Marla Sommerville. We only dated a couple of years but have remained good friends ever since. We’re both workaholics and rarely get to see each other anymore. But Marla gave me two great gifts – her daughters, Marisa Sommerville and Cara Clay. They were 8 and 2 respectively when Marla and I started dating. They became my kids and have remained so ever since. They grew to be exceptional women. Marisa is now an entertainment lawyer in television and film, and Cara is a composer, currently in Spain studying film scoring.

Cara contacted me a few days ago to see if I wanted to do a collaboration with her. She has the opportunity to work with an orchestra in London later this month, and wondered if I might put together a three-minute film for her to compose a score to. We’ve done a couple of small collaborations in the past but this sounded like great fun. So I decided to see what I might put together.

At first I thought about doing something with the windup toys I used to work with when she was very small. At some point I may do that again, but with work heaped up and time short I opted to do something else. Every time I stepped out of my house over the past few days the clouds have been rolling by, reminding me of all of the wonderful time lapse footage I have from monsoons past and assorted rare Tucson weather days. Eventually it sunk in that maybe I should sequence something out of that for her.

And so I started piecing together a quasi narrative out of snippets of mostly time lapse stuff shot in the desert. There are a few real time segments, including a dust storm blowing in Avra Valley before a monsoon, and a flock of pigeons circling and descending upon the collapses remains of an adobe house on the Tohono O’odham reservation. But mostly its clouds, sky and desert landscape at play in compressed time.

Even with the segments already shot it was tough to decide what order and form they should take, so a bit of shuffling went on. I’d step away and work on something else for a few hours, then come back, watch and fiddle some more. Individual clips got dropped and added, clip durations shortened and lengthened, and eventually I sculpted something that seemed at least modestly coherent. I called it, “En El Desierto.”

I sent it off last night, knowing that it would be a while before Cara would wake up in Spain and see it. But about 3 a.m. our time she sent me a note. To my relief, she likes it, and said it made her homesick. That made me smile.

Now it’s her turn. I can’t wait to see how she imagines it in sound. I know it will be a great experience for her to work with the orchestra, and feel so lucky that she thought of me to work with. And I know she’ll make that footage even more incredible with her music.

~ by Daniel Buckley on May 8, 2014.

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