Music And Storytelling Panel At the First SAM Symposium Is An Inspiration for Creatives


This past weekend, creatives in the San Diego Area were invited to SAM (Comic -Con’s Story Telling Across Media) Symposium. The event consisted of well-known producers, directors, and other professionals from the entertainment industry, teaching the craft of storytelling.

Fans were invited to participate in panels throughout the day on learning the secrets on how these masters of the craft use special techniques and skills to give us the full experience.

In the “Storytelling with Sound & Music” panel. experts relayed their stories on the field of what it took to make scenes come alive through music and sound addition.  The conversation included Composer Jake Monaco (Amazon’s The Stinky And Dirty Show), songwriter Dan Bern (Amazon’s The Stinky And Dirty Show), showrunner and executive producer Guy Toubes (Amazon’s The Stinky And Dirty Show), visionary VR & VFX creative Michael Conelly (Caliban Below), Composer David Norland (HBO’s My Dinner With Hervé) and Director Sacha Gervasi (HBO’s My Dinner With Hervé).

The panel conversation kicked off with moderator Kaya Savas of Film.Music.Media asking each panelist about their collaborative process when blending story with music or sound. Gervasi began, “David and I have been playing together since we were kids. One of the advantages of having a long-term relationship is having a whole lifetime of figuring out how to advance the storytelling through sound.”

Next, Toubes elaborated on collaborating with Jake and Dan on the Sticky and Dirty Show, sharing that “the key to success for our show is to love the materials and find what we love about the thing we are working on. That brings the best musical and storytelling results.”

Kaya asked the panelists to reflect on a favorite scene where sound or music played an integral role.  Michael started with discussing working in virtual reality, where the sound has a unique set of challenges, yet is crucially important. “For my project Caliban Below, it is very dark and you feel very powerfully. I rely on sound when I construct these virtual places. When my sound designer, Paula Fairfield, adds her sound effects it truly electrifies the experience to an enormous degree. It magnifies the experience and makes it that much more real.”

David answered, “There’s a moment at the end of the film where the characters in My Dinner with Hervé are saying goodbye to each other. It’s one of those moments that once you put the score in, it transforms the emotion of the scene. It was such an honor to work on this project and watch Sacha’s vision evolve over the years since its inception.”

Monaco commented about a character theme he got to create for The Stinky and Dirty Show. “I added a French score with an accordion playing and that sound brought the character to life.” He continued, “working in tandem is an exciting challenge and brings out the best in each of us, we just put aside the ego and let the best idea win.” Dan concluded, “if something isn’t working for somebody then it’s not working. You just need to take a break and you will come back with a better idea.”

The panel ended with songwriter Dan Bern unleashing a surprise for the fans, as he brought out his guitar to play a rendition of the “Ding Ding” song. The song was a perfect synthesis of one of the important ways music and sound can augment story, as the song explains the Buoy characters language, which consists of only repetitions of the word ding.

To conclude the panel, Sacha offered aspiring creatives in the audience words of wisdom stating, “always work with people far better than you and do the exact opposite of what people expect you to do. You need to have passion and be true to yourself, and rock it really hard.”