In the Fall of 2017, our friends at Musicbed and Filmsupply hosted the first ever Film+Music Conference. The event was meant to bring together people of two crafts that work so closely together, yet rarely interact.

Firstly, if you’re a creative and don’t know about theses guys, you have to check them out. Film Supply has changed the stock footage game by partnering with award winning filmmakers to allow people to license stunningly cinematic footage for their own films. This is not your father’s corporate stock footage.

Film + Music Conference in Fort Worth

Similarly, Music Bed partners with world-class, accomplished musicians who create truly amazing tracks. A great music track can elevate a video to great heights and Music Bed artists deliver.

When Signature Video Group got word of the 2nd annual conference, we had to go. So we hopped on a plane to Fort Worth Texas to check it out. Over the course of the two day conference, we had the pleasure of listening to great live concerts from Music Bed artists, hearing keynote speakers and participate in break-out sessions with industry leaders.

Here are our favourite moments of the conference.

Forth Worth Arts Center

Some say location is everything, and while that might not necessarily be true of all things, it certainly helps set the tone of an event. The Fort Worth Community Arts Centre sits in the middle of the city’s cultural centre and is surrounded by museums and art galleries, many of which were venues for breakout sessions throughout the conference.

The Arts Centre itself boasts plenty of natural light and a large theatre with great acoustics – two things that are greatly appreciated by filmmakers and musicians alike — plus a spacious outdoor terrace to catch some fresh air and a quick game of bean bag toss.

2. Morning Music

Whether you sing in the shower or have an awesome commute playlist, you know there’s no better way to start your morning than with some good jams. It was a smart move to kick things off each morning with high energy sets (and plenty of coffee), because it got us pumped up for the day. We loved the ethereal sound of Friday’s opening act, Sucré, and the energetic, soulful vibe of Johnny Stimson on Saturday.

The afternoon sets didn’t pale in comparison either. The Seige brought some awesome aggressive energy, husband and wife duo Gungor shared some heartfelt folky tunes and Stephen Blake Kanicka finished the conference off with his unique blend of classical and contemporary instrumental.

Here’s a taste of our morning pick-me-up:

3. The Size

For a conference in its second year, Film+Music knows how to draw a crowd. Being first-timers, we didn’t know what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised. The turnout of about 450 people fell in that sweet spot between mega-event and intimate gathering. The auditorium was packed for each keynote and music set, but we weren’t stuck shoulder to shoulder trying to network either.

If ever looking for a quiet place to make a phone call or jot down some notes for later, conference-goers had plenty of spots to choose from on the grounds surrounding the conference building. The whole surrounding area gave the impression of one big college campus.

4. Twin Taoers

Conferences are a great place to network and learn about your industry but when done right, they should be a place to get inspired by your industry peers and change your way of thinking. The addition of Twin Taoers (among a few others) to the keynote line up did just that. The Tao brothers shared with us a very clear mandate: that film be used to better mankind. Their work includes emotionally driven films for non-profits like Liberty in North Korea (LINK) with the goal to raise awareness and funds to allow these organizations to do their work.

Twin Taoers

What really struck a chord during their talk was this idea that filmmaking, and creativity more broadly, has the power to change the world because it makes people feel intensely. This talk really got us thinking about how we can use our craft to go beyond business and into something bigger than ourselves.

5. Dallas Taylor

Sound Design in Toronto

One thing we love about getting into a room with a bunch of creatives is being able to learn from people doing completely different things. One of the first breakout sessions we attended was with Dallas Taylor, creative director of sound design studio DeFacto Sound. His team has worked on everything from Netflix shows to video games to TV commercials, so they know a thing or two about making things sound good.

We’ve recently started to pay a lot more attention to the way our content sounds. Being visual people by default, it can be easy for filmmakers to forget sound, but doing so really sells your content short. Dallas made the point that if you’ve only got two of your audience’s senses to play with, sight and sound, you might as well do both well.

His session gave us some important things to think about when making choices about sound and gave some awesome of examples of how sound design can change a piece for the better. All in all, it was a great reminder to sit down and listen.

6. Taco Heads

Local Texas Beer in Fort Worth

With all of the brain power we were using to absorb the great keynotes and breakouts, we had to find a go-to spot to refuel. It didn’t take long for us to find this gem just outside of the conference grounds. Taco Heads is not your most authentic Mexican, but it sure is delicious. Whether you’re looking for a traditional pastor taco, or something with a Texas edge like brisket or bourbon black bean, this spot is sure to please.

They come armed with vegan and gluten free options and plenty of drool-worthy sides. Our favourite was the elotes, a side dish of creamy corn topped with cojita cheese. They also have a great selection of local Fort Worth and Dallas beers and of course imported Mexican beers too.

As we’ve come to realise is the norm in Texas, the staff were friendly and helpful, even after our 3rd appearance of the weekend.

7. Franklin Leonard

We were already feeling very inspired by Twin Taoers when Franklin Leonard walked onto the stage. Like us, most people in the room were excited to hear him talk about his website The Black List. Each year, they release a list of the industry’s best unproduced scripts, often breathing a second life into scripts that would eventually become successful films like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno.

Franklin made it clear, however, that he wasn’t here to tell us about his website. He had a bigger message to share with us. He asked us to challenge ourselves and question why we were creating what we were. Hollywood movies, he said, cost millions of dollars to make and that money could be going towards making humanity better. So, if a filmmakers work isn’t also aiming to do that, is it worth making?

Franklin Leonard

In 2018, the number of people of colour, women and members of the LGBTQ community whose films actually see the light of day is depressingly low. Franklin reminded us that giving the industry space to tell these stories was important and doing so would contribute to a better world and a better humanity.

In the midst of networking and picking up tips for our business and craft, it was refreshing, not to mention crucial, to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

8. Evolve

Another great thing about conferences is that you get to really take a temperature of your industry. It puts you in front of people who are aspiring to do what you do, doing what you do, or doing what you want to do.

We were really interested when we saw that production studio Evolve was hosting a breakout session. These guys have a lot of really great content on their roster and we wanted to take a peek behind the curtain.

The brother duo walked the group through the small beginnings and rise to success, and had valuable lessons they learned along the way.

The most valuable takeaway from their talk was to remember that a production company is a business first and foremost, and that businesses take sacrifice, hard work and patience. They also require you to bite your tongue, swallow your pride and remember that you need to serve your client in whichever way they need you.

9. Fort Worth Charm

No matter where we find ourselves for work, we always try to tack on some extra time to get a feel for the city. As soon as we got in our Uber from the airport, we asked our driver what we needed to see. His first recommendation was the Forth Worth Stockyards.

While it is arguably the most touristy part of the city, it’s definitely worth a visit.

At first glance, the long main drag looks like a set from an old Western movie, complete with a saloon and horse and buggies, and everywhere you look, there is an homage to cowboy culture.

The Stockyards in Fort Worth texas

From high-end leather goods shops to cattle drives to jerky emporiums to sunny patios, The Stockyards really has something for everyone. We spent the afternoon exploring the shops, ogling over huge longhorn bulls at the cattle drive and of course, indulging in some authentic Texas barbecue.

10. Southern Hospitality

Any time SVG travels, we try to meet a few locals to get a true sense of our surroundings. That couldn’t be easier in a place like Fort Worth. Every Uber driver and server was quick with a friendly welcome to the city and armed with local suggestions. We travel a fair bit for shoots and have to say that Fort Worth is at the top of our list in terms of people.

We had one question that we asked everyone: “Where is the best BBQ?” While the answers varied slightly, the top contender seems to be Heim. No matter the place, it was well known that you had to get there early to get the good stuff.

11. Northern Representation

We met a lot of folks at this conference, but shockingly none of our kin from North of the border. While we heard rumours of a few fellow Canadians in the crowd, unfortunately our paths did not cross.

Despite this, we were very pleased to have one of our own on the keynote stage on Friday evening. Jonathan Desbiens, JoDeb for short, is a French-Canadian director and filmmaker. Over the years, he’s created music videos for Skrillex, Imagine Dragons, Hasley and Zedd as well as commercials for Nike and Under Armour, among many others.

His success started from humble roots. As a teenage in his hometown in Quebec, JoDeb created “Jack-Ass” like skateboarding videos of him and his friends. This passion blossomed and skyrocketed him to success. Despite this, he’s managed to hold on to a traditionally Canadian self-deprecating humour.

We always love to see fellow Canucks in the spotlight.

If we could do anything differently, we’d probably want a little more time to network and meet industry folks. With so much to listen to and do, we were often hopping from one event to the next. We would have loved to have had more hands on workshops too.

All in all, we had a great time. The conference checked all the boxes for us and we can’t wait for next year.

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Madelaine Sawyers

Author Madelaine Sawyers

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