Gavin DeGraw, We Hardly Heard You

When Musicians Act Like Big Pianists

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The nice folks at the Sundance Tribeca Film Festival and Edelman Studios held a panel discussion last night on short films. Up-and-coming short filmmakers (some of whom are surprisingly tall) in attendance received some good advice from Oaut Media's Jennifer Chen, Shorts International's Linda Olszewski, Matter's Andy Marks, Atom Films' Megan O'Neill and Bill Plympton (who apparently has an excellent feature at Sundance). One of the big takeaways from the panel, titled "Beyond YouTube: Understanding the Opportunities for Short Films," was makers of short films need to learn how to market themselves -- and one way to do that is to not give your work away by throwing stuff up on YouTube.

Mr. Plympton touched a bit on the Catch-22 nature of YouTube (the accomplished animator said he's made sure all his work is off the video site): Filmmakers want to have their work seen and get discovered, but how can you get discovered if your work isn't seen? One solution, everyone agreed, was to put up a clip or a trailer on YouTube and drive traffic to a website where the full work can be presented and, hopefully, eventually, licensed so filmmakers can be paid for their work. The other big piece of advice: Be professional. And clear your music.

Which brings us to the after-party, held in a very tastefully appointed room on the 23rd floor of 101 Sixth Avenue in SoHo. A stage was set up with a piano and a couple of guitars for the surprise musical guest, Gavin DeGraw, he of the licensed songs to CW fodder such as "One Tree Hill." For whatever reason (open bar? sliders?) everyone continued enjoying their conversations as Mr. DeGraw was introduced. The crowd was nice enough to applaud when he took the stage and sat at the piano, nice enough to whip out iPhones for a couple of pics, and nice enough to, well, ignore him. If you're songwriting skills are basically good background music to teen dramas, then you should probably expect people to treat your tunes like background music.

At any rate, Mr. DeGraw didn't seem pleased that he'd been tuned out, so midway through his second song (or maybe at the end of the song, I wasn't really listening) our accomplished singer-songwriter, not feeling the love, mumbled something along the lines of "OK, that's it," bade us goodnight and walked off the stage. I'd like to say people were shocked, stunned, appalled. Instead there was a collective "Meh," and they all went back to their conversations.

There's probably a lesson here about how one should market himself or herself, about the appropriateness of where one's content is on display, about being a professional. Probably.
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