Conference screens 'August Rush'

The ninth annual Nashville Screenwriters Conference wrapped Sunday after three days and nearly 20 events designed, according to organizers, “to bridge Nashville and Hollywood” via panels, powwows, workshops — and lots of music.

Despite the woes of a global recording industry in decline and a local film and TV production community still battling for state financial incentives to make Tennessee competitive with other states, the Union Station conference center was packed and buzzing with attendees, who ranged from wannabes to seasoned pros.

Topics ranged from independent film finance to song plugging for film and TV. Latter discussion, held at the Country Music Hall of Fame, was one of the weekend’s highlights. Hosted by 821 Entertainment president Anastasia Brown, the session brought together Hollywood film and TV music pros Danielle Diego, creative affairs VP for Fox Music; Lionsgate music and publishing president Jay Faires; Playtone Records chief Deva Anderson; newly appointed DreamWorks Music supervisor Jennifer Hawks; and music bizzer Evyen Klean.

Panelists presented not just advice but also real-world business opportunities. After Anderson noted that “because the recording industry is in such a slump, label support and soundtrack revenues can’t be counted on anymore,” Hawks pointed out the silver lining.

“The reduced music budgets are actually good news for unsigned acts,” Hawks said, citing a recent example in which “one studio just cut a $75,000 cut from a film and replaced it with a $10,000 cut by a new artist who now has a song in a major film and a┬árecording contract as a result.”

That discussion preceded screenings of clips from still-in-production films and the reading of scenes from projects that were all in need of new songs, essentially creating an open audition for the songwriters and pluggers in attendance who were invited to submit their works.

Another packed room on Friday heard film pros sound off on both independent and studio co-financing and packaging. Panelists, led by moderator Steven Gaydos, Variety executive editor of features, included producers Irene Romero, Marty Bowen, John Hadity and Richard Barton Lewis. Earlier in the day, Lewis held a private screening of his music-centric romantic fable “August Rush,” which Warner Bros. will release in the fall. Pic, for which Brown was music supervisor, includes several songs and performances drawn from talents in the Nashville music community.

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