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Mike Dubue wants to compose you a ringtone (and score a silent film)

By Ryan Saxby Hill on April 23, 2013

Mike Dubue, former front-man of the Hilotrons, is trying his hand at another silent film.  You might remember these events happening at the Mayfair a while back.  This time Mike and a group of local musicians have rented out the ByTowne Cinema to present The Adventures of Prince Achmed with an original score.  They are looking for help in putting this event on and have created an indiegogo campaign where you can donate money in return for tickets and other pretty cool rewards.  Among the goodies offered to donors, Mike will compose you a ring tone, organize a house concert or teach you a composing workshop.  It’s all pretty awesome.  I sent Mike over a few questions to find out more about the film and what he had planned.

Apartment613: Take us back to 1926. How would this film would have been presented?

Mike Dubue: Ottawa. 1926. An entertainment mecca full of cinemas and theatres. We’re living in the silent film era, with little inclination towards the future of sound in cinema as “talkies” become more and more commonplace. Our cinematic experience relies on the three dimensional presentation of moving pictures with live music. A solo accompanist or music ensemble working out improvisations or tight cues with photoplay music, emphasizing the rhythm of the film as an art of movement.

Apartment613: Can you tell us a bit about the plot of the film? What do you find striking or interesting in the story?

MD: What I find striking about this film is the physical style of storytelling. Lotte Reiniger developed Silhouette animation, similar to Wuyang shadow puppets, though animated frame by frame. She created a unique visual experience through movement, rhythm, texture and tone to tell a story. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is based on 1001 Arabian Nights, specifically The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou.

Apartment613: You have some experience combining live music and film. What do you think music adds to a film? Do you have an approach to creating music for film?

MD: From project to project, the visuals direct the composing process and define the music as commentary or wallpaper. It can also be the other way around, but I personally prefer working off imagery, as it is a great surface to bounce around a wide variety of musical ideas. No matter what, I find this process to be super spontaneous and challenging, which are two ingredients that are important for me in creating music.

Apartment613: Who are you working with and what are they bringing to the project?

MD: I’m co-composing the score with my old friend Holger Schoorl. Holger is a classically trained guitarist who studied composition. He currently lives in Toronto, working as a composer and musician. The musicians I’ve called on for this production are people I’ve been playing music with for years or on a wide variety of projects. They are the best! Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde (Cello), Holger Schoorl (Classical Guitar), Paul Hogan (Electric Guitar), Alex Moxon (Electric Guitar), Adam Sakailey (Piano, Cybernetics), Rolf Klausener (Bass) and Philip Shaw Bova (Drums, Percussion). I’m also playing bass, vibraphone and piano.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed with Live Music will take place April 30 at the Bytowne Cinema.