Former Variety Employee Wins Music Award
Throughout his career as Creative Director for Variety’s Home Entertainment Group, Don Bodin’s heart remained firmly hitched to music. The Illinois native had moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film scoring, however finding an entry into the business proved more challenging than he anticipated. He fell back on his graphic skills, a development he cultivated out of prior necessity in college.
“Most of my friends in college were art students and I’d goof around creating things with them,” said Bodin. “I discovered the art lab was in need of a tutor for Photoshop and Quark, and I knew enough about the programs and was able to land the tutoring job.”
Bodin’s creative tendencies emerged from very technical beginnings. His father was employed by the Federal Aviation Commission. Bodin would build computers with his father for fun, and recalls spending two to three days developing a program code as a youth. While he was acquiring the tools that would make learning graphic programs a breeze, Bodin was also developing an interest in music. He’d turn down the television’s volume and craft scores on a Casio keyboard. When he was twelve he began playing guitar by studying chords and learning Beatles songs. He played the euphonium in high school band, joined chorus, and learned jazz guitar for stage band. Upon graduation, he was armed with a full scholarship for classical guitar at Millikin University and the desire to work in the music industry.
Throughout his twenties, Bodin kept his musical talents in tune by performing in pit orchestras, concert bands, dance halls and assorted venues. He also joined a band called “File Under Water” that performed an experimental blend of pop, rock and electronic music. After recording their first album, File Under Water did some regional touring, and rose to #27 on Amazon’s Emerging Artist list. While Bodin enjoyed his time on the road with the band, he was longing to reconnect with his career path. After performing with the band at a sold out show in 1999, Bodin decided to move to L.A.
“I thought I could use use the success I had in Chicago to my advantage, but I found it didn’t really mean a lot,” said Bodin. “I did research but found no real path. It’s easier for kids studying scoring or production in school to get into jobs, but I couldn’t afford to go back to school.”
Bodin focused on his graphic skills to make ends meet while he developed a plan to escalate his music career. He devoted two to three hours every morning prior to his Variety job writing and recording music. By 2006 he released an album on iTunes that was created specifically to illustrate his film/TV scoring abilities, and began using the album as a calling card. As he built connections, Bodin became noticed in the commercial world. To date, he has worked with agencies including Saachii & Saachi as well as large corporations, such as Yamaha Motors, to score commercials. He approaches the short format as he would an in-depth narrative story.
“It’s just like filmmaking, you have to ask yourself what the story is, or how you are seeing the story,” said Bodin. “Sometimes there is a specific melody, other times, the story may be in the choice of instrumentation. Maybe what works best is a hip hop drum beat and a cello playing classical music. There is always a theme, but it may not always be melodic.”
The years Bodin spent working with assorted bands and orchestral groups has trained his ear to recognize the sounds specific instruments make. He strives to provide these authentic sounds in his recordings, playing the instruments himself from his abundant collection, or hiring others who excel on the needed accompaniment.
This past November, Bodin received the award for Best Score for a Commercial Advertisement (Toyota Verso 2013) at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. He was thrilled to receive the honor and be recognized by his peers. The award has fueled his creative intent.
“Over the last year, I haven’t had music directly recorded for film, but have had music licensed for film and film branding (including libraries for trailers). I’ve also done some scoring for low budget films,” said Bodin. “I just finished an exciting project where I created music for an app available at the iTunes store called ‘Art and Skin.’ It provided some new ways to incorporate music into the app, for instance, what the sound should be when a user swipes the page.”
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