By LeAnn Dilbeck
No one can dispute the power of music. It has the power to communicate…subtly or dramatically. It can evoke emotion…joy, sadness, anxiety, or maybe even fear. But when you consider the impact it has when watching a show, or a film, or a documentary, it’s impact soars. Consider watching Jaws without the award winning film score by John Williams. Even Steven Spielberg credits Williams’ simple, yet brilliant, score with adding to the angst viewers experienced when watching the water.
One local musician can now add film score to his list of musical accomplishments. Jeremiah Brewer and his wife, Susan, own and operate Stephens Street Studios in Mena and most recently had the opportunity to score the music to a new 20-minute short film called The Good Neighbor. Released by Gem Stone Media, the short film is based on the Good Samaritan passage from the Gospel of Luke in chapter 10. It challenges us to think about both assumptions about other people, and our obligations to them.
The opportunity to score this film was brought about through a friendship made possible through the adoption of their son, Noah. Walt and Annie Manis, formerly of Mena, had also gone through adoption. The Manis’ now reside in Germany but the two couples got together when the Manis’ were in Mena to swap adoption stories so to speak. That’s when Walt learned about Jeremiah’s musical talents and decided to put him in connection with the director for The Good Neighbor.
Jeremiah said he began by sending them a sample of his work and once they agreed, although separated by the Atlantic Ocean and working nearly half a world apart, the two creative minds were able to collaborate through the use of today’s technology and transcend any geographical challenges.
Jeremiah said what hooked him from the beginning is that he learned quickly what meticulous professionals Gem Stone Media is and he appreciated their tremendous attention to detail. “If he didn’t like the way we bent a certain note, you went back and changed three seconds of music.”
The director would send finished scenes to Jeremiah with just notes to set the scene up and to explain the “feel.” It was then Jeremiah’s task to not only determine the notes and chords but the instruments and the pace of the music to help communicate the emotions of the scene. The director of the film would identify the specific sections of music or particular notes by time code so that Jeremiah could make final edits to the score. “We had to bridge the gap between the lines and sonically what that means.”
The film, while only 20 minutes in duration, is a representation of hours and months of work. “It’s my life’s passion,” said Jeremiah. “Music is suppose to serve and we strive for excellence so we can spend hours to get it just right.” His wife’s vocals, are also featured in the film, for just the right sound. “To make great art at the end of the day…it’s just hard work.”
Jeremiah said his love for music started at a very early age. He said he bought his first guitar and began teaching himself. “I practiced all the time and it became my life.” From there it evolved to different instruments and then he began writing his own music and decided he needed to have a way to record what he wrote.
When the couple returned to Mena in 2001 after being worship leaders at a small church in Arkadelphia, they invested in a Roland virtual studio and the studio has continued to evolve from there.
“I took a series of classes in Dallas at MaxiMedia Studios and became a certified Protools software engineer in 2005.” Four years later, the couple built their current recording studio off of their home on Stephens Street.
Never at that time, did Jeremiah dream his career would include film score but said he feels very blessed to have come into contact with so many talented artists that perform such a variety of music.
Stephens Street Studio produced The Crossing’s worship CD “All For You.” The couple also provide voice, piano, and guitar lessons. “Everything I make in the studio from recording artists, I put back into the studio investing in more equipment. I love recording my own music and also other people’s creations.”
Jeremiah said he has grown in many ways through being a musician and with every opportunity that has been bestowed upon him. “Each project is a welcome challenge and joy to me. I want my business to continue to grow and to begin doing film composing full time in the very near future.”