Chicago Composer: Joel Michalak

SHORT FILM: What Kind of Man


COMPOSER:  Joel Michalak


DESCRIPTION:  A “COMPOSER” is a person who creates original music specifically to accompany a film. The score forms part of the film’s soundtrack, which also usually includes dialogue and sound effects, and comprises a number of orchestral, instrumental, or choral pieces called cues, which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question.

Hi everyone and thanks for joining us here at Exposing the Crew: A Place for Chicago-made Short Films!

This weeks ETC HIGHLIGHT focuses on the music score of the short documentary film, What Kind of Man. A great audible example of how a well done composition can allow a film to speak without anything actually being said. Immediately I want to point out the fact that the score was not only written by, but also PERFORMED by our highlighted composer, Joel Michalak.

Composers are often multi-faceted musicians who strum, hum, swing, and tap endless instruments. Their multiple musical skills provide them the “paint” they need to compose the hearable masterpiece.

There are different methods of how composers work on a score. Some watch the film without any music, while others will listen to the temp music that the Editor included in the edit so that they can experience the vibe the Editor was establishing. Regardless of their exact method, musical scores are created in skillful collaboration with the the Director and Creative Producers of the project.

The Composer utilizes the power of music to create the vibes, moods, and emotions of each moment. What Kind of Man starts its score with a combat style “march” as the films subject monologues, “It’s just real combat style, just one on one, I think I’m a better man than you and I’m gonna prove it.” (1:30), shifts into a slow guitar picking as the subject meets his devastating conflict (3:35), and ends with a light jingle that sets the positive tone of the films climax (7:48). The music tells the viewer what direction their hearts need to head during the next leg of the film.

We’d like to thank Joel for his fantastic work on this film and we look forward to hearing more from him. Be sure to reach out to us at ETC if you would like to get in touch with Joel Michalak to learn more about his work.

Thank you Midwest Film Festival for sending this film our way. Check out future festivals submissions and dates for the Midwest Film Festival on their website!

Thank you for watching this week’s “EXPOSED” short film, and reading our blog Exposing the Crew: A Place for Chicago-made Short Films!

See You Next Tuesday,

Justin Jackola (Director at JJack Productions)

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