Gil Talmi

Do you have a favorite movie or TV series? What’s one of the elements that you remember the most? You will probably say a moment, but the one thing we remember the most is the music that accompanies these moments of pain, happiness, comedy and horror. Throughout his life, Gil Talmi has been studying music composition for the movie and TV industry. Has has written for many shows, including JAG, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and A&E Biography. On June 3rd, Gil’s work will featured in the PBS’ Tales Of The Waria.  Gil reminds us that art has many different collaborators that play an important role in creating product that is shared by others.

1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I was born into a very musical family so I was bottle fed music from a very young age. I remember my fascination with music and imagery as a young child, way before knowing what a “film composer” was. We were living in Holland at the time. We had a Phillips black and white TV. I used to love turning off the sound and playing along on the piano to see how the sounds affected what was happening on screen. I also remember asking my mother to make up stories while she was cooking … you know, “a boy walking through the forest and a wolf appears”. I would play along in real time sometimes really scaring myself (and her). I only knew a handful of chords at the time so my knowledge was very limited; it was the exploration that mattered. I was interested in the emotional connection between sights and sounds. I guess I started scoring films at a very early age (way before the films actually existed). In a sense, I started scoring life itself; experiencing day-to-day events with a music score gently percolating in the background of my mind. This continues to this day, some of it actually to picture.

2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
A lot of trial and error. Maybe mostly error; falling and getting up again. It’s a strange concept, putting your creativity out into the world of“entertainment”. One has to develop a very thick skin while at the same time staying open to the creative flow. It can be quite contradictory at times. In retrospect, I think it has been a lot about patience, perseverance and a whole lot of self love (and humor) that have allowed me to be where I am today. It’s like tending a very tender garden (creativity) that needs constant nurturing while fending off and co-existing with the elements. After tending to this garden for enough time, you start noticing the trees growing even though you might not remember exactly when or how they were planted. There is something about the commitment to creative constancy that ultimately yields results, no matter what the temporary obstacle of the day may be. I see no difference between my creative journey and my journey as a human being slowly waking up to the beauty of this curious thing called life.

3) What do you need as an artist today?
Space, sanity, inspiration and kindness (call it love). I work on so many different types of projects, from big studio productions to smaller indie films, narrative as well as documentary. I also enjoy doing pro-bono work for non-profit organizations. While the subject matter differs, what all of these projects have in common is a certain quality of people. In recent years, I have come to realize that life is too short to surround oneself with drama and BS. I keep reminding myself that I am not saving babies here; I am just writing music for film. It is a real privilege to be able to do so. So the most important thing for me is to work with people who are on the same wavelength; grounded, sane and kind. Creativity comes from a free flow of energy between people. That is very hard to cultivate in an environment of negativity and judgement. There needs to be an open space in which ideas can flow freely. For me, inspiration comes from the subject matter as well as the human interaction surrounding it: both are absolutely necessary for the garden to flourish.

4) What creative project are you working on now?
I just finished scoring a narrative film called Savannah, starring Jim Caviezel, Sam Shepard, Bradley Whitford and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It was a wonderful experience recording the score with a union orchestra in Los Angeles; there is nothing like standing in front of a real orchestra hearing your music come to life! I am taking some time out this summer to finish some of my own creative projects … you know, “music for the sake of music”. I will be releasing more soundtrack CDs as well as some other music that I have been working on recently. In the fall, I will be  picking up again on film scoring with a few different projects including another PBS documentary and some indie films.

5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I love this question! I can see myself living in between NY and Israel; timesharing, if you will. I would like to score a handful of high-quality,socially-conscious films a year and dedicate the rest of my time to producing my own music and spending time with my family. I have had a lifelong dream of building a state-of-the-art studio somewhere in northern Israel where filmmakers from all over the world can come and have their films scored in an inspiring setting … blending in with nature. Filmmakers could take a few weeks away from the stress of post production and have a musical work vacation. I would also use the place to produce records with various artists from all walks of life. A good portion of my time will be dedicated to continue furthering socially-conscious projects beyond the world of film. In addition to this, I will continue growing my music-licensing company, konsonant ( Konsonant licenses music by artists from around the world to the film & TV industry, opening doors to countless creative opportunities. I will continue giving film music and creativity seminars at academic institutions and festivals worldwide as part of konsonant’s “Sounding Together” outreach program.

6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
Lately I have been feeling a strong calling to place my creativity in the service of positive social change in Israel. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is of grave concern to me, as it is to all of us. As a Jew, I feel compelled to draw on our long history of suffering throughout the ages and transpose suffering into empathy and compassion for others. It is really a theme and variation and if you ask me, that is what we have been “chosen” to do here. There are no winners or losers in the current conflict, only tremendous suffering and a mutual desire to be happy. As an Israeli artist, I believe it is my right as well as my duty to try to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between us and our cousins. Art can do this far better than politics. Unfortunately, so much of politics is based on division, whereas creativity comes from a place of unity and love for all living beings. For me it is not necessarily about creating in Israel or in Hebrew, although I love doing both. It is more about associating myself with creative projects that are working towards conflict resolution, knowing that this is the best way I can contribute to the wellbeing of my people and our neighbors. We really need each other to step out of this mess. We can do better; we have to!

7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
It seems that, everywhere you look these days, there are arts organizations folding. It is so sad and senseless when you think about it; what the world needs so desperately today are the arts to remind us of the aspirations and potential of the human spirit. The arts have served as a roadmap of sanity since the beginning of time by mirroring to us where we are in our human evolution; without the arts, we are essentially lost. There is a safe feeling in the knowledge that AICF is always out there, like some kind of modern-day fairy godmother for Israeli artists. It is way beyond any logistical support that AICF offers: it’s about the desire and willingness to simply exist … to be there for us at all times. I think it is quite unique and incredibly important. So thank you for continuing to be there and for allowing me this opportunity to share a bit about my journey so far.

Gil Talmi