About this project
If you watched television, went to the movies, or listened to the radio in the 80s and 90s, you've probably heard Suzanne Ciani's work, whether you knew it or not. Suzanne is a five-time Grammy award nominated composer, electronic music pioneer, and neo-classical recording artist whose work has been featured in countless commercials, video games, and feature films. A self-taught pianist with classical music training from The Longy School of Music and Wellesley College, Suzanne discovered electronic music in the late 60s and quickly became immersed in the male-dominated worlds of sound synthesis and computer music. Differentiating herself from contemporaries like Brian Eno, Giorigio Moroder, and Klaus Schulze, Suzanne created sensual, feminine sounds that pulsed and flowed, with textures more akin to ocean waves than to the dark atmosphere common in early electronic music. With her instrument of choice, the Buchla modular synthesizer, Suzanne revolutionized the advertising industry, and her sounds were featured in spots for General Electric, ABC, and AT&T, amongst many others. Perhaps her most famous piece, the Coca-Cola "Pop n' Pour" sound effect, was featured in hundreds of Coca-Cola commercials throughout the 70s and 80s. In the 90s, Suzanne transitioned from synthesizers back to the piano and formed her own record label, Seventh Wave. Over the course of her 30+ year career, she's released 15 solo albums, including "Seven Waves," "The Velocity of Love," "Turning," the Grammy Award nominated "Neverland," and most recently, the electronic retrospective, "Lixiviation." She's been recognized as Keyboard Magazine's "New Age Keyboardist of the Year," provided the voice and sounds for Bally's groundbreaking "Xenon" pinball machine, played concerts all over the globe, and carved out a niche as one of the most creatively successful female composers in the world.
A Life in Waves will be a biographical look at Suzanne’s dynamic and colorful career, from her earliest days learning the piano, to her multi-million dollar advertising ventures, to her innovations in the world of New Age music, to her recent connection with Finders Keepers records and re-acquaintance with her beloved Buchla synthesizer. More than this, the film will be a journey into Suzanne's mind, offering a feminine glimpse into the often-complicated worlds of composition, electronic music, and advertising. Utilizing a wealth of archival footage and Suzanne’s endless catalog of music, we'll create a nostalgic, visually-compelling look at one woman's journey, and the trials she had to overcome to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated art form.
Now in her sixties, Suzanne reflects on her life from her home on the beach, recalling a turbulent time in the 1960s, when a rapidly changing culture gave way to creative movements like electronic music. It was also during this time that she met and worked with Don Buchla, a man she calls "the consummate designer of electronic instruments." Flash forward a few years and she remembers herself in New York, sleeping on friend Philip Glass's floor, going from studio to studio with her blinking, metal machine in tow, searching for an opportunity to record her music. A hugely successful advertising venture would follow, along with a bout with breast cancer, several Grammy nominations, concerts across the globe, the establishment of her own record label, and a retreat to the coast of Northern California where she finds herself today. Despite the ups and downs, Suzanne reflects on these events with an ever-romantic, often philosophical tone, always connecting the waves in her music to the waves in her life.
We've started digging through Suzanne's archives, and have converted several of her analog tapes to digital, but there's still so much to do! We're hoping to raise a minimum of $38,500 through Kickstarter to assist with the initial major production costs of the film. We will utilize every dollar donated to complete the film, from initial travel, to filming, to post production. Some of the larger expenses are as follows:
Production: This includes cinematography, sound recording, equipment rental, and any other fees incurred during the production.
Travel: A large portion of our production costs relate to travel. We'll travel to Suzanne's home in Northern California, spend time filming with her, and follow her to a piano concert in a yet-to-be-determined location in the United States. Costs include flight, accommodations, car rental and gas.
Post-Production: This includes editing, sound design/mix, and color grading.
Graphics: We'll commission motion graphics artists and animators to create stunning graphics to accompany Suzanne's descriptions of sound and synthesizer functions.
If you're able to pledge, we'd love to have you as a part of the film. But even if you can't, you can help us out by spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media. You can click the links below to share right now.
Brett has directed three feature documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. His second feature, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling premiered at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in 2012, was named Best Documentary at Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, awarded Audience Choice Best Documentary at Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival, and won the Grand Jury Award at the Gasparilla International Film Festival.
Bradford has written, edited, and scored three feature documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. He's also provided music and editing for a number of short documentaries, and has maintained a successful commercial career, editing content for Time Inc., and Travel + Leisure Magazine.
Mark Ramos Nishita (aka Money Mark) is a producer and musician who has collaborated with the Beastie Boys on every album since 1992's "Check Your Head." He has released several solo albums and has worked with everyone from David Byrne, to The Rolling Stones, to Lee “Scratch” Perry. Mark recently performed with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in "Stop the Virgens;" a psycho pop opera at the Sydney Opera House.
Amy is a filmmaker who has been involved in several award-winning and commercially successful films. For her, story is king, and she loves to tell interesting stories in a compelling way, whether that be via documentary or narrative form. Amy is the producer of Holy Rollers, which won over 10 best documentary awards and sold to Warner Bros. Among other projects that are currently in production, she recently signed on to produce a 30 for 30 episode for ESPN.
Lawrence is an award-winning sound editor and re-recording mixer specializing in documentary films. His past work includes 45365 (Independent Sprit Award, Grand Jury SXSW), Tchoupitoulas (Grand Jury Ashland, Hot Docs Emerging Artist Award), Fight Church (Grand Jury Boston), Caucas (AFI Docs Closing Night Film), in addition to collaborating with Brett and Brad on their previous projects: GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas. A Mill Valley native himself, he is looking forward to working within the audio-rich environment of Suzanne Ciani and everything she has brought to the world of music and sound.
Ali is an award-winning motion graphics designer and cinematographer with an extensive commercial resume. Currently working at Big Communications (2013 AdAge Small Agency of the Year Southeast Gold), she’s also created work for Time Inc., SouthernLiving.com, CookingLight.com, Whole Foods, Kraft, and Publix. She received a Southeast Regional EMMY Award nomination for her stop-motion title sequence on Alabama Public Televisions’s "Journey Proud." She also directed and animated the titles for the documentary Skanks (Slamdance 2014) and provided additional photography and graphics for the documentary, County Fair, Texas.
Brett Whitcomb and Bradford Thomason have collaborated on three feature-length documentaries, including The Rock-afire Explosion, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and County Fair, Texas.
The Rock-afire Explosion, a film that chronicles the rise and fall of Showbiz Pizza Place, played at over thirty film festivals worldwide and received extensive media coverage, including articles in Spin magazine, VH-1’s Best Week Ever blog, USA Today: Pop Candy, Film Threat, and Wired magazine.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling tells the story of the first-ever all female wrestling show on television. GLOW premiered at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in 2012, played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles, New York, and London, and was awarded Best Documentary at Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, and Audience Choice Best Documentary at Sidewalk Moving Picture Film Festival. GLOW also received universal praise, with write-ups in /Film, The Village Voice, Gawker, and LA Weekly. The film was also sold for television distribution to MTV/VIACOM networks, and is currently available for viewing on Netflix.
Brett and Bradford's latest film, County Fair, Texas, is an observational documentary that explores a year in the lives of four kids from rural Texas as they raise animals to show at a local county fair. The film was recently submitted to festivals world-wide.
Risks and challenges
From development, to completion, to reaching a wide audience, there are always risks associated with producing an independent film. With three feature documentaries under our belts, we embark on A Life in Waves with experience and an earned understanding of production and distribution. As with our previous films, we plan to submit A Life in Waves to film festivals all over the world, and will seek global digital and television distribution.
We want to finish this film as soon as we possibly can, but there may be production delays along the way because of interview scheduling and Suzanne's tour schedule.
This may in turn delay the expected delivery for rewards. If this happens, we will be sure to update our backers every step of the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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