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Film composer is renaissance man

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Composer Jeffrey Gold is director of marketing for the Park City Film Music Festival, now in its second year.

Composer Jeffrey Gold is director of marketing for the Park City Film Music Festival, now in its second year.

Jeffrey Gold

Jeffrey Gold would be the first to admit that losing your job can have some positive consequences.

Gold was working as an engineer when he was laid off in October 2001. When he suddenly found himself with a great deal of free time on his hands, Gold was able to devote his energy and full attention to something that has always been a passion with him — making movies.

"I would love to spread the word around to let yourself get downsized," Gold said. "It's allowed me to devote more time to the things I love to do."

However, there is also a downside to being downsized. "I'm not denying that there is a difficult financial aspect to losing your job," Gold said. "In order to pursue your goals as an artist, you need to cut down your expenses to a minimum."

He has done that, and he doesn't regret anything. "Unless you're very fortunate, you need to make a decision between money and time. And time is more important for me."

Gold teaches film and screenwriting at Salt Lake City College. He is also now the director of marketing for the Park City Film Music Festival, which is currently in full swing. "That's just a big way of saying I'm promoting the festival and helping out with the connections I have."

He became involved with the festival last year, after submitting his film "Abby Singer." "Paul Wood, the executive producer, had found out about this brand-new festival. I had never seen a film-music festival before, and it was right in our back yard.

"We sent the film in, and it ended up winning the jury-choice award for its score."

The Park City Film Music Festival, which is now in its second year, is the first of its kind in the United States and quite possibly in the world. And Gold feels the festival has a great deal of untapped potential.

"It's going to be big. Not as big as Sundance, because of its limited audience, but it has the potential to make an impact. And it's also going to expand to other things, too."

Gold's background is about as far removed from filmmaking as possible. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Utah, publishing eight papers while an undergraduate. He later went to Cambridge, England, for further studies in physics.

It was a class Gold took shortly before graduating that fired up his creative instincts. "I took a film class while I was finishing up at the U., and I caught the bug, as they say."

Gold is a renaissance man. In addition to producing films, he is also a screenwriter and composer. He co-wrote the love song and end-title song of "Abby Singer" with his friend, fellow composer/singer/songwriter Paul Luscher.

Among his other music credits, Gold composed the main theme for the Ken Verdoia-produced documentary "Promontory," which aired on KUER-TV in 2002, which he said was a wonderful experience. "Ken Verdoia has such an excellent reputation in the film community. Having my music chosen moved me up to the next level. And it's just another indication that I've got to work harder."

Gold admitted that he continually pushes himself. "You never stop learning. You need to improve your craft and interact with people, especially those who are better at their craft than you are."

Self-taught as a musician — except for a few lessons when he was around 10 — Gold has an inquisitive nature, which he says has helped him tremendously. "I have to find out things for myself. I need to try everything out myself."

It wasn't until he was a student at the U. that Gold started dabbling in music. "I had a friend who studied music. He had some music equipment at his house, and I started playing around on his electronic piano. . . . I used one finger to play the piano, and I was hitting all the right keys."

While attending the U. film class, Gold decided to do the score for one of his student films. "What I wrote worked for me. I found the right tone for the film."

Gold said he grew up surrounded by classical music. "The influence of classical music in our house was very strong. My father is a singer, and he had all the great works at home."

One of those works, which made a deep impression on him as a boy, was Gustav Holst's "The Planets." Gold said that he was always attracted to music with a powerful visual element. "The pieces that I really tap into aren't music for music's sake, but works that have a cinematic quality. I respond to that."

Gold said he doesn't really consider himself a composer so much as "a film composer. I have an instinct for knowing what works or doesn't work. I feel I can make a contribution as a film composer."

If you go

What: The Park City Film Music Festival

Where: Screening Room, Park City Main Street Mall (333 Main), and Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah

When: Through Jan. 30

How much: $10 per film, $30 for an all-day pass ($5 for students at U. screenings)

Phone: 435-649-5309


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