Matt Marshall: Reel Music

Matt Marshall is a Screenwriter, Film Lecturer and composer. He teaches courses on film criticism and history at the University of Virginia and Hollins University. Marshall has been composing and performing live music accompaniment to classic silent films for over 15 years now with the Virginia Film Festival and other venues throughout Virginia.

I saw my very first silent film, Lon Chaney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) around the same time I saw the first music videos on MTV back in 1981, 82.  In fact, the music video for Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure, features footage from Nosferatu, the film I will be performing music to on Saturday, October 14th at the Bridge. To me, Silent film was just a much longer music video and the perfect marriage of images and music. I was hooked from that moment on and shortly after I sat at my father’s piano and picked up his guitar and started making things up.

It is hard to believe but the first 30 years of Cinema were silent and the only sounds accompanying the screen were those of live musicians. In that sense it was much more of a theatrical experience. Each town’s theater and each night’s performance would be a little different depending on the music and musicians. This collective and ephemeral experience is something I am passionate about bringing back to today’s audiences. We are all so busy and it seems people are drifting farther apart. I am truly grateful to the Bridge and the invitation of artist Matthew Gatto for allowing me to bring my love of film and music to contemporary audiences. It is both a glimpse into the past and an experience that will, I hope, help people become more present.