One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about moviemaking is incorporating pictures with music and this was especially true for The Oak Park Story. Because of its story about Latino and Cambodian tenants banding together, I was able to include tunes by both Asian American and Latino artists, including some homegrown Oakland musicians.
I was ably aided by the film’s music supervisor and composer Camilo Landau, who was a student of mine when I taught a high school film class at the School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco back in the nineties. I’d asked for music recs from my friend and fellow filmmaker Gustavo Vasquez and he mentioned Camilo, who’d scored Gustavo’s most recent movie, Que Viva La Lucha (Wrestling in Tijuana). Of course I remembered Camilo from SOTA and was happy to find that he’d grown up to become a successful musician and composer, with his combo Carne Cruda as well as as a session player for many local recordings. Camilo gave me a big stack of CDs and steered me toward appropriate tunes for the film. An added bonus was that Camilo now lives in Oakland and was able to suggest several other Oakland-based musicians to consider. Of the multitude of tracks he suggested I picked songs from Carne Cruda (Anarcho-Syndicalism) and Fuga (Boulevard Internacional), as well as some of Camilo’s own original compositions, all of which appear on The Oak Park Story’s soundtrack.
Through other acquaintances I was able to get in touch with Long Beach-based Cambodian American rapper Prach, who sent me some tracks to preview from his latest CD release. Prach’s an excellent composer and producer as well as an outstanding rapper and I was able to include two of his songs in the Oak Park soundtrack. I also downloaded Ulysses, the latest release from San Francisco folk-rocker Goh Nakamura, and from that I picked Telemachus, an instrumental track that ended up on the soundtrack.
I had a great time choosing the songs for the movie and I think they really enhance the film and make it pop. Because the subject matter was so intercultural it gave me a huge range of music to select from–it was also fun trying to find tunes that were Oakland-centric, too, and that reflected community activism and the film’s theme of empowerment and self-determination. Most of all I just liked working on the interplay between sound and image, which to me is one of the most subtle and pleasurable aspects of the filmmaking process.