The documentary film Punches and Streamers: The Making of a Film Score follows Berklee film scoring students and Professor Sheldon Mirowitz as they create their new score for the classic Harold Lloyd silent comedy Safety Last!, and prepare for its premiere at the Coolidge Corner Theater, and encore performance at the Emerson / Cutler Majestic Theater for First Night Boston.
Punches and Streamers was created by students in Emerson College’s MFA in Media Art program, under the direction of filmmaker and Emerson Associate Professor Marc Fields. Prof. Fields is a five-time Emmy winner for his public television programs on the arts and humanities. Among his music films are: Give Me the Banjo, narrated by Steve Martin, and Willie the Lion, the story of legendary jazz pianist Willie the Lion Smith.
Written, produced and directed by Marc Fields
Edited by Tahirah Foy
Special thanks to Lee Pelton, Brooke Knight, Keith Tomlinson, Bonnie Baggesen and ArtsEmerson.
Safety Last! (1923) is widely considered one of the most enduring silent film classics of all time. The film features the acclaimed comedic genius Harold Lloyd and boasts an iconic image of cinematic history — that of Lloyd dangling from a giant clock on the side of a building, high above a bustling Los Angeles street. Lloyd, who joins the ranks of silent screen comic greats Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (and actually led the pack as the biggest box office star), navigated his own hilarious and daring stunt work. The result is a quintessential motion picture treasure, added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and meticulously preserved for decades by the Harold Lloyd estate.
The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) is dedicated to composing new, original scores for silent feature classics, and performing them live-to-picture. Based at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, in the world’s only undergraduate degree program in film scoring, the student orchestra composes its new works, and performs as an ensemble, under the leadership of Professor of Film Scoring and three-time Emmy nominee Sheldon Mirowitz (Outside Providence, Missing in America). The recipient of a special commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the BSFO has also performed in the new Nantucket Dreamland Theater, Boston’s historic Emerson / Cutler Majestic Theatre, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Sounds of SilentsTM program was launched in 2007 with a mission to present classic silent cinema on the big screen accompanied by a live original score and performed by outstanding musicians. Since 2010 the Coolidge’s Sounds of SilentsTM initiative has commissioned seven original compositions from Berklee College of Music, with premiere presentations including F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise and Faust, Clarence Badger’s It, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality, E.A. Dupont’s Piccadilly, and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! The unique collaboration between the Coolidge and Berklee expands on the Sounds of SilentsTM initiative, providing funds to commission the compositions and an opportunity to engage students in the process of creating a silent film score.