Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Aug 14, 2020 at 10:00 am – Aug 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm


Please note: Due to COVID-19, UnionDocs workshops are being held remotely, over video conference.

We’ve restructured the experience to optimize this format, offering a functional rhythm and pace, while continuing the strong combination of theory, practice, expert feedback and community that participants love.

I feel that music on the screen can seek out and intensify the inner thoughts of the characters. It can invest a scene with terror, grandeur, gaiety, or misery. It can propel narrative swiftly forward, or slow it down. It often lifts mere dialogue into the realm of poetry. Finally, it is the communicating link between the screen and the audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one single experience.” – Bernard Herrmann (Composer: Psycho, Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver)

A scene can be transformed through the prism of music composition, taking a two-dimensional vérité moment into a sonic portrait – this added depth can make all the difference when connecting with an audience. Music has the ability to channel our most visceral emotions through pacing, style and genre, and yet filmmakers are often wary of a soundtrack’s potential to overwhelm with emotional projection. A film’s soundtrack encompasses music, sound design and diegetic sound. These elements are often thought as separate, but what world could a film build if they were considered holistically? How can filmmakers use soundtracks to support a film’s vision without overshadowing the narrative?  What opportunities are missed when we play it safe? 

Sonic Portraits: Music In Film  will be led by composer and editor Troy Herion (306 Hollywood, The Hottest August, Bulletproof), whose body of work has been the marriage of contemporary music and visual arts. It will delve into music as a key component of a soundtrack, often heightening other sonic elements. Participants will build upon their language of music composition and the soundtrack in pursuit of creating bold and innovative films.

We will cover the process of making original soundtracks, working in collaboration with composers and adapting references from sonic abstractions and sound design – allowing for both creative and practical takeaways. Real-time scoring of participant’s own selected scenes, and the dissection of scenes and soundtracks will direct participants towards understanding how music and images create meaning – experimenting with new possibilities. We will investigate numerous uses of  the soundtrack, ranging from a tool for legibility or dialog support, to more expansive uses, evoking meaning beyond words. 

A host of accomplished guest collaborators from music supervisors, directors, and editors  will help to establish a productive vocabulary towards answering the question – how do we talk about music in films? Guest artists include composer Nathan Halpern (Minding The Gap, One Child Nation) who will share his practice and process of scoring both fiction and nonfiction films. Music and sound editor llghtchlld (Sorry To Bother You,  Rolling Stones: Stories from the Edge) will cover what it’s like to work intimately throughout the process of creating a soundtrack; editing, compiling, and synching, and more. Artist Rashid Zakat (Revival!, BlackStar Film Festival) offers participants the opportunity to step out of the here-and-now and virtually tap into what is not-yet-here – through audio-visual exercises. Speaking from the perspective of a director/ editor, filmmaker Meredith Lackey (Cablestreet) will share how one uses a soundtrack as a structuring and conceptual device, guiding the edit. Veteran music supervisor Barry Cole ( Who Killed Malcolm X, Founder of Spot Music) will dive deep into how a filmmaker builds out a soundtrack with licensed music.

Sonic Portraits: Music In Film invites all filmmakers, directors, producers, editors, and sound professionals interested in soundtracks. A background in music or sound is not needed.


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, editors, journalists, artists, editors, and sound professionals interested in soundtracks. A background in music or sound is not needed.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).

$295 early bird registration by August 10th, 2020 at 6PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until Monday, August 10th. After August 10th the fee is non-refundable.

As this is an online workshop, participants must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of August 10th,  course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, August 14th, – 10:00a - 4:00p

Introduction & Welcome with Troy Herion 

AM: Presentation and discussion with Troy Herion 

PM: Participant Works-In-Progress

Saturday, August 15th – 10:00a - 4:00p

AM: Presentation and Discussion with Meredith Lackey

PM: Presentation and Discussion with Barry Cole

Friday, August 21st – 10:00a - 4:00p

AM: Presentation and Discussion with Nathan Halpern

PM: Presentation and Discussion with Rashid Zakat

Saturday, August 22nd– 10:00a - 4:00p

AM: Presentation and Discussion with llghtchlld 

PM: Participant Work-In-Progress

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Share / Discussion / Exercise




Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Wrap Up!


Troy Herion is a composer, editor, and producer. He has scored multiple award-winning films including 306 Hollywood, The Hottest August, Bulletproof, Born to Be, The Disrupted, The Dog, and Mountain Fire Personnel, which have premiered at major festivals including Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, HotDocs, Tribeca, MoMA, NYFF, and True/False. 

A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Herion is a scholar of visual music (Princeton University PhD fellow). His primary focus is uniting contemporary music with visual arts through film, theater, dance, and concert music. Herion has collaborated extensively with choreographers and theater companies producing works performed at Carnegie Hall, The Academy of Music, and The Annenberg Center among others. Recent commissions include Archiva for The Pennsylvania Ballet and A Period of Animate Existence, for Pig Iron Theatre Co. featuring 100 performers including the Grammy-winning Crossing Choir, and a sentient halal cart. 

Herion composes and directs visual-music films. Baroque Suite and New York: A City Symphony have been called “marvelous” by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross and were featured on MTV and The New York Times. He also composes music for museums and companies including The Whitney, MoMA, The Getty, Google, and Lego among others.

Influenced by Japan’s fantastical futurism and New York City’s gritty art-music scene, llghtchlld’s music is a synesthetic swirl of sound. Her artistry in music production merges with her performance art with zest and passion, manifesting as a complete vision.

Née, Mitsuko Alexandra Yabe and raised in Japan, llghtchlld grew up between two worlds. Her music career began with the study of classical violin under the tutelage of Roberta Guaspari and Lynelle Smith of Opus 118 Harlem School of Strings. She achieved remarkable success at a young again, performing for Quincy Jones, President Obama, with the NY Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Having strong visual aesthetics, llghtchlld has collaborated with film directors and composers on several soundtracks as a music editor, including Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You (2018), Radha Blank’s” Forty Year Old Version (2020) and Lena Waithe’s Beauty (2020) coming to Netflix soon. Her work with major studios include, Warner Brothers New Line Cinema, Universal Studios, HBO and many of her independent films have featured in Sundance Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and American Black Film Festival. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG). She is the founder & CEO of LIGHTCHILD STUDIOS, a music & motion picture-focused creative studio developing her original projects in immersive art and animation.

Barry Cole is the bold, influential music supervisor and founder of Spot Music, who has contributed his talents to a broad diversity of elite films and television shows including The Chi, American Psycho, The New Edition Story, Super Troopers, Brown Sugar, The Mind of a Chef, and All The Pretty Horses. Throughout his far-ranging career in entertainment, Barry has executed numerous projects in the realms of media production, soundtrack A&R, and music publishing. In 2003, Barry and Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, were nominated for a “Best Compilation for Visual Media” award at the Grammys for their meticulous work on Marley, the authorized documentary of beloved music icon and social activist, Bob Marley. Barry’s limitless knowledge of obscure music and insatiable curiosity for technological innovation position him as one of the most valuable, forward-thinking experts in the business. In our thought provoking conversation, Barry reveals how he cultivated a disciplined devotion to his craft and offers perspectives on the new music industry.

Nathan Halpern is an Emmy-nominated composer, named one of Indiewire’s ‘Composers to Watch.’ He is the composer behind two of the most acclaimed films of 2018: The Cannes-winning narrative feature THE RIDER (Sony Pictures Classics) and the Oscar-nominated documentary feature MINDING THE GAP (HULU). The films won Best Picture and Best Documentary respectively from the NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS AWARDS, and were each featured on Barack Obama’s list of the best films of 2018.

Halpern’s score for THE RIDER was featured at #3 in Vulture/New York Magazine’s 10 BEST MOVIE SCORES OF 2018, and was described as “a plaintively lovely score” (LA TIMES) and “a beautiful score” (SCREEN ANARCHY). The score for MINDING THE GAP was nominated for a Cinema Eye Award for Best Musical Score. It was described as an “achingly beautiful score” (WALL STREET JOURNAL) and “melancholy perfection” (VULTURE/NEW YORK MAGAZINE).

Halpern recently scored the acclaimed psychological thriller SWALLOW (starring Haley Bennett / Tribeca Film Festival 2019), the social realist fairy tale GOLDIE (starring Slick Woods / VICE FILMS / 20th Century Fox), and the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner ONE CHILD NATION, coming to theaters this summer via AMAZON STUDIOS. Other notable scores include the Timothee Chalamet and Kiernan Shipka-starring supernatural thriller ONE AND TWO (IFC Films / Berlinale), which Variety called “hauntingly scored;” the Slick Woods-starring urban fable GOLDIE (Vice Films / Berlinale 2019), the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner RICH HILL (“one of the best scores we’ve heard in years” – Indiewire); the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (HBO Films); and the 2017 Oscar-shortlisted films HOOLIGAN SPARROW and THE WITNESS.

Four films scored by Nathan Halpern were recently nominated for 2018 Emmys: WHAT HAUNTS US (STARZ); THE WITNESS; JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD (NETFLIX); and ABORTION: STORIES WOMEN TELL (HBO FILMS.) He was recently nominated for a HOLLYWOOD MUSIC IN MEDIA AWARD for Best Original Song for “Calling to Me” from ONE PERCENT MORE HUMID (Sony Pictures), starring Juno Temple and Julia Garner.

His music has accompanied in new dance works by the London Royal Ballet and the New English Ballet Theater (London). He was commissioned to create ‘1913’ a three hour-music performance/installation presented by Halpern at The Armory in New York City, commemorating the first International Exhibition of Modern Art.

Meredith Lackey is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her films have screened at film festivals including New York, Ann Arbor, Edinburgh, and Marseille. She received a BA in philosophy and media production from Hampshire College and an MFA in moving image from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently developing her first feature documentary, situated at the intersection of technology, politics, and war.

Rashid Zakat is a filmmaker and artist based in Philadelphia. He uses video, photography, design, audio and the web to encourage people to find as much beauty, joy and wonder as possible. Professionally Rashid has a 15 year long career as a director and cinematographer for non-fiction, experimental films and music videos. He has done work for India.Arie, Carmelo Anthony, Black Thought, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, BlackStar Film Festival, Soul Train, Topic, WHYY, Philadelphia Contemporary, Mural Arts, Rashaad Newsome & BET to name a few. His personal work includes short documentary, iPhone and traditional portrait projects, visual mixtapes, digital publications, video installations, open mics & dance parties that experiment with visuals.

+ Register


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available


Aug 14, 2020 at 10:00 am
Aug 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm
$335.00 – $350.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
+ Google Map

Support UnionDocs’ next phase and new building by becoming a member

Peek in the window of our bustling building in NYC and tune into the ideas and energy bubbling up from the UNDO Center.

Tune into cutting-edge, powerful and poetic documentary programs and connect to conversations with the artists and thinkers passing through.

Now available at the Apple Store.



Unlimited access to all of our monthly offerings for the price of two espressos.



Keep it simple and save. Unlimited access to our sweet offerings for a reduced, annual fee and receive some added benefits.



In the neighborhood, a working artist, student or senior? This membership is for you. Fill out a quick form for a discount code to an annual membership.



Get all of the benefits of the Annual UNDO Membership plus an annual subscription to UnionDocs Editions, a set of publications, merchandise or special objects.

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

New limited editions out now!
Featuring the work of the UNDO Fellows.

FORMS OF ERRANTRY delves into the mesmerizing and haunting films of Miryam Charles and is edited by Lakshmi Padmanabhan. GEOLOGIC LISTENING centers the monumental and expansive work of filmmaker Deborah Stratman and is edited by Sukhdev Sandhu.

Pod Pod 2023 Group 02

Pod Pod is now accepting applications.
Apply today!

Calling all AUDIO MAKERS looking for a bit of motivation, peer support, collective production and a dose of inspiration for your personal project —  join us for 3 months this Fall!