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Perfect pitch: 'Hannah' composer Martie Marro
by Jorjet Harper
2009-09-23

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As music and sound director for the independent film Hannah Free, Martie Marro had a great deal of responsibility for the emotional depth of the film's story.

In addition to providing the emotional glue holding the film together, she had to deal with the difficulties of a clean soundtrack in a shooting venue often marred by the extraneous sounds of the urban environment.

Luckily, Marro is a technological wizard and something of a Renaissance woman. She is founder and owner of Materville Studios, a state-of-the-art multi-media recording lab that was designed to handle projects for film, video, digital animation, paints, fashion, photography, printed media, radio, and music, and combinations of these media.

She also runs Love Your Website, a Web-hosting service providing web design, maintenance, and many other Web services for its customers. Through Love Your Website, Marro is able to incorporate all of Materville's projects into highly technical multimedia Web sites. These have included rich databases of Chicago literature, music, news and history.

Marro is also a member of band Stewed Tomatoes, the "all-female indie pop punk sex funk rock phenomenon" that has appeared in many Chicago venues and in other cities throughout the Midwest. And she has a decade of FM radio production experience, doing commercials, interviews, and musical backbeds.

As a woman who has successfully combined business and artistic pursuits, Marro has received many awards for her work, including an IBM excellence award, a Gay and Lesbian Music Award nomination for Best Video, and an OUT Music nomination for Musician of the Year. Marro can be heard on many soundtracks, including Francis Ford Coppola's First Wave Television Series. She topped the charts at No. 1 on the world charting system for MP3.com . And she has been dubbed "Download Babe of the Day" by Tech TV's Internet Tonight.

Marro has created sound and music for Dance Floor Battle Scars, The Gendercator, Buttery Top, Maybe, Coup d'etat, Canadian short Tunnel Vision and Gayco Expose, a comedy. Beginning her long career in post-production, Martie worked on sound repair of many more films, enjoying the challenge of removing the sound of locusts, trains, rumbling trucks and accidental crew noises.

In short, Marro was a perfect choice to supervise sound and compose the score for Hannah Free, the premiere film from Ripe Fruit Films, founded just last year "to produce Chicago-based films about lesbian lives."

Both the film shoot and post production on Hannah Free were on a super tight schedule. "We wanted to get music involved as soon as possible," said Sharon Zurek, Hannah Free's editor and one of the executive producers of the film. "The sooner the composer can think about scenes or how different instruments might speak to different characters, the better." Once the editing phase began in January, Marro spent an enormous, concentrated amount of time working on the film with Zurek and director Wendy Jo Carlton. "We were joined at the hips for several months," quips Zurek. This dedication paid off, as the film was able to debut in June at a gala event in San Francisco.

After immersing herself in every aspect of the sound of Hannah Free, Marro finds that odd bits still stick in her mind. "In the ensuing months since production on Hannah Free, I have often caught myself repeating lines of the movie in regular conversation," said Marro. "On this most recent Mother's Day, for instance, my mom was complaining of minor aches and pains all over her body, and out my mouth popped: "You are just refining yourself down to the essentials, right?" This is one of Hannah's more philosophical reflections in the film.

Marro also enjoyed working with star Sharon Gless: "My favorite line of the whole movie is when Hannah [ played by Gless ] said, 'Get a grip on yourself.' She has the cutest smile on her face, with the sparkle of a five-year-old darling." Hannah Free has already garnered an Audience Award for Best Feature Film at this year's Philadelphia Q-Fest, and Marro's score of the film has certainly greatly contributed to its success.


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